Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) From Mental Health Professionals

Published: June 21, 2021

Are people practicing as mental health therapists required to be licensed in Japan?

Response: No. There is no regulation of non-licensed individuals as long as they do not make any claims to be licensed. As long as non-Japanese terms are used, you are free to use terms such as psychotherapist, therapist, counselor, coach, etc. if you are allowed to use it in your country of origin. In other words, mental health professionals are free to use any term in English and other languages. For uses of Japanese terms such as 公認心理師 (Certified Public Psychologist) an exam, fully in Japanese, taking place once a year should be passed. Also, to use 精神科医 (psychiatrist) it is required to be a medical doctor in Japan. For use of Japanese terms such as 臨床心理士 (Certified Clinical Psychologist), mental health professionals must be accredited by the Foundation of the Japanese Certification Board for Clinical Psychologists providing the certificate. The same goes for more than 40 certifications including school psychologist, educational psychologist, family therapist etc. Please check for reference the site of the Japanese Union of Psychological Associations

Can a client who moves or repatriates to another country continue using telehealth with their Japan-based therapist?


Response: It depends on the licensing laws of the country the client will be located in, and may also be subject to specific local licensing laws. For example, in the USA it varies by state; a counselor licensed in Oregon could continue working with a client who returns to Oregon. However, a counselor  would be required to contact the board of psychology of a state where they are not licensed to check if any exceptions could be made. In this case, their state licensing board must be contacted each time. Countries may have different laws about licensing based on therapist and/or client location. It is best to contact the licensing board in your country/state of origin to check the legality of working with clients overseas.

Are there any problems with working with clients located in Japan related to my international therapy license?

Response: You should always check with your own local licensing board. In the US, most counseling boards have a regulation that requires that you obey the laws in the jurisdiction where your client is located. Because therapy and mental health counseling are unregulated in Japan, this typically means there are not legal barriers to practicing here with a US license. However, you will need to confirm the rules related to your own license in your country/state of origin regarding international practice as well as Telehealth laws if you plan to work remotely. It is important to note that even if it is legal, working remotely via Telehealth with clients living abroad has additional risks. The bounds of provider competency should be considered. Prior knowledge about Japanese systems, language, and cultural differences as well as a referral network of local providers should be considered to manage crises and provide competent care of clients living in Japan.

Can a person who has been receiving therapy continue to work with their mental health practitioner via telehealth once their practitioner moves to Japan?

Response: This will depend on the licensing board in your country of origin. For example, in most US states it is permitted to practice as long as you are licensed in the location of the client. It is important to note that insurance billing and liability insurance may be impacted by the therapist living abroad (such as a change of Tricare for military personnel). In addition, the risks of working remotely via telehealth will apply. For example, you may be less able to effectively manage crises with a client who is located abroad.

I am or will become a counselor/psychologist/therapist in my home country and come to work in Japan. Is it hard to get a job in that field or open up my own practice in Japan?

Response: It is hard to get a job in that field if you do not speak fluent Japanese. For someone who speaks English there are a limited number of international schools, universities, and NPOs. For those who do not speak fluent Japanese and wish to start a private practice, it is important to know that this presents the challenge of a limited client population of mainly English speaking expats or English speaking Japanese. You may join IMHPJ to advertise availability on our directory, but you may or may not find it challenging to build a substantial caseload. There are challenges to working in private practice in Japan due to the limited resources and mental health infrastructure here, especially for those who do not speak Japanese.  Working in private practice in Japan can be challenging due to an isolating environment and scarcity of training and professional development opportunities. Some experience working in the field is advisable to manage these challenges.

Do you have to speak a high level of Japanese to work as a counselor here?

Response: You can work as a counselor in Japan with English speaking clients without speaking a high level of Japanese. However, it is good to know that navigating high risk situations and locating resources to support clients may be much more challenging without the ability to communicate in Japanese. This challenge increases outside of major metropolitan areas where far less English is spoken. Some understanding of Japanese linguistic and cultural elements is an essential part of ethical client care in Japan for both expats and Japanese natives.

Can you get a work visa if you wish to work in private practice?

Response: No. Getting a work visa is unlikely for counselors and therapists seeking to work in private practice as their main form of employment. A Sole Proprietorship business cannot be used to sponsor a work visa. It is possible to obtain special permission to work as self-employed for a limited number of hours per week through a spouse or dependent visa. We recommend consulting an immigration lawyer to discuss visa concerns.

Can I get supervision hours towards US licensure while working as an intern in Japan?

Response: This depends on the requirements of your US State Board of Counseling or Therapy. Some states allow for a portion of the supervision requirement to be met via remote supervision (phone or videoconference). Some members of IMHPJ also offer supervision, however you will need to confirm that their qualifications meet the needs of your state board. Not all states allow interns to accrue hours working in a private practice setting. We recommend contacting your State Board directly to ask questions about internships conducted abroad. There are very few opportunities for internships or volunteering at agencies in Japan.

What is the pay range for someone doing counseling or therapy in Japan?

Response: As far as IMHPJ members are considered, the cost of services per hour is often around 10,000 yen and varies between 8,800 yen to 22,000 yen including consumption tax. Expenses of running a business including renting a room, utilities, licensing fees, training/professional development, business/income taxes etc. will be deducted from this income. Salaries at agencies and universities may be lower than in private practice.

Is liability insurance required to work in Japan? Can it be obtained here?

Response: No. Liability insurance is not required in Japan, and cannot be obtained. It is not offered to counselors and therapists by insurance companies we contacted. Most counselors and therapists work under their basic civil responsibility insurance. This does not apply to Certified Clinical Psychologist (臨床心理士). Maintaining liability insurance may be required as a part of your license responsibilities in your country of origin. You may inquire about coverage from your country of origin, however many agencies will not insure abroad.

If your question is not answered by this FAQ, please reach out directly to our outreach coordinator at this email: 

Links to counseling boards/associations: