An interview with Mira Simic-Yamashita
Dr. Mira Simic-Yamashita
Psychologist, therapist, educator
Lecturer in Psychology, Okayama University
Doctorate degree in Psychology (Okayama University, Japan)
CL. Hyp., Rapid Transformational Therapy
What made you decide to become a therapist?
I was born in Bosnia, in ex-Yugoslavia, central Europe. In the 1990s, my country experienced a disastrous war, and the country dissolved into seven different tiny countries. I was 16 when it started. With my mother and brother, I escaped from the war zone and went to Serbia as a refugee. I continued my high school education there.
As a “vulnerable” refugee adolescent, I participated in a group workshop, held by a famous Serbian psychologist and therapist. I was impressed by her personality, strength, and compassion. Her skill moved us from vulnerability and tears, to laughter and empowerment, and she worked with our emotions and acceptance. It was then that I learned what emotions are, and how powerful emotional healing can be. I so wanted to be like her, and to do what she did for us, that when I was choosing university, I elected to study psychology. To this day, she is one of my greatest role models.
Where did you attend school, and what degrees did you receive?
I attended undergraduate studies of psychology at Belgrade University in Serbia. Later, I came to Japan on graduate studies, and acquired Masters and Doctoral degrees in psychology at Okayama University. In the meantime, I also briefly attended Western Michigan University in the US.
What brought you to Japan? Do you offer counseling in Japanese?
It was a combination of curiosity and a good fortune. I was lucky to receive a scholarship of the Japanese government to pursue graduate studies in Japan. I do speak Japanese, but I don’t offer therapy in it, although sometimes my clients use Japanese in the sessions.
How long have you been practicing?
I have been practicing and teaching psychology for over 20 years.
I started my career as an elementary school counsellor, while at the same time pursuing my training in cognitive -behavioral therapy and counselling; In 2003, a Japanese government scholarship brought me to Okayama University for graduate studies in psychology. I planned to stay for two years, but as it happened, I found love in Japan and stayed forever.
While doing my university research I was also providing online counselling services to Serbian and Bosnian expats living in the US and Europe. In Japan, I mainly worked in the academic field, researching and teaching psychology at Okayama University and Hyogo University.
In 2018, I discovered a cutting-edge therapeutic modality, called Rapid Transformational Therapy, that I was instantly drawn to. In 2019, I started with the online training, and in April same year I went to Vancouver, Canada for the live training. Since my graduation in June 2019, I have provided RTT services in Japan and internationally.
Do you work more with children, adults or families?
I work mainly with adults, providing individual and group sessions. RTT is also excellent for children, but is not suitable as a couple or family therapy.
What methods, assessments, and tools do you use with your clients?
Today RTT is my main and absolutely favorite method. I love it because it’s exciting, it works directly with the subconscious mind, and provides fast and long-lasting results, unlike any other talk or cognitive therapy that I practiced before. It is a holistic method, that works well not only with psychological issues, but with physical as well. In addition to RTT, I also use some methods from client-centered counseling, positive psychology, NLP and neuroscience.
What do you consider to be the most important traits for a therapist to have?
Being compassionate, accepting and non-judgmental, but also being directive when needed. As a therapist, my two main duties are to free my clients from their past “baggage”, and to empower them to step into the future on their own terms.
What are your thoughts on virtual therapy?
My work is entirely online. I have offered virtual therapy for well over a decade now, and I absolutely love it. I started using Skype for counselling when online counselling wasn’t well known. I live in Japan, and my clients then were Serbian and Bosnian expats who lived in the US and Europe, so Skype was my main tool to work with them. Virtual therapy works as well as in person, if not better, as clients feel more comfortable to have therapy in their own home.
What do you do outside of work that helps you maintain a healthy, well-balanced life?
My family is my oasis, and most of my free time I spend with my husband, two children and a dog. When I’m not working with clients or at the university, I enjoy traveling, reading and playing flute. Dog walking and yoga are my favorite types of exercise for maintaining balance. I am also a coffee lover and exploring local cafes in Kobe is one of my fun activities.
If you weren’t a therapist, what would you do for a living?
I would be probably doing more research and lecturing, as educating others about psychology and mental health is my great passion. Or I’d open my own owl café.
Doctorate degree in Psychology (Okayama University, Japan)
Master degree in Psychology (Okayama University, Japan)
Bachelor degree in Psychology (Belgrade University, Serbia)
Training: Rapid Transformational Therapist (Marisa Peer Method), Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP practitioner, Language and Behavior (LAB) practitioner, Positive Psychology Coaching, Client-Centered Counseling, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Belgrade University), Higher-order behavioral principles (Western Michigan University)
Memberships: I am an accredited member of International Association of Counselors and Therapists (IACT) and I work within the ethical guidelines of this organization.