March 11th, 2011. That day shook me to the core and changed my perspective of my life entirely.
Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami made me realize that an incredibly sad and unfortunate incident could happen to good people who have never done anything to deserve it. Tsunami took so many innocent lives of adults and children in a moment. It also took away hope, future, and dream of those who had survived. It's so unfair and unreasonable, but it was a reality.
Traumatic events do not select certain genders, ages, ethnicities and professionals. It can happen to anybody, including you and me. In addition, none of us can explain reasons why such a tragedy had to happen to the particular person. No one, absolutely no one deserves trauma. This lack of explanation, along with their deep grief and sorrow, leads people to further confusion and isolation.
"What can I do?" It has been the big question to myself since that day. This internal question became bigger and louder after I moved to Japan and engaged in disaster relief work in Ishinomaki, Miyagi for 5 months. One thing clear to me was that I need to improve my skills and become a better clinician so that I serve more people and more importantly, I bring them outcomes they are looking for. My exploration for superior psychological interventions had started.
The followings are the evidence-based psychological interventions I have been trained and/or actively engaging in;
I. Prolonged Exposure (PE): Certified PE supervisor
PE is one of the most effective PTSD treatment interventions. PE has been studied and conducted internationally for many years and it has the largest scientific data, supporting its effectiveness. VA actively uses PE as a treatment option for veterans.
II. Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation/Narrative Story-Telling (STAIR/NST): Certified therapist
STAIR/NST was developed to treat Complex PTSD, for individuals who have experienced repeated and/or chronic childhood trauma. STAIR focuses on individuals' skills to regulate emotions and relationships with others, which can be quite helpful for many.
III. Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
PCIT is the behavioral intervention both for parent and child, emphasizing improvements in parent-child interactions. Parents learn effective ways to interact and discipline their children so that their disruptive behaviors are diminished. PCIT is effective for child abuse prevention.
IV. WHO Psychological First Aid (PFA): Trainer of PFA trainers
PFA contains useful information and instructions of what to do right after a crisis happens. PFA has been utilized internationally in war zones, disaster areas and/or after shootings.
I have been a member of the dissemination projects of these interventions and PFA in Japan, and it has provided me with great opportunities to directly work with the original developers of these interventions, including Dr. Edna Foa (PE), Dr. Marylene Cloitre (STAIR/NST) and Dr. Sheila Eyberg (PCIT). I have learned so much from these great teachers as well as other professional colleagues all over the world.
Through these learning processes, I have developed deeper understanding of PTSD and its psychological structure. It helps me focus on what, when, and how to work on trauma. I also recognize the importance of addressing symptoms other than PTSD, such as depressed mood, unhelpful thoughts, trust issues, shame, guilt, anger, and hopelessness, to bring "real" relief to their life. My job is to understand each individual's unique situation and obstacle as well as to assist them to reach what they would like to achieve in their life.
You can't and perhaps don't need to erase your painful memory. But, you will make the memory insignificant enough so that you can be free from it. It's not easy, but it is quite possible for you to get there. Al least, it is worth trying, based on what I have seen in my treatments so far. I will do my best to help you achieve your goal throughout this process.
If you are still not sure, it is completely understandable because I know "the memory" seems so powerful and overwhelming right now. Please contact me and we can talk about what we can and cannot do with your particular situation. Hopefully, it will be your first step to a big change.
Sayaka Kawase, Ph.D. LCSW
What would you attempt to do
IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD NOT FAIL?
Sayaka Kawase Ph.D. LCSW
1990 Saitama University, Japan
1996 California State University, Long Beach
Bachelor's in Psychology
1999 California State University, Long Beach
Master's in Social Work (MSW)
2003 Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
2016 University of Yamanashi, Japan
Ph.D. in Medical Engineering
1999 Asian Pacific Counseling and Treatment Centers, CA
2004 Private Practice and Consulting, CA
2008 Part-time Graduate School Faculty
California State University, Dominguez Hills
2011 Vice President
NPO Kokoro Wellness Network, CA
-Disaster Relief Work in Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Japan
Tokyo Women's Medical University, Japan
National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Japan
Disaster Relief Committee
The Association of Japanese Clinical Psychology
2012 Certified Trainer in Prolonged Exposure Therapy
The Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety
University of Pennsylvania
2013 Strategic Initiatives Manager/Clinical Supervisor
Community Family Guidance Center, CA
2015 Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, CA