Traditional Chinese medicine as a basis for treating psychiatric disorders: A review of theory with illustrative cases

Citation (APA Style): Aung, S. K. H., Fay, H., & Hobbs III, R. F. (2013). Traditional Chinese medicine as a basis for treating psychiatric disorders: A review of theory with illustrative cases. Medical Acupuncture, 25(6), 398–406. doi:10.1089/acu.2013.1007


Integrative medicine is becoming increasingly accepted in the global scheme of health care. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is often included among integrative medicine modalities.

This article provides a background for integration of acupuncture and other TCM-derived approaches to managing psychiatric conditions.

Classical theories of TCM that pertain to psychiatric conditions are reviewed, focusing on concepts of energetic imbalance, the implications of mind-body-spirit connections, and treatment strategies that involve TCM modalities. An example of correlation between TCM patterns of disharmony and the Western diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is given, along with an illustrative case in which counseling, medications, and acupuncture were combined in treatment. TCM principles are incorporated in certain energy psychology modalities, such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). A case is presented demonstrating the integration of energy psychology with acupuncture, qigong, and hypnosis as an avenue for releasing pathogenic emotions. In classical TCM theory, assessing and treating spiritual disharmonies is fundamental for dealing with emotional disorders. Practical application in a clinical case is described.

TCM offers a cogent theoretical basis for assessing and clinically managing patients presenting with mental health issues. TCM principles integrate well with other systems, including Western medicine.

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