In harmony with the Tao,

the sky is clear and spacious,

the earth is solid and full,

all creatures flourish together,

content with the way they are,

endlessly repeating themselves,

endlessly renewed.
— Laozi, Dao de Jing
Click for slides from our presentation at AAPA 2017

Click for slides from our presentation at AAPA 2017

Taoist Cognitive Therapy: Adaptation and Application to Chinese Immigrants with GAD

In light of studies demonstrating the effectiveness of acceptance-based behavioral therapies and the benefits of culturally-adapted treatments, this project explores the therapeutic potential of Taoist principles for Chinese immigrant patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  In this international collaborative study, my colleagues and I are adapting a Taoist-based cognitive therapy developed in China by Drs. Zhang Yalin and Yang Desen (Zhang et al., 2003) for application to the U.S. context.  In close consultation with the developers in Hunan, China, and clinician stakeholders at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in New York’s Chinatown, we have produced a fully revised and updated treatment manual and are currently conducting a pilot test of the updated treatment, Taoist Cognitive Therapy (TCT).

Collaborators: Zhang Yalin, M.D., Ph.D. and Cao Yu-ping, M.D., Ph.D. (Central South University, Hunan, China), Teddy Chen, Ph.D., LCSW (Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, New York).  Project Consultants: Lizabeth Roemer, Ph.D. (University of Massachusetts, Boston), Sue Orsillo, Ph.D. (Suffolk University), Livia Kohn, Ph.D. (Boston University).  Research Team: Nancy Ng, M.A., Iris Yi Miao, M.A., Ariane Ling, Ph.D., Ben Kaplan, B.A..

Funded by the New School Faculty Development Fund and the AAPA/APA Okura Mental Health Leadership Foundation.


Chang, D.F., Hung, T., *Ng, N., *Ling, A., Chen, T., Cao, Y., & Zhang, Y. (2016). Taoist Cognitive Therapy: Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in a Chinese Immigrant Woman. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 7(3), 205-216.

Taoist Cognitive Orientation and Psychological Well-Being

In partnership with the Career Mobility Project in New York's Chinatown, our team is investigating whether a Taoist cognitive orientation may buffer the association between acculturative stress and psychological symptoms among recent arrived Chinese immigrants.  Key Taoist principles include acceptance, balance and harmony with natural laws, and wuwei (non action).  We hypothesize that a Taoist orientation leads to particular ways of confronting stressful situations and productive coping, especially for events outside of one's control. 

Project Team: Nancy Ng, M.A., Iris Yi Miao, M.A., Ariane Ling, M.A., Rachel Floyd, M.A.

Cultural Mindsets and Test Performance in Chinese Americans

This study applies a between-subjects experimental design to test the impact of two different cultural primes on cognitive test performance in Chinese Americans. Within the Chinese culture, Taoism and Confucianism are two accessible cultural value systems that offer complementary worldviews and modes of coping with the stresses of everyday life. A Taoist worldview is characterized by principles of acceptance, balance and harmony with natural laws, and nonaction (wuwei). In contrast, Confucian principles emphasize humanism, social order, filial piety, and moral action.

We hypothesize that a Taoist mindset contributes to enhanced performance on challenging cognitive tasks, by increasing self-efficacy and improving capacity to cope with stress. In contrast, we hypothesize that individuals primed with a Confucian mindset (values of filial obligation and duty to repay parental sacrifice) will exhibit lower scores on the cognitive task, by activating loss of face concerns, achievement orientation, and stress reactivity. A secondary aim of the study is to provide evidence for the construct validity of a new scale, the Taoist Values Inventory by examining associations between this scale and measures of cognitive flexibility and traditional Asian values. 

Project Team: Nancy Ng, M.A., Iris Yi Miao, M.A., Ariane Ling, Ph.D.