Couples Counseling


Tokyo Mental Health is here to support you and provide you with the help you need.

What is Couples Counseling? How does it work?

Do you feel like your relationship or marriage has hit a breaking point?

Has romance been replaced by arguments?

Are you hoping to find new ways to connect with your partner?

Do you often feel misunderstood or find yourself having the same argument with no end?

Every couple has problems, misunderstandings, and hard times; this is the reality of human relations. However, although conflict is inevitable, addressing dysfunctional patterns in your dynamic can help improve your relationship and connection to your partner. Our therapists are sensitive to a variety of relationship challenges that couples face, especially for those that are from different cultures, and are living abroad far from home and familiarity.

Couples Counseling is based on providing support to improve communication between two parties, while teaching strategies to change ineffective repetitive patterns of thoughts and behaviors that erode the relationship quality. It is a safe space where a couple can openly talk with each other, with the assurance that each partner will be heard and supported to reach a solution together.

Handling a relationship requires commitment and effort from each partner, and the same applies during the counseling process. Issues that drive the couple apart can be jointly coped with, if each partner invests equal effort into the counseling process. Endless arguments, disinterest, anger, and resentment can all be effectively dealt with by working with a certified Couples and Marriage Counselor.

The therapist’s role is to serve as mediator to guide both parties in identifying their role in their relationship problems, and to provide tools that empower them to make improvements. The therapist helps the couple to tackle immediate problems and prevent further damage to the relationship, while simultaneously working to strengthen the partners’ bond for the future.

How do you do couples counseling?

Couples need to come to couples counseling together. We usually cannot have an individual session with only one partner in advance of seeing a couple together. This is to avoid the imbalance of the multiple therapeutic relationships in the session, or any perception of bias.

If your partner is not willing to come to couples therapy, then you could start with individual counseling first, to understand the relationship dynamic and how to communicate from your end. Once your partner is ready to start couples counseling, then you would need to see a different therapist, typically someone who specialises in couples counseling.

Once you have established a therapeutic relationship with a couples counselor as a couple, it is possible to to have individual sessions with the therapist during the therapeutic process. You would need to discuss with your therapist once the couples counseling has started.

There is one exception to the above. If there is concern about the possibility of intimate partner violence, most couples counselors will not see a couple together, but instead offer individual sessions. Intimate partner violence is considered by many to be a contraindication for couples counseling.

Couples and Marriage Counseling Techniques

There is a wide variety of couples counseling approaches. Some of the most common are:

Helps with the externalization of problems and communication issues through the techniques developed by Michael White. In this approach, “people are not the problem, the problem is the problem”. Read More

This approach works under the assumption that the person cannot be understood outside the Family unit. Because of this, during therapy, the couple will get to know each other better and find the origin of their problems by understanding each other’s ‘parts’.

This is based on the importance of the here and now, and how to appreciate the good and happy experiences in the present, instead of just looking at past experiences.

Utilizing a thorough assessment, this approach combines individual and couples sessions to create a treatment plan to address the relationship areas of growth and enhance its existing strengths. It focuses on strengthening the relationship in three areas: friendship, conflict management, and the creation of shared meaning.

Helping couples uncover and keep the love they began with.

EFT helps couples enhance their emotional connections by increasing both partners’ emotional accessibility and responsiveness. It changes the ineffective interactions so our fundamental needs of safety and love can be met.

Cultural Differences In Cross-Cultural Couples​

In relationships where both members come from the same country, communication problems are common. The meanings of words and their use are not always the same for everyone, even within the same community. Likewise, the new couple must get used to differences in ideas, customs, and lifestyles when they begin to live together. This process is difficult for couples from the same culture, but it is a very different challenge for couples who come from different cultures and countries.

At Tokyo Mental Health, we provide special attention to cross-cultural couples, where a trained therapist will support the couple in the development of better communication strategies, respect, and tolerance techniques. In a cross-cultural relationship, it is especially important to take into account what the couple has in common, while respecting the differences.

Tokyo Mental Health Couples Counselors

Yoriko is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and is a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT). Yoriko worked as a Lead Clinical Supervisor at the Community Mental Health Center in the USA seeing clients and training licensed and unlicensed clinicians before she relocated to Japan. Yoriko has experience working with individuals of all ages, from young children to older adults, with depression, trauma, ADD/ADHD, PTSD, adjustment disorders, general anxiety, social anxiety, behavioral problems, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and many other conditions. Her treatment approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, motivational interviewing, object relations, seeking safety, interpersonal therapy, play/art therapy, and solution focused therapy.

Counselor Counseling and Psychotherapy at Shintomi Office

JouAn Chen, also known as Anne, holds a bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology in Taiwan. She completed her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family therapy and also received Certificate of Advanced Study in Child Therapy from Syracuse University. Anne provides services, in English and Mandarin, to individuals, couples, and families. Her theoretical orientation includes training in systemic theory, narrative therapy, solution-focused therapy, emotionally focused therapy, and CBT.

CounselorCounseling and Psychotherapy at Shintomi Office

Ryota Sakurai is a Licensed Industrial Counselor working toward getting an MFT license. He has worked with clients with depression, general anxiety, social anxiety, behavioral problems, PTSD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and substance misuse. He uses cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, motivational interviewing, object relations, and seeking safety. He also has experience working with couples and families.

Counselor Counseling and Psychotherapy at Shintomi Office

Estefania Ospina-Alikhan is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist (LCMFT) that is fluent and bilingual in English and Spanish. She has had consistent experience working with clients of all ages and diverse backgrounds conducting individual, family, and couples therapy. Through this clinical experience and ongoing individualized training, Estefania is equipped with a variety of therapeutic skills to provide specialized treatment for adults seeking to address mental health challenges. These include depressionanxiety, bipolar disorder, grief and loss, childhood trauma, abuse, relationship distress, and navigating life transitions.