16th International Confernce on Daoist Studies , 8-11 June, 2023 - Leeds (UK)

Friederike Assandri's picture

Daoism, Psychology and Psychotherapy

  1. Heart, Mind and Body
  • 16th International Conference on Daoist Studies


Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom


8-11 June, 2023


Daoism has a rich tradition of working with psychological issues and phenomena, speaking variously of the spirit and the mind, acknowledging various forms of souls, and engaging with a plethora of mental functions and emotions. It also works with several distinct dimensions of the body: the integrated organism that connects people to nature and the universe, the physical form that runs life along its specific trajectory and contains its own wisdom, and the culturally defined and individually sculpted personal body that determines people’s identity in the greater society. All these interact and connect in numerous ways, expressed theoretically in philosophical, medical, and general treatises and activated practically in many forms of personal cultivation. The conference focuses on the exploration of these aspects of the Daoist tradition, both in history and the contemporary world, with the goal of shedding new light on the integrated dynamics of human psychology from a Daoist perspectives. It greatly encourages comparative perspectives, linking Daoist visions with modern and Western concepts of body, mind, and spirit as expressed in psychology and psychotherapy.



Chairs: Elliot Cohen, Leeds Beckett University; Livia Kohn, Boston University


Sponsors: Daesoon Academy of Sciences, Three Pines Press


Standing Committee:

USA: Liu Xun, Robin Wang; China: Chen Xia, Sharon Small, Liou Tong-Miin; France: Adeline Herrou, Georges Favraud, Karine Martin; Germany: Friederike Assandri, Elisabeth Friedrichs



Elliot Cohen: Daoism, Psychology and Psychotherapy—The Dao of Dialogue

From Analytical Psychologist Carl Jung’s exploration of ‘inner alchemy’, to Humanistic Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s plea for a more ‘Taoistic Science’, to pioneering person-centred therapist Carl Rogers’ embrace of wuwei, Daoist teachings have played a consistent, subtle but significant part in shaping popular approaches in Psychology and Psychotherapy. Contemporary cognitive therapies are also being increasingly informed by Daoist principles and cultivation practicesincluding the emergence of Chinese Daoist Cognitive Therapy. In this lecture, I briefly outline the past, present and future of this cross-cultural dialogue, before reflecting on my own Daoist encounters and inspirations that have led to my pursuit of more Transpersonal research methods and Ecological endeavours. I will demonstrate how our undergraduate Environmental Psychology module has been informed by Daoist teachings, further supplemented with insights from Deep Ecology and Ecopsychology. Our current global predicament is largely the result of a prevalent, insidious, largely unquestioned anthropocentric mindset, which reduces the natural world to ‘natural resources’. It is my firm conviction that a more Daoistic worldview may prove to be a potent antidote to this detrimental, default way of thinking and more vital than ever when faced with impending climate crises and catastrophe—bridging the psychological, ecological and soteriological.     


David Chai: Ji Kang on Abandoning Life to Preserve the Body

In his debate with Xiang Xiu, Ji Kang puts forth a Neo-Daoist philosophy of life-nourishment that is rooted in the harmonization of body, heart-mind, and spirit. Unlike people who indulge their bodies to the detriment of their heart-mind, or deplete their spirit by over-exerting the heart-mind, Ji Kang argues we must cultivate our inborn nature to protect the spirit and quiet our heart-mind to preserve the body. Unless we can harmonize the body and spirit, longevity will elude us regardless of the amount of exercise we perform or medicine consumed. To know the principle of nourishing life is to know the source of our ailments lies hidden within us, and that said ailments can only be defeated if we empty ourselves of desires, use wisdom to accord with the Dao of life, and blend with the world in oneness. By acknowledging the presence of the Dao and its virtue within us, and not chase things that will come back to harm us, we can abandon life and thereby preserve our body.



After arrival in Leeds on Thursday, the conference begins with registration at 7 pm on that day, followed at 8 pm by a brief opening ceremony and keynote speeches. It ends in the afternoon of Sunday.


Panels: Three 20-minute individual paper presentations on the panel theme, followed by open discussion (1.5 hours).

--Workshops: Emphasis on the experience of Daoist cultivation, martial arts (taiji quan), and forms of Daoist medicine (1.5 hours). The room will not have tables, chairs, or PPT equipment. It is specifically for practical experience.

--Forums: Joint readings of particular texts distributed ahead of time in 1.5-hour sessions.


Send information (name, email, institution) as well as an abstract (if applicable) in less than 200 words to daoworks22@gmail.com


FEE: Covers university fees plus breakfast, lunch, and snacks for three days

US $150 / €140, payable via PayPal to daoworks22@gmail.com



Abstracts due:                        1 May 2023

Program on website:              10 May 2023



A limited number of work-study scholarships are available to scholars within 3 years of completing advanced training. They cover approximately half of housing and transportation in addition to a waiver of conference fees and require attendance of the entire conference as well as a few hours of work to help with registration and other organizational tasks.


Send your application to daoworks22@gmail.com. Include name, institution, supervisor, title of dissertation or graduation project, date of completion, as well as paper title and abstract. Make sure to focus on a topic related to the conference theme. Funds run out, so apply early. Decisions will be made in early March of 2023.




There will be a limited number of tables available to distribute fliers or pamphlets and sell books, CDs, and other materials. This service is complementary.



Leeds Beckett University, City Campus

Portland Way, Calverley Building (Third Floor)

Leeds LS1 3HE




Premier Inn, Hepworth Point – Clay Pit Lane. Price per night from £63.00

Ibis Styles, Wade Lane. Price per night from £68.00

Radisson Blu, The Light, The Headrow. Price per night from: £95.00

Travelodge Leeds Central, Vicar Lane. Price per night from £42.99 (11 minute walk from venue)

Plus, there are many AirBnb offers in central Leeds

Categories: CFP