Clinical Psychologist in Tokyo

Tel: 03-3716-6624  Japanese version

How To Become a Clinical Psychologist in Japan

Many people inquire on how to become a clinical psychologist in Japan. The Meguro Counseling Center can provide the following information, however, please note that this information may be incomplete or change so that you would need to confirm the latest criteria on your own from the Foundation of the Japanese Certification Board for Clinical Psychologists.

Career counseling is also available through the Meguro Counseling Center with fees requested similar to counseling sessions. Please contact the Center if you wish to have this service.

You need to be a Japan Certified Clinical Psychologist to work as a clinical psychologist and get malpractice insurance in Japan. There are two main routes to this certificate:

  • 1.) One route to this certification is to receive a Master's degree from a clinical psychology program at a Japanese university. Naturally, you need to speak, read, and write fluent Japanese to get these degrees.
  • 2.) If you have a Master's degree in clinical psychology from an overseas university it is still possible to take the Japan Clinical Psychology Certification test (in Japanese) after you have two-years of work in Japan as a counselor employed by a facility recognized by the Foundation of the Japanese Certification Board for Clinical Psychologists (the Meguro Counseling Center does not have a plan to hire counselors). This also requires you speak, read, and write fluent Japanese to work in this setting. If you are a non-Japanese, you are likely to have a language issue, a visa issue, and face significant resistance on the part of a Japanese facility to consider that a non-Japanese can function effectively as a member of their staff so that there is the conundrum on how to get started to do a job that provides malpractice insurance for which you need a visa and experience that you can not easily get.

After you receive the Clinical Psychology Certificate, you still need a work visa that specifies you will do counseling (you can not legally do counseling if your work visa does not specify this activity) from a facility that hires you, or a visa that allows you to do any kind of free enterprise; these include spouse visas (requires you have a Japanese national spouse), or a permanent resident visa. It may be possible to get a permanent resident visa if you have lived in Japan for at least 10 years on a spouse or work visa. If you are on a work visa, you need to have been sponsored by and working for some corporate entity during that time, and you need to show proof of employment, place of residence in Japan, and submit proof of Japan tax payments for the prior three years. Please refer to the Immigration Bureau of Japan website regarding visa policies in Japan.

While the route to become a clinical psychologist in Japan requires clear and intense dedication to one of the courses noted above, there are a few Western non-Japanese persons who have overcome these hurdles over the years. So while difficult, it is not impossible if you have the proper visa, adequate language skills, and can find the correct set of circumstances in Japan.

Unfortunately, the Meguro Counseling Center can not reply to each individual inquiry on how to obtain the Clinical Psychology Certificate or visa issues for Japan. Please direct these and related queries to the respective agencies responsible as noted above.



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Tokyo Meguro Counseling Center logo design by Burt Berger, AIA Emeritus, October 2008.

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The Meguro Counseling Center consists of Western-trained therapists able to provide face-to-face mental-health care for the international community in Tokyo. With extensive experience in Japan, these therapists have a deep understanding of the stresses of living in Japan.