English Counselling Kansai

Psychotherapeutic Counselling · Family Support · Training · Consultation



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Counsellor / Psychotherapist accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy




Background and Qualifications

Lil Wills, Pychotherapy Counselor in Kobe, Japan

Lil Wills

Psychotherapist, Counsellor
BA, DipCouns,

Registered Member MBACP Accred. (No. 599444)


Registered Accredited Counsellor BACP

A British counsellor/psychotherapist born and educated in the UK I moved to Japan in 2009 and opened English Counselling Kansai where I have had my current premises in Kobe since 2011. I work with all ages and am currently prioritising work with families, children/adolescents and couples but also work with individuals especially those needing my specialisms. When working with families or children/adolescents I primarily use a systemic model which takes into account the inter-relationships of all members and their different contexts and includes solution-focussed, narrative and play therapy approaches which help families to collaborate to create new solutions to old problems. With couples I also use my training in Emotionally Focussed Couples Therapy (EFT) a highly regarded evidence-based model which helps couples to meet each other’s needs through understanding of the science of attachment. Originally trained in a psychodynamic (relational-based) model of individual therapy I also draw on trauma approaches, CBT and mindfulness but fundamentally I am grounded in connecting with each client and adapting my approach to what is important for them, as well as having awareness of the massive impact of social realities. I specialise in working with sexuality and gender identity as well as other forms of diversity and intersectionality, and see a wide range of issues, among them depression, anxiety, identity issues, social anxiety, cross-cultural issues, career/life choices, childhood and later trauma, parenting, eating disorders, self-harm and all forms of relational difficulties. I am currently undertaking further study at the Institute of Family Therapy in London.

Qualifications and Experience

I am an accredited member of the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) and registered on the BACP Register, a statutory register under the UK Health and Care Professions Council and a member of the UK Association of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice (AFT). I am also a clinical member of International Mental Health Professionals Japan (IMHPJ) and a member of IMHPJ's Board of Directors. I work within the ethical frameworks/guidelines and annual re-accreditation requirements of all these organisations.

I qualified as a psychotherapist/counsellor for adults in the UK (Dip Couns, Braintree College, BACP accredited in 2009), based on a grounding in a range of methods (psychodynamic, person-centred, CBT) followed by in depth study and supervised practice in a relational psychodynamic and attachment model. Since then I have undertaken further training to work with children and families (including play therapy and systemic family therapy) and to deepen my skills in a wide range of areas, such as studying how current neuroscience can be applied in psychotherapy and counselling, particularly with regards to trauma and memory, and deepening my knowledge of inter-cultural issues in counselling and couples counselling. In reecent years I have undertaken training in ACT, experiential psychotherapy (also known as Hakomi), mindfulness methods, Internal Family Systems therapy and especially Emotion Focussed Therapy with Couples (EFT). Currently I am undertaking ongoing further study in Systemic Family Therapy at the Institute of Family Therapy in London.

UK experience:
Alongside counselling in private practice with clients from all kinds of backgrounds suffering from depression, anxiety, life problems, relationship difficulties and so on, I worked for charities (NPOs) in the UK for nearly 10 years, primarily in child and family work and organisations offering therapy and other services for adult and child survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence and child abuse. In central London I worked extensively with refugees and migrants from all over the world, specialising in bi-cultural children and teenagers and supporting disadvantaged families to find solutions to child protection and other issues avoiding the need for social services intervention. I also worked to improve public and voluntary services as the representative of the voluntary sector on Westminster's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) steering board, inspired and organised a voluntary-statutory conference on child mental health ('Mind the Gap') and worked on the development of an open-access young people's counselling service in Westminster. In my then home town in Colchester I was a counsellor, trainer and director of the award-winning small charity CARA (Colchester Action on Rape and Abuse www.cara.org.uk), which I was involved with for 7 years.

Recently I have been back in the UK temporarily for further study at the Institute of Family Therapy and have been practicing in a family therapy team in an NHS child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS)

Japan experience:
I have been working mainly in private practice with individuals, couples and children since 2009, moving to my current premises in Kobe in 2011 where I have a busy practice. As well as mostly private individuals, I receive referrals from international schools and voluntary organisations (especially those working with migrants, domestic violence, and gender identity and sexuality). More recently I have been employed as a School Counsellor at Osaka YMCA International School and done temporary work for other schools. I established the Japan School Counsellors Network, and am on the Board of Directors of International Mental health Professionals Japan (IMHPJ) and involved with the Japan Association of Family Therapy.
Outside of counselling I occasionally work in translation, publishing, and teaching.


While I still draw on all my former training, particularly relational and attachment approaches, I am currently focussing on systemic therapy, which means taking into account the meaning of all family or other relationships as they impact on each other and pays special attention to contexts including the impact of culture, socio-economic structures and so on. Systemic therapy combines a number of approaches including narrative, solution focussed, attachment and structural models.

Currently I am prioritising new referrals for children, families and couples but still work with individuals especially those needing my specialisms.

I have specialised in working with gender identity and sexuality since long before this became widely discussed and for a long time was the only western therapist in Japan specialising in LGBTQIA+ issues. Questions of diversity, intersectionality and power are particularly important to me and I aim to both have as much background understanding as I can and know that only the person concerned can explain their experience of these issues. .

I specialise in systemic, relational and attachment-related therapy bringing in other techniques as required. However my philosophy is that there is no perfect one-size-fits-all therapy (whatever proponents of particular models may say) what is important is being able to recognise the needs of this particular client at this time and respond with the best possible therapeutic model for that person, adapting it in response to the situation (this approach is also underpinned by current research on what works). Play therapy (using sandtray, art, etc) is used to work with children in a non-threatening way within their experiential frame, and can also be helpful with adults to help access more unconscious processes without the need for verbal explanation.

Cultural adjustment (in both directions) and international couple and family relationships relationships have been a specialism even before leaving the UK. Over 13 years in Japan I have become extremely familiar with patterns of relationships and common problems and solutions between western and Japanese families and third culture or international families. In this time I have adapted my couple and family work considerably to fit the cultural context here in communication with both western and Japanese therapists. Fortunately my personal familiarity and respect for western and Japanese life and Japanese language ability enables me to have good understanding of both sides and I consciously aim to be aware of and deal with possible bias or power dynamics involved with intercultural couples and families.

I have developed particular expertise with working with the traumatic effects of abuse, violence and difficult childhood circumstances, relationship difficulties, family/child-related issues, domestic violence, and issues related to sexuality, as well as cultural differences and issues linked to migration and bi-cultural families. I also have an interest not only in helping people navigate through immediate crises or severe issues but enabling people who feel stuck or frustrated to develop the full potential of their lives.

I am fairly fluent in Japanese (spoken and written) but do not actively offer counselling in Japanese as I believe that the level of understanding of nuances and ability to reflect internally while communicating with ease is difficult to achieve for second language speakers. However, where Japanese language is required in addition to English (for example to communicate with bilingual couples or bi-cultural families) I am happy to do my best.

Please see Counselling Approach, Therapeutic Play, and FAQs for more details of how I work and my specialities.



Home Background & Qualifications Counselling Children, Parents & Families Info for Organisations Other Resources Contact, Access & Prices 日本語
Please contact me if you have further questions or wish to arrange an initial meeting


Telephone no: 0081-(0)78 453 1030
email: englishcounselling@gmail.com