LEE Boon Ooi

Senior Lecturer

Psychological Studies (PS)

Office Location

M.Sc. (McGill University, Canada)
M.A. (University of Keele, UK)
B.A., Ph.D. (National University of Singapore)


Office Telephone Number

Research Interests
Culture and Mental health: Indigenous healing systems, indigenous psychology, cultural psychopathology, health beliefs

  • Dr Lee Boon Ooi holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and has obtained post-doctoral training in Social and Transcultural Psychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University in Canada. In addition to his current role as the programme leader of the MA programme in Counselling and Guidance, he teaches a number of courses in counselling psychology. His passion for teaching won him the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2012 and 2013.

    For research, Dr Lee is interested in the relationship between culture and mental health, particularly, indigenous healing systems,  indigenous psychology, cultural psychopathology, and health beliefs. His research is interdisciplinary combining knowledge and methods from psychology, cultural psychiatry and medical anthropology.

    Besides teaching and research, Dr Lee has practised psychotherapy for 20 years. He has maintained an active private practice and provided consultation at the Department of Psychosocial Oncology at the National Cancer Centre. He is a recognized clinical supervisor with the Singapore Association for Counselling.

  • I am interested in the relationship between culture and mental health, particularly, indigenous healing systems, cultural psychopathology, embodiment, and health beliefs (causal attribution and explanatory models). My research is interdisciplinary, drawing on knowledge and methodologies from psychology, transcultural psychiatry and medical anthropology.

    My current projects investigate indigenous healing systems for mental health. The goal is two-fold. First, I hope to identify the therapeutic processes in indigenous healing systems to culturally sensitize psychotherapy. As most psychotherapy models have been developed based on western worldviews, they may need to be adapted when being applied in other cultures. One way to make psychotherapy culturally sensitive is to study and learn from the indigenous healing systems of specific cultural groups. Therapeutic elements can be extracted from these healing systems and incorporated into psychotherapy. I have studied various indigenous healings in Chinese culture, for example, qui-chien (Chinese divination), Traditional Chinese Medicine, and feng-shui (geomancy). Presently, I research into thetherapeutic process and outcome of dang-ki healing (Chinese shamanistic healing) in Singapore. I am particularly interested in how its healing processes and outcomes are related to expectations, faith, hope, meaning responses (placebo effects), and the therapeutic relationship. The theoretical model that guides my research is symbolic healing model (Dow, 1986). 

    Second, I examine how the sense of self is transformed through meaning systems in ritual healing. For example, there is evidence that involvement in shamanistic spirit possession may be therapeutic, rather than being pathological, for the practitioner as well as their clients. This line of enquiry also sheds light on the relationship between therapeutic transformation and altered states of consciousness in the healing context.

    • Multicultural Counselling
    • Advanced Counselling Skills
    • Fundamentals of Counselling
    • Counselling Practicum
    • Health Psychology (Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine)



    Indigenous Healing Systems

    Lee, B. O. (in press). Transformation in dang-ki healing: The embodied self and perceived legitimacy. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry.

    Lee, B. O. (in press). Integrating Asian traditional healing into psychotherapy. In R.

    Moodley, T. Lo & N. Zhu (Eds.), Asian healing traditions: Implications for health and mental health. Toronto: Sage.

    Lee, B. O., Kirmayer, L. J., & Groleau, D. (2010). Therapeutic processes and perceived helpfulness of dang-ki (Chinese shamanism) from the symbolic healing perspective. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 34(1), 56-105.

    Lee, B. O. (2002). Chinese indigenous psychotherapies in Singapore. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 2(1), 2-10.

    Lee, B. O. (2002). Psychotherapy in Chinese medicine: A theoretical review. In A. G. Tan & M. Goh (Eds.), Psychology in Singapore: Issue of an emerging discipline (pp. 124-146). Singapore: McGraw-Hill.

    Lee, B. O. (1996). Psychotherapeutic concepts of the five Chinese indigenous therapies. Proceedings of the Association of Psychological and Educational Counsellors of Asia, Singapore Association for Counselling, 68-92.

    Health Beliefs and Help-Seeking Behaviour

    Lee, B. O. (2013). Ambivalence over emotional expression and symptom attribution are associated with self-reported somatic symptoms in Singaporean school adolescents. Asian Journal of Social Psychology. 16(3), 169-180. DOI: 10.1111/ajsp.12005

    Lee, B. O. (2009). Relationships between adolescents' preferred sources of help and emotional distress, ambivalence over emotional expression, and causal attribution of symptoms: A Singapore study. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 37(4), 433-455.

