Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bilingual Counseling

Back when I used to teach English in Taiwan, some fellow teachers and I would jokingly refer to some of our private classes as "therapy cases"--some people would just take English classes to have someone to talk to and take advantage of the dissociative effects of speaking a foreign language.

The Asahi Shimbun has a story on an actual therapist, a gaijin names Andrew Grimes, who offers counseling in English and Japanese.
Grimes is intrigued by language. For some of his Japanese patients, English offers something of a reprieve, an easier way of talking about their problems. "There is a belief in some people's hearts and minds that perhaps speaking in English, one is able to express one's individual, personal feelings more freely," he says, offering examples of patients who have endured abuse in one language and feel more at ease talking about it in another.
The article says he also counsels international couples. I can see how it would be beneficial to have someone who'd get the nuances of both languages.


IbaDaiRon said...

I haven't heard any recent statistics on the stability of international marriages, but from earlier ones indicating a greater likelihood of break-up, it sounds like this Grimes has found a good niche.

As for the dissociative effects, I know there are some things I can say in Japanese without batting an eye that I'd rather die than say in English.


amida said...

I saw something somewhere about the effects of using a target-language name in foreign language classes. Some people think they are beneficial for just that reason--you don't mind making the mistakes as much when you are using a new name.

In English classes in Taiwan, just about everyone uses an English name. In my Chinese classes in the States, everyone used a Chinese name. In Japanese classes and in English classes in Japan, it is my experience that everyone uses their real names. (Though they forgo the honorifics.)