Psychotherapy In Korean Culture
한국문화에서의 정신치료

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Rhi, Bou-Yong
Issue Date
Seoul National University College of Medicine
Seoul J Med 1988;29(3):201-212
Ever since Nokchin, a young courtman in the time of King Hundok
(809~825AD), began practicing a kind of didactic psychotherapy, Korean traditional culture
had preserved a number of indigenous psychotherapeutic methods. Meditation in the Buddhist
and Taoist traditions, the shaman's healing cult and the psychophysical exercises and
behavior modification techniques of oriental medicine practitioners have all been preserved
through Korea's long history. Western dynamic psychotherapy, on the other hand, was only
introduced after the Korean War in the 1950's when Korean psychiatrists trained in America
during and after the war began returning to Korea. During the 1960's, therapists faced a
number of obstacles in their efforts to effectively utilize western style psychotherapy with
Korean patients. The major factors were; Korean patients' magical expectations of the therapist,
Korean patients' preference for a somatic approach to therapy and also the therapist's
poor motivation for conducting psychotherapy. However, along with the rapid economic
development of Korea, there have been other changes which have made psychotherapy
more popular and successful among Korean people. In particular, the promotion of rational
thinking among the people and the systematic training of therapists in psychiatric institutions
and study groups of various schools of psychotherapy and a profound impact on the increased
success of psychotherapy in Korea. And yet, culturally determined issues such as
modes of communication, the inability of clients to understand that they must pay a fee for
talking with a trained therapist even when they do not receive medicines and clients' often
unreal expectations of western medicine must all be more fully explored, understood and
dealt with.
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College of Medicine/School of Medicine (의과대학/대학원)Dept. of Medicine (의학과)The Seoul Journal of MedicineThe Seoul Journal of Medicine Vol. 29 No.3 (1988)
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