    Lee, B. O. (2007). Symptom attribution and preferred sources of help for psychiatric symptoms of university students in Singapore. Asian Journal of Counselling, 14 (1 & 2), 49--90.

    Lee, B. O., & Bishop, G. D. (2001). Chinese clients’ belief systems about psychological problems in Singapore. Counselling Psychology Quarterly. 14(3), 219-240.

    Psychopathology, Mental Health, and Counselling

    Chong, W. H., & Lee, B. O. (2015). Social-emotional learning: Promotion of youth wellbeing in Singapore schools. In K. Wright & J. McLeod (Eds.), Rethinking youth wellbeing: Critical perspectives (pp. 161-177). Melbourne: Springer.

    Yeo, L. S. & Lee, B. O. (2014). School-based counselling in Singapore. Journal of Asian Pacific Counselling, 4 (2), 69-79.

    Chong, W. H., Lee, B. O., Tan, S. Y., Wong, S. S., & Yeo, L. S. (2013). School psychology and school-based child and family intervention in Singapore. School Psychology International, 34(5), 177-189. 

    Ow, C. Y., & Lee, B. O. (2012) Relationships between perceived stigma, coping orientations, self-esteem, and quality of life in patients with schizophrenia. Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health. DOI: 10.1177/1010539512469246

    Wong, S. S., Lee, B. O., Ang, R. P., & Ng, A. K. (2009). Personality, health, and coping: A Cross-national study. Cross-Cultural Research, 43(3), 251-279.

    Lee, B. O. (2009). Psychotherapy for depression. In B. Y. Ng (Ed.), Take me out of depression (pp. 62-68). Singapore: Paper-Play Publications.

    Wong, S. S., Oei, T. P. S., Ang, R. P., Lee, B. O., Ng, A. K., & Leng, V. (2007). Personality, meta-mood, experience, life satisfaction, and anxiety in Australian versus Singaporean Students. Current Psychology, 26, 109-120.

    Lee, B. O. (2007). Sexual attitudes clarification exercise: A school-based sexuality educational group work for adolescents. In E. Lui & S. S. Wong (Eds.), Youth guidance in Singapore: Issues, interventions, and reflection (68-78). Singapore: Prentice Hall.

    Lee, B. O. (2006). Clients as co-healers. In E. Lui & S. S. Wong (Eds.), Reflection on counselling: Developing practice in schools (pp.56-73). Singapore: Prentice Hall.

    Ng, A. K., Ang, R. P., Lee, B. O., Wong, S. S., Tian P.S. Oei, & Leng, V. (2005). Do adaptors and innovators subscribe to opposing values? Creativity Research Journal, 17(2), 273-281.

    Ang, R. P., Ng, A. K., Wong, S. S., Lee, B. O., Oei, T. P. S., & Leng, V. (2004). Relationship between big five traits and aggression: A comparison between undergraduates from Australia and Singapore. Journal of Psychology in Chinese Societies, 5(2), 291-305.

    Lee, B. O., & Wong, S. S. (2004). An ecological multimodal approach to counselling. In E.Tan (Ed.), Counselling in schools: Theories, processes, and techniques (pp. 187-214). Singapore: McGraw-Hill Education (Asia).

    Wong, S. S., & Lee, B. O. (2004). Multidimensional metatheoretical counselling model: A review and reconstruction of counselling theories and techniques. In E. Tan (Ed.), Counselling in schools: Theories, processes, and techniques (pp. 155-186). Singapore: McGraw-Hill Education (Asia).

    Lee, B. O. (1999a). Adolescent questions on sex. In S. C. Chang, S. Gopinathan & W. K. Ho (Eds.), Growing up in Singapore: Research perspectives on adolescents (pp.230-247). Singapore: Prentice Hall. 

    Lee, B. O. (1999b). The Indigenous Counselling Framework (ICF) for school counselling in Singapore. In A. G. Tan (Chair), Roles of psychology in education: Reflection and suggestions for the new millennium. Proceedings of the MERA-ERA, 1999, 900-906. 

    Lee, B. O. (1999c). Application of health psychology in the school settings: Adolescent cigarette smoking. In A. G. Tan (Chair), Roles of psychology in education: Reflection and suggestions for the new millennium. Proceedings of the MERA-ERA, 1999, 917-922.

