Counselling Associations

All Professional Bodies, National Associations (e.g. Mental Health, School, Guidance, Addiction, Faith-based etc.) and Accrediting Organisations.

The Japanese Association for Counselling Science (JACS)

Japanese Association of Student Counselling (JASC)

Japanese Telecounselling Association (JTA)

Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

Kyoto Notre Dame University

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

Background & Context

The counselling profession in Japan arose after the end of World War II, as the General Headquarters suggested the Japanese education system be reformed to introduce and include psychology, counselling, and vocational guidance from the United States (Grabosky, Ishii & Mase, 2012). The University of Tokyo set up the first counselling rooms in 1953 and in 1955, the Japanese Association of Student Counselling (JASC) was established (Fukuhara, 1989). Other associations followed in the subsequent years and in 1999, the Japanese Union of Psychological Associations (JUPA) was developed to overlook and organize activities between the growing number of these associations (Grabosky, Ishii & Mase, 2012). 

Though the mental health infrastructure in Japan is growing with it slowly becoming less taboo to discuss seeking professional help, counselling still is not actually recognized as its own distinct speciality from psychology (Watanabe-Muraoka, 2007 as cited in Grabosky, Ishii & Mase, 2012). Thus, instead of being licensed under a specific counselling body, counsellors in Japan are licensed under the Japanese Board for Clinical Psychologists (JBCP) and according to Tokyo Counselling Services, all mental health professionals aiming to work in Japan must be able to speak Japanese in order to pursue their license. 

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

As mentioned previously, as there is a lack of a national registration body, counsellors in Japan as of 2011, rely on licensure by the Japanese Board for Clinical Psychologists (JBCP) and certificates issued by academic associations and private agencies (Grabosky, Ishii & Mase, 2012). For example, the Japanese Association for Counselling Science (JACS) offers certification for counsellors looking to be certified.

Practice Settings

  • Private Practices
  • Non-profit & Non-governmental Organizations 
  • Universities

Challenges & Trends

Counselling in Japan, as with many other Asian countries has moved from being exclusively school guidance and career counselling focused to being available for a larger audience, with it being available in private practices or non-profit organizations today. However, it is highlighted in studies on the history of Japanese counselling, that in Japan’s aging population, with a third of the total population currently made up by the elderly, that counselling should steer towards being able to be accessible in order to support the elderly clients and their families/caregivers to deal with issues such as mental stress, financial burden, and grief. 

Some challenges present in the Japanese counselling scene are that counselling is still yet to be recognized as a distinct field from psychology. In Japan, counselling services are not covered by Japanese health insurance, however, psychiatric services are. Thus, as counselling is offered mainly by private practices, it can be expensive and inaccessible to many. Furthermore, the lack of a national counselling licensing body also diminishes the professional identity of a practicing counsellor. This also hinders students studying to become future professionals counsellors as well, as they often study abroad in order to obtain a degree/masters in counselling and are unable to smoothly transition into working as a counsellor in Japan when they return.

Additional Information & References

For a deeper exploration of the counselling profession in the country, interested readers are recommended to read the following journal & website articles:

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