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Ryo Shimoda

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To Face One's Own and Others' Minds - Clinical Psychologist

Ryo Shimoda
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Chuo University
Area of Specialization: Clinical Psychology

What's Clinical Psychologist?

Although the term 'clinical psychologist' may sound familiar, it seems that many people are still not exactly sure when asked what it is. To put it simply, clinical psychologists are mental professionals. They are specialists who address human mental issues using knowledge and skills based on the academic discipline of clinical psychology, and furthermore finely-honed sensibilities. In Japan, various names are given to occupations addressing mental issues, such as psychological advisor, psychological counselor and psychotherapist, and many different organizations including academic societies and private entities grant qualifications. Among them is the qualification of a clinical psychologist as a practitioner in psychology or psychological specialist, obtained after passing an examination and being certified by the Foundation of the Japanese Certification Board for Clinical Psychologists which is under the charge of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

For your information, the Foundation of the Japanese Certification Board for Clinical Psychologists accredits graduate schools to nurture those eligible to take an examination for clinical psychologists (commonly known as the accredited graduate schools for training clinical psychologists) as well. The accredited graduate schools for training clinical psychologists fall into three types: first-class accredited graduate school, second-class accredited graduate school, and professional graduate school. The Foundation has been authorized as an accreditation organization for professional graduate schools by the said Ministry.

Professional acts performed by clinical psychologists as mental specialists consist of two main pillars: psychological assessment to learn more about the subjects to be assisted (or clients) and treatment as actual assistance. Psychological assessments are conducted administrating interviews and various psychological examinations. Treatments refer to conducting helping interviews, counseling and psychotherapy as actual assistance. Above all, the specificity of this profession is to be required to constantly face one's own mind by facing clients' minds. It is a rare occupation which helps promote changes in and growth of one's own and others' minds. The occupational area of clinical psychologists covers medicine/health, welfare, education, industry/organizations, justice/corrections, and freelance/corporate practice. The total sum of successful candidates of clinical psychologists through the qualification process which started in FY 1988 amounts to over 23,000 at present.

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Clinical Psychologists

In a sense, this massive earthquake and the series of concurrent events brought a traumatic experience to the national psyche almost comparable to the one suffered through the previous war. Since immediately after the disaster, a number of clinical psychologists have been involved in aid for affected survivors and organizations in many different ways. The Japanese Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists, a professional organization of clinical psychologists, opened the Japanese Psychological Support Center for The Great East Japan Earthquake on March 23 along with the Association of Japanese Clinical Psychology with the aim of providing extensive psychological care to those afflicted, and has been offering support.

The Japanese clinical psychologists have been accumulating experience and know-how from being deeply involved in a step-by-step manner by trial and error to provide support to sufferers, victims, and the bereaved every time large-scale natural disasters-including the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the Chuetsu Earthquake-as well as various storm and flood damage, and damage from crime occur. Such accumulation strongly contributes to the efforts in this earthquake disaster.

Does Chuo University Have an Accredited Graduate School for Training Clinical Psychologists?

There must be only a few people who know the answer to this question. As a matter of fact, the answer is yes! At Chuo University, those who enrolled in the Master's Program for Clinical Psychology of the Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Letters in AY 2007 and after fall within the scope of application of certification by the second-class accredited graduate school. Last year, two candidates who had completed their graduate study at our school passed a clinical psychologist qualification screening conducted for the first time since the school was accredited as such. I believe we will have some successful candidates again this year. Chuo University has the noble founding spirit of "providing fundamental expertise for practical application." Nurturing clinical psychologists is a part of our school efforts to embody such spirit.

Mental Issues Are Practical Issues as Well

You may think that mental issues are somewhat ambiguous and vague, and that they are therefore difficult to define. They are, however, issues that are more immediate and real world than you think. The traumatic experience caused by the disaster discussed above is one example, as is the fact that the leading cause of death among Japanese college students is suicide. We see self-injury and self-destructive behavior as well. In recent years, piercing and tattoos are in fashion, but it is not uncommon for extreme types of this fashion to carry a pathologically strong sense of self-injury behavior. Problems with drug and alcohol dependence also exist. It may be that no one is completely free from psychological issues.

Ryo Shimoda
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Chuo University
Area of Specialization: Clinical Psychology
Professor Shimoda was born in Niigata Prefecture in 1950. He completed his master's course at Graduate School of Education, International Christian University in 1976. After working as a technical official in psychology at the Ministry of Justice and a self-employed clinical psychologist, he started teaching on the Faculty of Letters, Chuo University in 2005. His recent major publications include "Cognitive Behavior Therapy in School Practice - Customizing Therapy for the Particular Needs of a Client - [Gakko Rinsho Bamen Ni Okeru Ninchi Kodo Ryoho - Kuraiento No Nizu Ni Ojita Enjo No Kumitate -]" (The Journal of Pedagogics No. 53 [Kyoiku-Gaku-Ronshu Dai 53 Shu], 2011); "The Significance of Setting Fees for Counseling and Psychotherapy [Rinsho Shinri Mensetsu Ni Okeru Ryokin No Imi]" (The Journal of Pedagogics No. 51 [Kyoiku-Gaku-Ronshu Dai 51 Shu], 2009); "Children Turning to Delinquency and Expressive Education - A Discussion from Clinico-psychological Paradigm - [Hiko Ni Hashiru Kodomotachi To Hyogen Kyoiku - Shinri Rinsho Paradaimu Karano Ichi Kosatsu]" (Man and Education No. 62 [Ningen To Kyoiku Dai 62 Go], 2009); "A Case of Kundalini Awakening as Spiritual Emergence - Counseling Assisted by Knowledge from Transpersonal Psychology [Supirichuaru Emajensu To Shite No Kundarini No Kakusei Wo Mita Jirei - Toransu Pasonaru Shinrigaku Kara No Chiken Wo Enyo Shita Kaunseringu]" (Mental Health Volume 21, No. 2 [Kokoro No Kenko Dai 21 Kan Dai 2 Go] as The Japanese Journal of Mental Health [Nihon Seishin Eisei Gakkaishi], 2006).