Times Article by Angela Jeffs - August 10th 1997
ourselves from the muddle of our lives
you stressed, anxious, even deeply depressed? Abusing yourself with
food, drugs or alcohol - possibly because you were abused as a child?
Or is it more a feeling that Japan is driving you crazy, that your
established ways are just not working here? Maybe you're finding it
hard to adjust, leading to trouble at work, in your marriage, with
Certainly modern-day Japan is not the hardship post it was considered
even a decade ago, but it still may be necessary to create new modes
of behavior and thinking to get a handle on life here. Alternatively,
you may just want to use the unique opportunity to grow and expand
your current state of being, utilizing the "Japan Experience" for
There can be few people in the world, believes psychotherapist and
healer Prem Dana, who could not benefit from working toward recovery
from long-term problems, a more immediate crisis, or just the sense
of not wanting to waste a potentially positive experience.
For the last few years she has been counseling foreign and English-speaking
Japanese clients in Tokyo who are ready to face their problems, and
who want to resolve their difficulties and move on in their lives in
a constructive way. Previously she was in Omote-sando. More recently
she moved her office to near Meguro station.
AND HEALER Prem Dana counsels foreign and English-speaking Japanese
clients in Tokyo who are ready to face their problems, and who
want to resolve their difficulties and move on in their lives
in a constructive way.
slim, gentle, attractive woman in her 30s (so "nice" that
the initial impression at least is definitely more sugar
than spice), Prem Dana talked in her counseling room. Though
is simple, it is distinctly unspartan with daffodil colored
chairs, sweet-pea hued scatter cushions, a "shoji" screen
and ethnic rugs. Very easy to relax in and feel "at
she reacted in surprised discomfort as I began to ask questions.
It was a new experience, she said, laughing nervously, to be
on the other side of the fence in such a situation, having to
discuss her personal life and feelings to a stranger instead
of the other way round. "I'm not sure how I feel about it
yet," she admitted.
that her approach combines the spiritual understanding of Eastern
practices with the psychological and emotional healing
of Western psychotherapeutic practices, she stressed "integration,
understanding and trust" as the primary focus her work.
Personal and work experiences have shown that it is often when one
is away from one's home environment that the aspects of a personality
or a relationship tend to surface. She believes it both a challenge
and a paradox that such aspects can be the door to self-awareness
and personal advancement.
"I've always been a listener, as much concerned with the problems
of the world as wanting to listen to myself," she revealed. "Even
as a child growing up in Australia I was like that."
Her mother was a kindergarten teacher, her father a carpenter, and
with her brothers and sister, her 94 year old grandmother and twin
sister (Australia's answer to Kin-san and Gin-san), are all still
in Melbourne. "Though geographically distant
we're still very close, respecting the differences in our work and
life styles. But I'm the most different, I guess."
After training in clinical psychology she developed expert skills
through specializing in depression and eating disorders. She then
gained registration as a Family
Therapist. This enabled her to work with individuals, couples, even entire
families, all within the context of what she regards as "the
interactive and powerfully molding force of the family unit."
She left Australia two days after her 30th birthday, wanting to gain a broader
outlook in her chosen profession. "First, I went to England" she explained. "I
worked with a practice in West London and also studied hypnotherapy in Oxford.
Then I went to India.”
With a name like Prem Dana, the meditational name she was given in Poona (Prem
means love, Dana, giving), it is obvious that India was a powerful influence,
both through time spent living in an international therapy and spiritual center
and the people she met there. One of these was her Japanese partner, which in
large part explains why she finds herself at home these days in Tokyo.
"It was while living in the ashram that I further developed my thinking
and techniques in the link between spirituality and psychology," she explained. "I
believe this understanding helps me provide therapy as a bridge to healing
and recovery at the very deepest levels. Hence the name, 'Psychotherapy and
Asked to describe case histories that might offer some insight into her approach.
she shook her head. "Not without permission - and obviously those most
seriously troubled people wouldn't want their problems made public. You have
my clients trust me with their lives. But if you give me time, I'll ask around."
Two non-Japanese women proved willing to talk. (Male clients, whatever their
nationality, are apparently much more hesitant.)
One in her 20s recently sought assistance with overcoming a block in
following her chosen career. Within several sessions, she began
to take practical steps in achieving her goal while repositioning
herself in relation to her family members. "I would say that
overall, therapy led to an increase in clarity and direction for
herself in life," said Prem Dana.
This first woman, "M," said that after two months of working with
Prem Dana, she felt only gratitude. The Australian therapist was able to give
her exactly what she needed at that particular point in her life, making her
see things more clearly and with renewed confidence.
"M" believes Prem Dana has a deep intuitive understanding for feelings
and situations that could otherwise sometimes be hard to express. "Prem" is
a "nice" person, and definitely a great therapist!" said "M."
The second woman, in her early 30s, has been in therapy on a longer term basis,
working on her sense of identity, and her ways of being in the world in relation
to herself, her career, family and partner.
This client, having been through therapy before, had been made aware of various
experiences in her past that had contributed to her adult personality and behavior,
but had not been properly guided on how to change that behavior. Prem Dana,
however, she believes has a treasure store of "tricks" up her sleeve;
she is brilliant at choosing a precise "exercise" that is most appropriate
to the session's challenge.
"Whether it is hypnosis, guided imagery, an active exercise like communicating
with various aspects of oneself, or just careful listening sparked with poignant
questions, "K" kindly faxed, "most sessions end up being incredibly
With both these clients, Prem Dana felt her capacity lay in continuing to encourage
and guide them in the discovery and expression of their preferred outcome. "It
would seem that Japan offers a unique experience to people that is both exciting
and stressful at times. Examining oneself outside the confines of one's own
culture allows for people to begin to be the determiners or authors of their
Not only is she protective of her clients privacy, but also very careful in
handling their psyches and egos, Her softly thoughtful, slightly breathy manner
of speaking may in large part be a reflection of this approach.
As for the future, she plans to run a series of group workshops that focus
on specific topics like relating, emotions and gender issues, as well as work
progressively in a general way through communication and integration.
Prem Dana apologized for that early touch of paranoia in being questioned.
Yet while talking a lot and appearing very open, she had managed to give very
little away on a truly personal level, which can only be described as psychologically
"I've been lucky," she countered. "I've faced many difficulties
in my life, therefore, I have an experiential knowledge of the recovery process
on top of the learned one. While grateful to all those problems for that, I
'm protective, too. It's true that there is still a lot of stigma attached
to the human condition of emotional and psychological distress. So while I'm
nowhere near so-called perfect, really I'm good enough."
The Psychotherapy and Healing Practice is now located near JR Shinagawa Station.
Sessions are one hour in duration unless
For an appointment or to inquire about group therapy call 03-3491-8144 or
phone fax 03-3449 2526.