Dr Jonna D. Douglass, PhD

Dr Jonna D. Dougladd PhDOccupation:
Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist

Time in Japan:
Two and a half years

Where are you from?

I' from the States. I lived in Florida for about 17 years before I came to Japan, and numerous other places before that. I grew up in the Midwest.

What brought you to Japan?
This is my second time in Japan. Thirty years ago I was here with my husband, who was career Navy, and we lived in Hayama. This time I came for a job and stayed in that position for about four or five months. Then I resigned and opened my own office.

How did you go about opening your own office?
Well, it required that I have a Japanese sponsor, so a friend who knew that I faced leaving Japan otherwise said he thought he could help. He knew a wonderful Japanese couple in Tochigi Prefecture who were in a position to sponsor me, and now I do a bit of consulting for them regarding families who have disabled children. The rest of the time I have a psychotherapy and consulting practice with the foreign community.

What kind of clientele do you have?
From the nationality perspective, about half of my clients are from North America. The other half are made up of people from all over the world. The problems are pretty much the same as you encounter anywhere, like relationship issues, work problems, stress reactions, school problems, and more medical issues of depression and anxiety. But because of the international aspect, the life stories are very different from those in the States.

Do you have a specialty?
One focus I have is "family systems therapy," meaning the stresses put on a family when changes occur. That could be couple work, difficulty with kids, or other problems between people within a family or organization. I use a lot of dream and art imagery. I sometimes have people draw, and I look at their art in a psychological way and see what unconsciously might be going on that affects their life.

Do many people come to you with international marriage problems?
Yes. In international marriages often people will look at their problems as a product of their different cultures. That's certainly one factor, but even within the same culture, people decide to share a life with people from different families and different places. Gender differences are almost like a different culture as well, so international differences are just another overlay. When two people decide to make a home together, they come with all their different backgrounds and they need to respect those differences and learn to effectively communicate and negotiate across them rather than try to erase them.

What do you think is the most difficult thing about being a foreigner in Japan?
Not being able to speak the language. I have friends who are fluent in Japanese and I think they have made relationships in a different kind of way than you can if you don't speak Japanese.

Do you have any advice for people coming to Japan?
Be open-minded and adaptable. Adaptability is a necessity when you're living in another culture. You can be really excited about all the differences at first, but after a while you want things to be like you know. Curiosity and a desire to constantly learn new things makes you more patient with things that seem different.

What's your recipe for a happy and successful life in Japan?
Patience and the realization that a different way of living isn't better or worse, it's just different.

Contact Dr Douglass at 03-5570-5225 or email

Dr Jonna D. Douglass spoke to Maki Nibayashi.

Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? If so, email us at

360: Gustavo Marchesi
Professional tango dancer
355: Alec McAulay
352/3: Mary Frenzel
Professional singer / songwriter, bandleader & voice instructor
350: Kate Smurthwaite
Bond analyst and aspiring novelist
349: Tim Spangler
Recreational Equipment, Inc.
348: Robin Rozzell
Tribal Nation Security
347: Marco Invernizzi
Bonsai artist
346: Charles E McJilton
345: Chris Chavez
344: Donna Burke
Singer and narrator
343: Dennis Sun
Artist, freelance graphic design and illustrator
342: Martin Hope Berry
Natural food shop owner
341: Donald James Berry
Technical Adviser
340: Amy Jorrisch
Tokyo International Players
339: Anthony Al-Jamie Ph.D.
Education consultant and journalist
338: Joel Silverstein
President of Outback Steakhouse Japan
337: Neal Dauber
Termite and Pest Control Operator
336: Marcus Spurrell
CEO of No Mass Media, Internet Co.
335: Stefan Fanselow
Flight Instructor
334: Colleen Lanki
Theater Artist
333: Ben Leibson
Scuba Diver
332: Bernard Yu
Executive Director of TELL
331: Hayden "Hay-chan" Majajas
Informations Systems Manager
330: Alistair McLachlan
BootsMC Finance manager
329: Ronald Lee Davis
Missionary / Teacher
328: Ed Durbrow
327: Isabelle Maranda
Marketing Coordinator
326: Brian Marcus
Food & Beverage Director at Tokyo American Club
325: David Baran
Managing Partner, Compass Partners
324: Murali Kupusami
Furla Tea & Coffee Owner/Model
323: Angela Jones
Fire Dancer
322: Tim Tsang
Coordinator for International Relations (CIR)
321: Chris Monnier
320: David Snyder
President of Rising Crane Sports Consultants, Inc.
319: Juliet Hindell
BBC's Tokyo Correspondent
318: Sid Lloyd
Football team captain
317: Niels Frederik Walther
Chef for the Danish Ambassador
316: Jonathan Katz
Jazz musician and composer
315: Yoichi Hayase
President, True Travel, K.K.
314: Ira Bolden
Program Manager
313: Benjamin Gurnsey
Corporate Communications at Sony Computer
312: Dr Jonna D. Douglass, PhD
Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist
311: Roy Kilner
Izakaya Manager
310: Neil Day
Senior Software Research Engineer
309: Stuart Ablett
Sakaya Operator
308: Maggie Tai Tucker
Animal Trainer
307: Carmine Cozzoline
Restaurant Owner/Chef
306: Alison Noonan
305: Kevin Meyerson
Rainbow Japan Inc. President
304: Randy McGraw
DirecTV Marketing Manager
303: Roy Ron
302: Antonio Plozay-Liberatore
Economist/TV Talent
300: Miguel Angel

Issues 300-360
Issues 250-299

Issues 150-199
Issues 138-149