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Towards Body–Mind–Spirit Integration: East Meets West in Clinical Social Work Practice

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Abstract

Contemporary trends in clinical practice are moving more toward an integrative approach that views the mind, the body and the spirit as inter-connected entities. There is an increasing interest in approaches that utilize physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual components in assessment and treatment. This paper presents an integrative body–mind–spirit approach in clinical social work practice which is informed by the Eastern philosophical traditions of Daoism, Buddhism, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Our work with a bereaved elderly woman is presented to illustrate how the three key intervention principles: (1) promoting a dynamic balance within the individual through multi-modal intervention; (2) fostering strengths; and (3) facilitating meaning-making can be effective in helping people in a clinical setting.

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Notes

  1. Qi is a concept in TCM. It refers to the vital energy that flows around the meridians of our body. This energy is given various names in different cultures, e.g., Ki in Japan and prana in India. TCM believes that prolonged inhibition of the functional activity of qi leads to mind/body dysfunction. Different Eastern meditative practices include deep breathing, yoga, taiji, qiqong. All of these plus, the stimulation of meridians using acupuncture, are ways to help regulate the flow of qi in our body.

  2. With a history of more than 2000 years, taiji and qigong are traditional Chinese health-enhancement practices. Taiji consists of a series of complex body movements requiring flexibility and balance, to be practiced with a focused mind and deep breathing. Qigong is similar to taiji; it combines movement with stillness and different breathing techniques. There are different forms of qiqong, e.g., walking, breathing or meditative qiqong.

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Correspondence to Pamela Pui-yu Leung.

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Leung, P.Py., Chan, C.Lw., Ng, Sm. et al. Towards Body–Mind–Spirit Integration: East Meets West in Clinical Social Work Practice. Clin Soc Work J 37, 303–311 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10615-009-0201-9

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