This qualitative study explored the characteristics of Japanese master therapists, extracted particular experiences conducive to optimal therapist development, and examined similarities and differences between Japanese and American master therapists.
Data collection was conducted through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 10 Japanese master therapists who gained the largest number of nominations from Japanese psychotherapists and counselors. Qualitative data analysis was processed utilizing grounded theory approach (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) and CQR method (Hill et al., 2005). Data analysis was jointly conducted by four Japanese psychologists through group consensus.
Results clarified important characteristics of Japanese master therapists. First, as a foundation, they possess positive personality traits, such as modesty, warmth, sincerity, absence of self-centeredness, and resilience. Based on these characteristics, they are able to build trustful relationships with their clients, both at an early stage, and throughout the therapy process. Second, they possess exceptional ability to perceive and process various cognitive (i.e., case formulation, objective monitoring of the therapy process, keen observation of the client's verbal and non-verbal cues) and emotional (i.e., accurate empathy, use of the therapist's feelings during the session) information from the client, from the therapist him/herself, and from the therapy process. This perceptive capacity of understanding makes it possible to perform at a high level of therapeutic effectiveness, maintaining a flexible therapeutic stance depending on the client. Third, master therapists are able to continuously learn from their experiences, stimulated by their curiosity and creativity, as well as their sense of responsibility and discipline as professionals.
Finally, cross-cultural comparison of Japanese and American master therapists was discussed, a model of master therapist development was proposed, and suggestions for future research and therapist training were offered.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2010. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisor: Michael Goh, Ph.D., 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 131 pages, appendices A-G.
Personal and professional characteristics of Japanese Master therapists:a qualitative investigation on expertise in psychotherapy and counseling in Japan..
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