Dr. Masahiro Minami Discusses Japanese Morita Therapy

June 20, 2017

Dr. Masahiro Minami, Assistant Professor, joined the Faculty of Education in May 2016. He received his MA and PhD in Counselling Psychology from UBC, and his BA in Psychology from SFU. Minami is also a Registred Clinical Counsellor in BC, and a Certified Psychotherapist registered with the Japanese Society for Morita Therapy (JSMT) in Japan. Currently, he serves as the Assistant Secretary General for the International Committee for Morita Therapy.

Minami’s clinical research projects are in the area of Mental Health Services Research. Within the broader framework, he engages in needs assessment, clinical program development, training for field professionals, field implementation consultations, impact evaluations, and clinical systems engineering to address a wide range of issues on the ground. All his current research projects emerged from the mental health needs of local communities around the globe. Minami is committed to a systemic interdisciplinary approach to engage and weave local field partners and multidisciplinary teams of professionals to serve the complex needs of each community.      

Minami is currently working on several local and global projects. In Prince George, he works in close partnerships with the Milieu Children and Family Services, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), the RCMP, local school districts, and the Prince George Native Friendship Centre to develop, implement and evaluate a model of Community Complex Care Residential Resource. The model was introduced to serve the needs of children and youths with multiple and persistent mental health challenges, including complex trauma in childhood. In Vancouver, Minami is developing, implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of a comprehensive family services program (iFSP) model for families referred by the MCFD, in partnerships with the South Vancouver Youth Centre/Milieu Children and Family Services. iFSP incorporates research-informed/evidence-based intervention approaches to support families in the domains of; (a) family reunification, (b) parent-teen mediation/conflict resolution, (c) family counselling/therapy, (d) family development/preservation, and (e) parenting/teen support groups.

Minami also leads a consortium of academic professionals from Japan and the UK to develop evidence-based Japanese Morita therapy. Morita therapy is an indigenous Japanese therapy characterized as a natural, ecological, and purposeful action-based therapy developed by the late Dr. Shoma Morita, around 1920. Just shy of a 100-years old, Morita therapy invites people to approach so-called “negative” feelings as a natural human response. It welcomes people to refrain from judging what is natural (e.g., feeling sad or anxious) as good or bad, just as we would not judge an angle of a mountain or a speed of river flow in the same way. Minami has been engaged in clinical research projects to develop Morita therapy into an evidence-based intervention for the treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders.

In Rwanda, Minami co-founded and continues to serve as the director of Prison Fellowship Rwanda-Morita Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Research, in partnerships with Prison Fellowship Rwanda, and the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission. Since its inception in 2012, Minami has been nurturing reconciliation and fostering the interpersonal bond between former survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide living in the same two villages in remote areas of Rwanda. Together with local professionals and villagers, he has developed, implemented, and continues to evaluate the effectiveness of the Action-Based Psychosocial Reconciliation Approach (ABPRA). Ubwiyunge mubikorwa, or “reconciliation in action” in English, is the nickname local villagers assigned to the approach. Actions speak louder than words. Instead of asking for forgiveness, ex-perpetrators offer their weekly labour as a concrete expression of their apology, to the very survivor they once attempted to murder. Through post-session interviews, Minami's research team follows the change in survivors' and perpetrators' ‘heart and soul.’ Minami founded and co-directs the Globe in Peace (www.globeinpeace.org) project (hosted by UBC, currently in transition to SFU) to bring foreign researchers and students to join and support community reconciliation activities in Rwanda. For this work of reconciliation, Minami received the prestigious Junior Scholar Award by the Japanese Society for Morita Therapy (JSMT).

Minami states, “I feel honoured and thrilled to be part of this special and heart-filled Faculty. I look very much forward to our collaborations in the future to engage and make a difference in the world together.”