Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 283–293 | Cite as

Language, cultural psychology, and family therapy: Japanese examples from an international perspective

  • David McGill


Psychotherapists may find the study of foreign languages valuable in understanding the cultural psychology of relationships. The logic and grammar of the language used to form relationships may offer some insight into how relationships breakdown and can be restored in psychotherapy. Language and thought are inseparable in the Whorf and Sapir hypothesis.

This paper illustrates how other-centeredness, indirection, indecision, and apology are embedded in Japanese grammar and become the foundation for Japanese relationships. Two other central ideas of Japanese culture,Amae (interdependency) andOmote/Ura (public and private selves), are also presented with implications for presenting complaints, therapeutic relationships, and treatment techniques.


Health Psychology Social Issue Foreign Language Family Therapy Treatment Technique 
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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • David McGill
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Cambridge HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolUSA
  2. 2.Cambridge

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