Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counseling and Personnel

First Advisor

Dr. James J. Lowe

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert L. Betz

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert F. Hopkins


Taoism originated in China during the -5th and -4th centuries with the Tao Te Ching, which is attributed to Lao Tzu. This ancient philosophy delineated a way of acting in harmony with the course and trend of the natural world. In the United States, Taoist thought has been increasing in popularity since the 1930's. C. G. Jung, Alan Watts, and Abraham Maslow were prominent in bringing Taoism to a functional understanding in America's psychological community. They promoted the view that man is not an isolated ego which must control experience, but rather that man is a part of the order and flow of all things who must yield to this order and flow to be psychologically healthy.

The present study focused on the application of Taoism to psychotherapy. The work concentrated on four specific areas. First, fundamental percepts of Taoism taken from traditional and modern texts were applied to the development of a personality theory. Second, five-practical constructs were derived from the theory. Third, the constructs were applied in two cases of actual psychotherapy, and, finally, an evaluation was made of the constructs as applied in the case studies.

An empirical action research design developed by Goldman was used to test the validity of the constructs. Clients were two university students with personal concerns who were appropriate for psychotherapy of eight sessions or less. Taoist psychotherapy constructs were employed as the treatment approach with treatment goals directly paired with each of the five constructs. The constructs used and the client's responses to the constructs were taken verbatim from recorded magnetic tape. An assessment was made as to the effects of the constructs employed with each client by comparing the goals of the intervention and treatment results.

The assessment showed that the constructs generated results congruent with treatment goals. Clients experienced an increased allowance of and trust in: (1) the here and now situation, Nowness; (2) the ability to "swim with the current," Not Trying; (3) an emerging sense of self that is larger than the ego, Ego Deemphasis; (4) a less judgemental attitude, Guilt Desensitization; (5) a feeling of letting go, Acceptance.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access