Mental Health Counseling in Japan: A Horror Story

Mental Health Counseling in Japan: A Horror Story

We need to talk about mental health.

Considering that Japan is a country with a high suicide rate, it’s a shame that mental health care remains relatively inaccessible to this day, with scant information about counselling, as well as the fact that the national health insurance does not cover it.

For foreigners living in Japan, mental health care is even more challenging as choices are limited and practices are sometimes left unchecked. This video is about a terrible experience I had with an American counselor in Tokyo. It still baffles me how this person is allowed to practice to this day, given that his behavior is offensive and questionably legal.

What I have said here only scratches the surface. If you google well enough, you will find several accounts of how this so-called counsellor stalked, scammed, and scarred us all.

You have been warned.

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  1. It’s not all that strange. A licensed counselor is not qualified to prescribe drugs. In the US, one must be a medical doctor who has specialized in psychiatry in order to be able to do so. A counselor provides therapy, while a psychiatrist prescribes drugs and does little to no therapy. It is common for both to work in cooperation. One will counsel you on your problems, while the other will prescribe drugs, if necessary to combat any mental disorders, such as anxiety or depression.

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  3. Japan is one of the worst places in the world for mental health care. If you have depression or some other mental illness, Japan is not the place for you. Japan is 100 years in the past with mental health care. People (both Japanese and non-Japanese) with depression or mental illness suffer alone in Japan with very little good or effective care or treatment.

  4. And after looking up Berger, he’s an MD and Psychiatrist. They are not particularly well versed in counseling, and are essentially doctors who can prescribe psychiatric drugs. They are rarely trained to counsel people and the majority appear to have no interest in it. Find s counselor, someone licensed as a family therapist (MFT etc.). Counselors are trained to help people through personal struggles, while psychiatrists are essentially there to treat you with drugs. If you want to avoid drugs, avoid psychiatrists.

  5. Thanks for posting that. Nicely presented too! About 10 years ago I was having counselling in Tokyo and I was warned very emphatically by another professional not to have anything to do with the counsellor you are talking about. Just adding to Glen’s commnent, the guy I saw (who was very good) did operate from an apartment – it’s not an unusual arrangement in Tokyo.

  6. Do not confuse the psychologist with psychiatrist, there is a big difference between them. Actually, psychologists cannot prescribe an any sort of medication, this rule is worldwide.

  7. And it is not all too uncommon for foreign counselors and psychiatrists to operate out of an apartment in Japan. That being said, he doesn’t sound terribly good.

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