    Lee, B. O. (1995). Treating premature ejaculation in the multimodal therapeutic framework: A single case study. ANNALS: Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Human Sexuality and Sexual Dysfunction, 24(5), 668-675.


    Lee, B. O. (2015, October). Integration of Asian traditional healing into psychotherapy: Rationales, opportunities and challenges. Paper presented at the Singapore Association for Counselling Symposium: Evidence Informed Practice – Towards a Better State of Well-being, Singapore (15th – 16th October). 

    Thong, X. J. F. & Lee, B. O. (2015, October). Relationship between self-construal, ambivalence over emotional expression, and perceived emotional distress. Poster presented at the Regional Congress of the World Federation for Mental Health 2015, Singapore (1st – 2nd October).

    Lee, B. O. (2015, April). Dissociative experience and transformation in dang-ki healing. Paper presented at the Society for Psychological Anthropology Biennial Meeting, Boston, USA (9th – 12th April).

    Lee, B. O. (2014, December). Restoration of social relationships through ethical, relational, and spiritual healing in Asian culture. Paper presented at the 20th APECA Biennial Conference-Workshop 2014, Singapore (4th – 6th December). 

    Lee, B. O., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2014, September). Therapeutic transformation in spiritual healing. Paper presented at the 6th International Asian Association of Indigenous and Cultural Psychology Conference, Taipei, Taiwan (26th – 28th September).

    Tan, S. Y., Wong, S. S., & Lee, B. O. (2013, September). Counsellor efficacy through supervision. Paper presented at the 2013 Joint SELF Biennial International Conference and Educational Research Association of Singapore (ERAS) Conference, Singapore (9 – 11 September).

    Tan, S. Y., Wong, S. S., & Lee, B. O. (2013, September). Efficacy beliefs in diverse settings: Educational applications in Singapore: Role of counsellor efficacy in school counselling training. Paper presented at the Joint 7th Self-Concept Enhancement and Learning Facilitation (SELF) Biennial International Conference and Educational Research Association of Singapore (ERAS) Conference, Singapore (9 – 11 September).

    Tan, S.Y., Lee, B.O., & Wong, S. S. (2012, June). The Effect of On-the-Job Group Supervision on School Counsellor Professionalism. Paper presented at Eighth International Interdisciplinary Conference on Clinical Supervision, New York, USA. 

    Ban, L., Lee, B. O., Vargas, S., Ryder, A., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2012, March). Culture and the folk concept of resilience. Paper presented at the 3rd World Association of Cultural Psychiatry, London, U.K. (9 – 11 March). 

    Vargas, S., Ban, L., Lee, B. O., Kirmayer, L.J. & Ryder, A. G. (2011, June). Culture, folk psychiatry and the concept of resilience. Paper presented at the 11th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture, ‘Integrating Medicine and Psychiatry in Multi-Ethnic Settings’, Washington, USA (2 – 4 June). 

    Ban, L., Lee, B. O., Ryder, A. G. & Kirmayer, L.J. (2011, April). Culture and the folk concept of resilience. Paper presented at the First International Conference on Cultural Psychiatry in the French Speaking World, ‘Migration Challenges and Mental Health’, Paris, France (18-20 April).

    Ban, L. Lee, B. O., Ryder, A. G., Vargas, S., & Kirmayer, L.J. (2011, March). Culture and the folk concept of resilience, Presentation at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Conference, Toronto, Canada (28 March).

    Lee, B. O. (2010, July). Chinese spiritual healing in Singapore: Lessons for indigenous psychotherapy. Paper presented at the First International Conference of Indigenous and Cultural Psychology, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (24 – 27 July). 

    Lee, B. O. (2010, February). Indigenous Healing Systems for Emotional Distress. Invited Distinguished Lecture at the 2nd ICCS International Convention on Psychological Communication, Quezon City, Manila, Philippines (13 February).  

    Lee, B. O., & Chong, Wan Har (2009, October). Psychology, therapeutic beliefs, and psychiatric diagnosis in Singapore schools. Invited paper presented at Therapy Culture Revisited: The Impact of the Language of Therapy on Public Policy and Societal Resilience. Conference organized by the Centre of Excellence for National Security, S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (4-6 October).

