Chinese inpatients’ subjective experiences of the helping process as viewed through examination of a nurses' focused, structured therapy group


  • Fei-Hsiu Hsiao RN, PhD,

  • Shu-Mei Lin RN, DipN,

  • Hsiao-Yuan Liao RN, DipN,

  • Mei-Chih Lai RN, DipN

Fei-Hsiu Hsiao
Assistant Professor
College of Nursing
Taipei Medical University
No. 250, Wu-Hsing Street
Taipei 110
Telephone: 886 2 27361661 (ext. 6313)


Aims and objectives.  This study examined Chinese inpatients’ views on what aspects of a nurses' focused, structured therapy group worked to help their psychological and interpersonal problems and what traditional Chinese cultural values influenced their viewpoints.

Methods.  Nine Chinese inpatients with mental illness participated in the four-session nurses' focused, structured therapy group. After they completed the last session of therapy, they were invited to participate in a structured interview and a semi-structured interview regarding their perceptions of the change mechanisms in nurses' focused, structured group therapy. The semi-structured interviews were recorded and transcribed to be further analysed according to the principal of content analysis.

Results.  The results indicate that (i) all patients believed that a nurses' focused, structured group psychotherapy enhanced their interpersonal learning and improved the quality of their lives, (ii) traditional Chinese cultural values – those emphasizing the importance of maintaining harmonious interpersonal relationships – influenced the Chinese inpatients’ expression of negative emotions in the group and their motivation on interpersonal learning.

Conclusion.  In conclusion, we found that transcultural modification for applying Western group psychotherapy in Chinese culture was needed. The modification included establishing a ‘pseudo-kin’ or ‘own people’ relationship among group members and the therapists, organizing warm-up exercises and structured activities, applying projective methods and focusing on the issues of interpersonal relationships and interpersonal problems.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The small sample size of the present study raises questions regarding how representative the views of the sample are with respect to the majority of Chinese inpatients. Nevertheless, this preliminary study revealed a cultural aspect in nursing training that requires significant consideration in order to work effectively with Chinese patients.