Handbook of Culture, Therapy, and Healing

By Uwe P. Gielen; Jefferson M. Fish et al. | Go to book overview

15

Japanese Forms of Psychotherapy:
Naikan Therapy and Morita Therapy

Junko Tanaka-Matsumi

Kwansei Gakuin University

Studies on healing practices across cultures have revealed the close relationship between basic cultural concepts and specific forms of treatment, and have underscored the importance of shared worldviews held by client and therapist (Draguns, 1975; Frank & Frank, 1991). Prince (1980) broadened the scope of psychotherapy to include all forms of "altered states of consciousness." He stated that Western conceptions of psychotherapy must be drastically expanded if we are to understand the diverse therapeutic procedures of other cultures. According to Frank and Frank (1991), all psychotherapies share at least four effective features: a therapist-client relationship, a special healing setting, a therapy rationale, and a therapeutic ritual or procedure. Accepting these elements as "exogenous mechanisms," Prince (1980) viewed psychotherapy as the mobilization of the person's "endogenous mechanisms" such as sleep, rest, and social isolation in order to relieve personal distress. Endogenous mechanism such as induced social isolation is a basic element in both Naikan and Morita therapies. It is systematically mobilized to increase client's attention to previously avoided anxiety provoking events or to important interpersonal relations. The interpretation of the meaning or cause of distress and the methods of relieving suffering vary according to culture.

The first goal of this chapter is to present two forms of indigenous psychotherapies developed in Japan and to explore their exogenous and endogenous mechanisms. The second goal of the chapter is to examine both universal and culture-specific aspects of two Japanese therapies.

I applied a combined etic-emic perspective (Segall, Dasen, Berry, & Poortinga, 1999) to organize the relevant literature. The etic position examines universalist features of all forms of psychotherapies (Draguns, 2002). The emic, or cultural relativist position, helps accommodate culture at the individual level in psychotherapeutic practice.


CULTURAL ACCOMMODATION IN PSYCHOTHERAPY

Culture has been defined in many different ways. Culture is "the man-made part of the environment" (Herskovits, 1948, p. 17). It encompasses "behavioral products of others who preceded us and it contains values, language, and a way of life" (Segall et al., 1999, p. 2). From a semiotic perspective, culture is "an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols" (Geertz, 1973, p. 89). Cultural psychologists emphasize a dynamic interaction of the context and the person. Effective communication

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