Counseling Psychotherapy Japan

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Mental Health Counseling: Situations Facing People in Tokyo and Japan - 1

"I provide counseling to Japanese students who spend a semester abroad here. I was wondering if you have any information about the most common psychiatric or psychological problems facing young 18 - 20 year old women, in your experience"...

Among the most common problems facing young women in this age range and those in their twenties I would definitely include eating disorders, depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive behavior. Many who come for counseling often give as their reason for doing so as experiencing problems in forming "ningen kankei" which is often directly translated as "human relationships" and covers both personal relationships inside and outside the family and also in more general social environments such as at college or within a company.

.... Also how is it treated there?

As in any country treatment varies considerably depending on the psychiatrist providing that treatment. Perhaps I should first explain that some psychiatrists here may still regard mental health care and other psychological support services to be solely within their 'domain' and simply don't see or understand the need for counseling from other health care providers as an integral part of the treatment of anorexia or any other kinds of psychological disorders. They tend to take a completely pharmacological approach to treatment, in some cases sometimes seeing the client for several minutes only, prescribing medication and offering very little in the way of counseling or other forms of psychological support. However I think it's fair to say that among the majority of psychiatrists here there are many very gifted and skilled doctors who place a stronger emphasis on a teamwork approach to psychiatric care and counseling and who would favor combining their own psychiatric and diagnostic skills with individual and family counseling at independent counseling centers, university student counseling centers or by referring to other medical specialists.

What's the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist here?

Basically a psychologist is a trained counseling and group therapy mental health care provider providing psychological and social support services. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who is also a trained mental health care provider but who, as a medical doctor, is licensed in Japan ('kokkashikaku') by the Ministry of Health and Welfare to diagnose, prescribe medication and provide treatment. Some people find it easier to have counseling with a registered mental health counselor (clinical psychologist or psychotherapist) rather than a psychiatrist. But of course counselors, psychotherapists and psychiatrists are concerned with the same fundamental aim: to help the client find a solution to their problem whether it is mainly a social, emotional or mental problem.

It is worth mentioning that the situation at present in Japan is that only medical doctors are legally nationally qualified and licensed (kokkashikaku) by the Ministry of Health and Welfare to diagnose, provide treatment and/or prescribe medication. C.P.s here are board certified by the Japan Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists to provide counseling services in the form of client centered psychological and support services. It is neither ethical nor legal for anyone other than a medical doctor licensed by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare, regardless of whether they may be qualified or licensed to do so in states or countries abroad, to be offering diagnosis ("shindan") or treatment ("iryou") as part of their counseling services in Japan.

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