    Lee, B. O. (2009, August). The perceived helpfulness of spiritual healing from a cultural and psychological perspective. Paper presented at the International Association for the Psychology of Religion Congress 2009, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria (23-27 August).

    Tan, S. Y., Wong, S. S., Lee, B. O., & Chew, L. C. (2008, November). Singapore full-time school counsellors' perceptions of supervision needs and preferences of supervisory emphasis. Paper presented at APERA, Singapore.

    Lee, B. O. (2008, June). Therapeutic processes and outcomes of dang-ki: A Chinese shamanistic healing in Singapore. Paper presented at the 2008 Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (12 to 14 June).

    Lee, B. O. (2007, October). Psychosocial interventions for cancer patients with emotional distress. Invited paper presented at SingHealth Nursing Conference, Singapore (25 to 27 October).

    Wong, S. S., Lee, B. O., Ang, R. P., Ng, A. K., Oei, T. P. S. & Leng, V. (2004, November). Neither East nor West: Interdependent self-construal and independent self-construal in Singaporean versus Australian students. Paper presented at Education Research Association of Singapore Conference, Singapore.

    Ang, R. P., Wong, S. S., Lee, B. O., Khoo, A., Huan, V. S. & Cheng Y. S. (2003, November). Adolescents' suicidal ideation and emotional intelligence. Paper presented at Education Research Association of Singapore 2003 Annual Conference, Singapore. 

    Lee, B. O. (2004, August). What’s behind the symptom? Psychosocial aspects of pain. Invited paper presented at the Painted Faces: Transformation is Possible, a conference organised by the Singapore Hospice Council at the National Cancer Centre, Singapore (14 August).

    Ang, R. P., Cheng, Y. S., Huan, V. S., Khoo, A., Lee, B. O. & Wong S. S. (2003,November). Impact of internalized shame on anxiety, depression, and aggression in adolescents. Paper presented at Education Research Association of Singapore Conference, Singapore.

    Wong, S. S., Ang, R. P., Ng, A. K., Lee, B. O., & Leng, V. (2003, November). Deconstructing emotional intelligence: A critical analysis of the concept, theories, and research of emotional intelligence. Paper presented at Education Research Association of Singapore Conference, Singapore.

    Ng, A. K., Ang, R. P., Lee, B. O., Wong, S. S., Oei, T. P. S. & Leng, V. (2003, June). Investigating the values of adaptors and innovators in Singapore and Australia. Paper presented at Asia Pacific Conference on Education, Singapore.

    Lee, B. O. (2003a, March). Dang-ki: An alternative psychotherapy. In D. Y. F. Ho (Chair), Asian approaches to psychotherapy. Symposium conducted at the 6th Pacific Rim Congress of Group Psychotherapy / the 3rd Pacific Conference on Psychotherapy (13 March to 15 March), Singapore.

    Lee, B. O. (2003b, March). Multimodal therapy for adult cancer patients. Paper presented at the 6th Pacific Rim Congress of Group Psychotherapy / the 3rd Pacific Conference on Psychotherapy (13 March to 15 March), Singapore. 

    Lee, B. O. (2003c, March). Illness cognition, the interpretation of symptoms, and the preferred sources of help of Singaporean students: A preliminary report. Paper presented at the 6th Pacific Rim Congress of Group Psychotherapy / the 3rd Pacific Conference on Psychotherapy (13 March to 15 March), Singapore.

    Lee, B. O. (2002, July). Chinese indigenous psychotherapies: Learning from the traditional Chinese medicine and folk therapies. Paper presented at the XXV International Congress of Applied Psychology (7-12 July). Singapore.  

    Lee, B. O. (2001, March). Sexual concerns and behaviour of Singaporean adolescents. Invited paper presented at the 12th ASEAN Forum on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Singapore.

    Lee, B. O. (2000, May). Adolescents’ concerns about sex. Invited paper presented at the Conference of Psychosocial Disturbances in Childhood and Adolescents: Challenges in Management (organised by the Mount Elizabeth-Charter Behavioural Health Services). Singapore.

    Lee, B. O. (1998, March). Lay beliefs about the etiology and treatment of psychological problems: Psychotherapy with Chinese clients in Singapore. Paper presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting, Singapore Psychiatric Association. 


    Ban, L., Lee, B. O., Ryder, A., Varqas, S., & Kirmayer, L. (2013). Cultural differences in concepts of psychiatric disorder, resilience and recovery.