Living in Japan as an American is exciting. It’s also challenging and isolating. Though you may often be surrounded by people, the feeling of being an outsider is likely always present.

Here are common issues I hear from my work with fellow American clients living in Japan:

  • Extremely high, highs and low, lows
  • More concern or paranoia about physical health
  • Irritability
  • Loving Japanese culture one minute to hating it the next
  • Drinking more
  • Questioning decision to move to Japan
  • Feeling of missing out back home
  • Feeling disorientated
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Difficulty finding enough social support
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Physically in Japan, but mentally back in America
  • More relationship tension
Brian O’Sullivan, M.S., LMFT

How therapy can help

Though it’s completely normal to find it a challenge adjusting to life in Japan, having extra support from an American therapist can not only offer a sense of stability and comfort through a time of change and instability, but it’s also a great way to grow as a person and make the most of the challenges you currently face.

Therapy is also a great way to increase our awareness. Though we’re often aware of our challenges and certain aspects about ourselves, we can never be fully aware all the time. Therapy is a great way to uncover blind spots and make them part of our normal awareness.

Therapy is also a great way to learn about our personal triggers, habitual thought patterns, and automatic reactions. By learning more about these, we gain more control and are more likely to live a life according to our values and achieve the type of success we’re after.

Concerns for Therapy

“I don’t want to be pushed to talk about things”

Though therapy can be uncomfortable at times, my role is not to pry and open up certain areas you

One of the first things we will discuss is what you want to concentrate on during our work together. You set the topic and pace of our time together.

Though I may offer suggestions at times, I believe therapy should be collaborative effort with the client being in the driver’s seat.

“I’m afraid of being diagnosed”

Though as a mental health professionals I’m trained in diagnosing and treating mental health disorders, diagnosing and placing a label on someone is not my priority.

I believe we all struggle with the same challenges, just to varying degrees. I do not view clients as patients to be fixed or people to push my own values and agenda onto.

My goal is to understand my clients’ values and goals, and to work together to experiment and explore ways to achieve their goals.

“I’m too busy” / “I can’t afford it”

Life is very busy. And the thought of therapy can feel like you’re adding to your list when you should really be taking things off.

An alternative view to this however is, that therapy is self-care and a way to thoughtfully and intentionally re-prioritize the things in your life.

I also see it as an important investment in yourself. If you can’t afford my fee, I’m happy to help you get connected to other resources.

About Brian O’Sullivan, LMFT

I’m a native English speaker originally from California where I trained as a therapist and currently licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).

My work in counseling psychology has taught me that we are all more similar than we are different. We have very similar struggles, just to varying degrees.

As a result, my work with clients is not to label them or try to fix them. It’s also not to push my values on to them or to make choices for them.

Instead, I try to understand their values and goals, and be an objective sounding board as we experiment and explore possible solutions together.

Confidentiality and acceptance are the foundations of my work. I take them both very seriously.

I also value honest feedback about my work; whether it be positive or negative.

Why people contact me

  • There are no major challenges. The person is looking for a sounding board on a particular area of their life.
  • Day-to-day things are ok, however, the person is experiencing significant uncomfortable emotions.
  • Functioning day-to-day is a challenge and solving the issue doesn’t seem possible.