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UPDATED: 20:43, August 11, 2004
Modern technology brings psychology closer to Chinese people
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A hotline offering psychological counseling services was opened Wednesday in Beijing at the ongoing 28th International Congress of Psychology (ICP).

In just two hours, hundreds of incoming calls kept experts busy answering various questions from ordinary Chinese people nationwide. This is just a sample of 4,000 hotlines and websites providing psychological counseling services in China.

Zhang Kan, secretary-general of the 28th ICP, told Xinhua that television, telephone and Internet have made it easier and more convenient for ordinary Chinese to receive psychological counseling.

Qiu Xiaodong, assistant professor of the Department of Applied Social Science at the City University of Hong Kong, said psychology studies people's behavior, and psychological analysis can help adjust people's moods.

In China, there are about 39 million people suffering from symptoms of depression to varying degrees, and at least 3 percent need psychological counseling and therapy. Psychological problems are now the most common cause of disease in China, exceeding even heart disease.

"Psychology and psychological counseling are still mysteries to many Chinese," said Zhang, as most Chinese still chose to bear psychological pressure themselves instead of going to the doctor.

Psychological experts believed that lack of professional institutes, the high cost of counseling, and people's misunderstanding all contribute to the current situation.

Su Xiaoming, board chairman of Beijing Psychic Technology Development Company, said that about 20,000 people applied for training to provide psychological counseling online last year.

"Regardless the convenience brought by modern technology, a correct diagnosis still requires face-to-face observation," said Dr. Zhu Jianjun, director of the department of psychology in Beijing Forestry University.

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