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How Can I learn Japanese Psychotherapy


The term “Japanese Psychotherapy” has been shown to be an inaccurate and potentially misleading term when only used to refer to Morita Therapy and Naikan Therapy can be better referred to as traditional and are sometimes referred to as Traditional Japanese Psychotherapies. The term "Japanese Psychotherapy" has been shown to be a term one which cannot encompass the full range of currently practiced systems of psychotherapy in Japan. Therefore the modern day practice of Japanese Psychotherapy in Japan today itself does not simply limit its focus to “psychotherapies originated in Japan”, a term which was coined in English by Dr Tsutomo Sakuta, of Keio University Department of Psychiatry (School of Medicine) and jointly published in an article titled, “Psychotherapies Originated in Japan” 6, in the International Medical Journal in 1997 (Sakuta Tsutomo, Shiratsuchi Toshiyuki, Kimura Yoshiki, Abe Yoko – International Medical Journal Vol. 4, No 3 pp. 229-230 – Sept. 1997). This article was later incorporated into a presentation Dr Sakuta gave in English at the 18th World Congress of Psychotherapy in Trondheim in August 2002 titled, “Current Psychotherapeutic Practice and Psychotherapies Originated in Japan.” In that presentation Dr Sakuta makes clear the point that there is a great variety in the branches of psychotherapy that have put down deep roots and are currently in practice in the Japan of the 21st Century. He makes clear that this growth is not limited to indigenous varieties alone.

“Psychotherapies being currently performed in Japan are numerous. Most of them have been introduced to Japan from Western countries, while there are two psychotherapies originated in Japan.”

Dr Sakuta's observation highlights an important distinction that must be taken into account in any study on the current state of the art and science of psychotherapy in Japan or the sole study only of the two Japanese psychotherapies that originated in Japan. In the modern technological and increasingly stress driven societies of countries all around the globe, the need for a wide range of systems of psychotherapy has spread beyond national borders and self-interested parochialism and nowadays no single psychotherapeutic approach can be claimed to be intrinsically exclusive to any one country regardless of either the country of its origin or the country of origin of its founder. So it follows that any investigation into the range of the psychotherapies that are currently practiced in Japan would be woefully insufficient if the scope of the investigation was limited only to methods of psychotherapy either founded in Japan or founded by a Japanese professional or layperson. In reality such an approach would necessitate limiting the focus of the investigation only to those mental health care professionals and providers of psychotherapeutic services who practice the methods and who have been influenced either by the work of Dr. Shoma Morita or the work of Mr Yoshimoto Ishin. Dr Morita was a psychiatrist and former professor of Tokyo Jikei University School of Medicine who was the founder of Morita Therapy. Mr Ishin (born Yoshimoto Iinobu 1916, died 1988) was a businessman and Buddhist scholar who founded Naikan Therapy. to be found in Japan today and these systems of treatment are respected among fellow professionals in the field of mental health care in Japan today and there are a number of practitioners of both Morita Therapy and Naikan Therapy at work here. Although these make up two of two of the many worldwide systems of psychotherapy currently practiced in Japan, they have at times in the past been portrayed or even promoted by some visiting academics to Japan and some visting and non-visiting English speaking media journalists and reporters as the most prominent methods of psychotherapy being practiced by mental health care professionals in Japan and being embraced by the public in Japan. This in reality is not exactly the case at all.

The membership of the Japan Naikan Association as of February 2005 was 400 members, while as of March 2004 the membership of the Japan Society for Morita Therapy was given as 560 members. (Both membership figures include members who are academics and laypersons not actively engaged in the practice of psychotherapy). When these numbers are contrasted with the April 2007 membership total of 19,042 of the Japan Association of Clinical Psychology, (the umbrella organization representing twenty two different psychological societies and associations in Japan) it becomes apparent that these two psychotherapies that originated in Japan do not in themselves alone constitute more than one part of thewhole picture. Psychotherapies in Japan then is a much more accurate term worth using when investigating the current practice of psychotherapy, the positions held and approaches used by practitioners and all institutions and other centers, whether medical or non medical facilities, and most importantly where people in Japan are currently receiving psychotherapy.

Having said all that, in order to study either Morita Therapy or Naikan Therapy it would be necessary to study Japanese as the vast majority of literature on these subjects has naturally been written in Japanese. However there is one excellent book on the subject of Morita Therapy written by Dr Morita himself and which has been translated into English by Dr Kondo Akihisa and Edited by Dr Peggy DeVine, both fully trained and expert practitioners of true Morita Therapy. It is called, "Morita Therapy and the True Nature of Anxiety-Based Disorders".

Hope this may be of some help to you.

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