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Qualification Standards and Credentials for Mental Health Professionals in Tokyo and Japan



Thank you for your message and your interest in how to become a qualified professional mental health counselor in Japan. Here at Tokyo Counseling Services we get around 5 or 6 enquires a month in English, apart from many enquiries in Japanese naturally. Some of these enquiries come from people in Tokyo, some come from people within Japan and others come students and mental health professionals international locations who currently do not hold Japanese mental health qualifications in Japan. The following information has been compiled to cover a wide range of questions and enquiries.

Among the inquiries in English that come from international locations abroad are some from people asking to be considered for positions at Tokyo Counseling Services as mental health counselors and even clinical psychologists and psychotherapists here in Japan. A surprisingly large number are from people who, although they may have a first degree in psychology, masters degree in psychology or social work or even on occasion a doctoral degree in psychology, not only can they not yet speak Japanese but more unbelievably they seem from the emails they write to have no intention to learn Japanese (sic) while living in Japan. Some of these mailers seem to lack the common sense to realize that in Japan the national language is Japanese. Sometimes this kind of mailer will proudly state that they speak a second language other then English such as Spanish, German, French or other European languages and yet in the same email make absolutely no mention of the Japanese language, how they intend to learn it or of how they intend to study Japanese to a the level of sufficiency to become proficient enough to refer clients to Japanese psychiatrists for diagnosis, treatment, prescription of psychiatric medication and recommendation for being admitted into hospital. Another tendency of mailers like this is to write a short ‘positive’ email, with no detailed resume in English nor Japanese, letting us know how our center will benefit from their presence and, kindly informing us as to when they can be available for interview for a position as a therapist at TCS. As you may have gathered by now this kind of enquiry does not cut very much ice.

At TCS we also get a lot of emails in English from young, enthusiastic and sometimes somewhat naïve psychology graduates. Most of them are looking to see what they can get from the experience of living in Tokyo or other parts of Japan for a while and who seem to believe they can finance themselves through working “with members of the International community” and "English speaking individuals". Another group of inquirers is from people are from mental health counselors, social workers or clinical psychologists who have qualifications in the their country or state of origin and who may or may not hold a license to practice as mental health professionals in the state or country in which they were licensed to practice.

Thankfully we occasionally receive inquiries from someone who is sincere, serious and mature enough to be prepared to work hard and put in the appropriate effort to do what it takes to reach and pass the qualification exam standards and earn national and board foundation credentials as mental health professionals in Tokyo and Japan and so earn the right to work ethically and legitimately as one of the over 100,000 qualified and licensed mental health professionals here in Japan.


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Why mental health professionals speak Japanese in Japan



Speaking Japanese when working in Japan is of course a prerequisite for any ethical mental health counselor, clinical psychologist or psychotherapist to practice with clients of any nationality. Imagine the difficult and potentially dangerous position a client of in Japan who is depressed, suffering severe panic attacks or is suicidal who has a therapist who cannot speak Japanese well enough to contact and speak with a licensed psychiatrist or police and ambulance services in an emergency.

Generally we only reply to those who can speak Japanese or who are studying Japanese before relocating to Japan as I assume you are. You will need to learn Japanese to Level 1 in order to study for licensing as a Japan Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists Clinical Psychologist or Japanese Federation for Psychotherapy qualified Psychotherapist (JCP). Please have a look at the information on these pages from my personal web site which I think will help you understand what you will need to do in order to become a licensed psychologist in Japan.

For your information the JSCCP takes place once every year in October, first you will have to take a written exam and then, if you pass the written exan, an oral interview. Both the written and oral examinations are naturally conducted in Japanese.


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How to be considered for work as a qualified mental health counselor at TCS



Here are a five points I would suggest you do to be in a good position to be considered to work as a qualified mental health counselor, clinical psychologist or qualified psychotherapist at TCS and in Japan in general.

1. you are committed to learning Japanese and understanding the society, culture and ways of doing and being in modern day Japan well enough to work in Japanese with Japanese people.

2. if you are committed to studying and working towards qualification as a JSCCP board certified Clinical Psychologist and have a strong commitment to work willingly and cooperatively with Japanese and all other colleagues who work within and with respect for the Japanese mental health care system.

3. if you are planning to move to Japan, be self sufficient and independent enough as well as financially secure enough to move to Japan and find good accommodation for themselves and are committed to living in Japan for many years.

4. if you have good abilities and an aptitude for working as a clinical psychologist in one of the most interesting but at the same time most stressful and demanding cities in the world.

5. One further important point to note also is that after many years of negotiations between the JSCCP and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare it seems probable that National Licensing for Clinical Psychologists will come into law at some point in the not too distant future.

After reading this and you are still serious about wanting to assist people suffering from mental illness and life crisis here in Tokyo then you are welcome to contact me again. Also I am putting together a mailing list for fellow professionals and international students in Japan and around the world to keep all informed and up to date with professional developments in the fields of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy in Japan, so please feel free to let me know if you would like your email address added to this list.

Please note well that I am not in a position to promise or even tentatively offer anyone who applies from abroad work at Tokyo Counseling Services. One reason for this is because the needs of the center can only be known as and when that need arises as our center is constantly developing and growing. So the best I can suggest now is that when you know your plans for relocating back to Tokyo or for moving for the first time to Tokyo you let me know then when you will be back living here and then you would be welcome to come and see me for an informal chat at the counselling center and we can talk about your personal situation and intentions and also so you can learn the current work situation needs and the professional, ethical and legitimate requirements that mental health professionals in Japan and TCS have to attain at that time.


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An Introduction to Psychotherapy in Japan


 

 

I have written a book on the history and contemporary practice of psychotherapy in Japan that could be of interest and use to you as a resource in your search for and preparation for finding work as a professional mental health in Japan:

Review

"Well planted in Fertile Ground: An Introduction to Japanese Psychotherapy" is an investigation into modern Japanese psychotherapy practice currently in Japan, the ways and approaches of psychotherapies in Japan, where psychotherapists practice in Japan and how they utilize psychotherapeutic systems to serve the needs and wishes of their clients and patients. With an emphasis on identifying the full range of systems of psychotherapy being used within Japanese society in the treatment of emotional and psychosomatic problems and also in the treatment of problems caused by crisis in life."

Amazon Books Link:

Well Planted in Fertile Ground: An Introduction to Japanese Psychotherapy

"For students and professionals who are interested in getting a fuller and more detailed account of the standards and requirements for qualifying to practice as a mental health professional in Japan and also more knowledge on the professional practice of psychotherapy in Japan.”

I hope that the information in this article and the links above may be of help to you. Thank you again for your interest in TCS and mental health care in Japan.

Kind regards,

Andrew Grimes

Director Tokyo Counseling Services


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