Psychiatric Social Workers in Japan
Nationally Licensed Psychiatric Social Workers in Japan
In Japan Psychiatric Social Workers (PSW’s) are nationally licensed by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. There are strict licensing regulations for the training of these mental health practitioners and in order to be allowed ot sit the national examination to be qualified as a PSW it is necessary to have quaduated from a four year degree course in psychology from a recognized university in Japan. There has been a legal requirement for all social workers providing mental health services to be qualified, post-graduate trained and nationally licensed in Japan since April 1st April 1997. This national licensing of Psychiatric Social Workers has also on had an influence on young graduates of psychology as to their choice of career path into the field of psychotherapy. All medical institutions such as Sougo Byouin (general hospitals), Seishin byoin (psychiatric hospitals), Shinri Naika (psychiatric community clinics) and local Mental Health Welfare Centers (Hokensho) have been required by law to employ for their to be at least one PSW whenever the facility is open to the public.).
Qualifications/Legal Requirements to be a National Licensed PSW
Having at least a first degree in Psychology is one of the basic requirements to be accepted onto the one-year educational and in house training programs at one of the specialist educational institutes that have sprung up since the passing of the Act in 1997. It is a prerequisite to graduate from one of these specialist education institutes in order to be eligible to sit the examination to qualify and become nationally licensed in Japan to work in the mental health care field as a Psychiatric Social Worker. In practice some psychology graduates who have graduated with a masters level degree have also elected to train as a PSW because of the perception of greater job security and social position which is afforded in Japan to occupations which are nationally licensed. Nationally licensed professions are regarded by the public and by parents of young graduates as being more respectable as well as offering better salaries and job security. In a society where the opinion and worries of ones parents still merits great respect and consideration in the process of choosing ones career, some young psychology graduates make their career choices according to their family’s wishes as much as to their own.