Whether you are presently living or studying here or abroad start your job search well before you graduate and return to Japan. I have had several emails from people living in various parts of Japan who waited until they graduated and/or returned home before starting their job search and are still trying to get into counseling related work many months later.
If you are not already qualified and certified to offer counseling services here as a Clinical Psychologist by the Foundation of the Japanese Certification Board for Clinical Psychologists (Nihonrinshoushinrininteikyoukai) then please take steps to do so. Over 95% of university graduates from masters courses in psychology in 1999 went on to gain further experience and study for the JSCCP exam to become JSCCP board certified CP's. You can find out more about how to qualify here as a clinical psychologist in the "Counseling and counselors" section above.
If you have a BA in Psychology or other relevant first degree that's a good first step but if you are seriously considering becoming a counselor/psychotherapist in Japan you will have to go on to graduate with a master's degree. Since April 1996 only MA and Ph.D. level candidates are now eligible to apply for qualification as a clinical psychologist.
Sounds obvious but......
If you are studying abroad make sure you get a computer system that can view Kanji - individual qualified counselors, counseling centers, mental health clinics and both psychiatric and psychological associations here have their own web sites but naturally most of these are in Japanese.
Do keyword searches using Japanese search engines and directories in Japanese. For example, entering "Japan clinical psychology" in Japanese will produce 100 times more useful results than searching for "Japan clinical psychology" in English.
May sound even more obvious but.....
Whether you are Japanese or not it may not create the impression you want to if you write saying you are looking for a job as a "bilingual counselor". Japan like any other country has good mental health who want to assist ALL people regardless of the clients' nationality and the language they speak. Being able to speak English or other languages can be a useful skill at times but is perhaps best not regarded as a way to avoid (re)adjustment into Japanese society.
In a country where until relatively recently there were not as many opportunities to gain experience through official 'internship programs' as in other countries even qualified therapists often find career opportunities initially through volunteering at counseling centers and community organizations.
If you are not Japanese and do not yet have the JSCCP or PSW (Psychiatric Social Worker) qualifications and are seriously considering working here as a useful and effective mental health counselor or JFP (Japanese Federation for Psychotherapy) psychotherapist within the mental health professional community here in Japan you should:
1. learn to speak and understand Japanese.
2. gain a good working knowledge of Japanese society, culture and values.
3. not consider working with Japanese or clients of any other nationality in English unless you understand Japanese too.
4. be prepared to be patient. It takes longer to become established and respected here. If you simply are looking for a relatively more relaxing and financially rewarding way to experience a year or two living and experiencing life in Japan and have more vacation time to enjoy it you could probably achieve this in less demanding occupations.
5. be prepared to study at least to masters level in order to become fully qualified to work as a mental health care professional in Japan.
6. make contact with and establish an effective working relationship within a Japanese hospital/clinic which has psychiatrists on staff who are nationally licensed in Japan to provide treatment and diagnosis, or find a position within an established counseling center which also has the resources, connections and an effective working relationship with a Japanese hospital/clinic with psychiatrists on staff who can support your clients in situations where they are in need of immediate recommendation to an established medical institution for medical support or hospitalization.
7. Finally I would also clearly advise against thinking about seeing clients in you own apartment and giving out your personal phone number. There are many social, cultural, professional and ethical reasons for not doing so in Japan. At the least you could find yourself feeling unsupported, vulnerable and socially isolated. It could also lead to unforeseen problems for both your clients and for yourself to do so.