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Clinical Work with Tsunami Survivors, The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake: Emergency Counseling in Rikuzentakata

February 9, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm PST

Dr. Sato headshot

AUS students, alumni, faculty, and staff are invited to join us for this presentation series by AUS PsyD and CMHC with art therapy alumna Dr. Ayko Sato.

Dr. Sato’s presentations, titled “Clinical Work with Tsunami Survivors: The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake” will describe her experiences as an American-educated, Japanese psychologist and art therapist, working with tsunami survivors in Rikuzentakata, Japan.

On February 8, 2018, she will present on a post-disaster art therapy project at the Zen temple for the tsunami survivors, creating 500 Rakans. On February 9, 2018, she will present on her clinical work as an emergency counselor in Rikuzentakata.

Dr. Sato was invited by the city government of Rikuzentakata, Japan to work as an emergency counselor. There, from 2012 to 2016, she provided counseling in the community for students, teachers, and parents who survived The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. She also provided counseling and consultation for adult survivors at a clinic in Rikuzentakata from 2013 to 2016. Dr. Sato lived in a temporary shelter with survivors for five years. She is likely the first psychologist to live and work with the survivors.

500 Rakans

As stated above, Dr. Sato’s presentation on February 8, 2018 will give information about her work, present art therapy case studies, and describe a post-disaster art therapy project at the Zen temple for the tsunami survivors. The 500 Rakans project, which took place from 2013 to 2017, was a call to make 500 stone sculptures, called 500 Rakans, or 500 disciples of Buddha. Creating 500 Rakans is one of the Japanese traditional cultural traditions for putting to rest the souls of victims after a natural disaster.

This project is the first time Rakans have been created by a group of many disaster survivors, rather than by one individual sculptor. Dr. Sato and her artist colleagues worked together with survivors on the project, during the summer holidays. Dr. Sato’s presentation will address the creative process, participants’ feedback and experiences, community involvement, as well as procedural and economic challenges, solutions, ethics, and managing volunteer participation.

Emergency Counseling in Rikuzentakata

Dr. Sato’s February 9, 2018 presentation will describe her clinical work as an emergency counselor in Rikuzentakata. Her presentation will cover community and environmental changes, case studies, cultural distress, and her research on alcohol use and abuse among survivors. Providing clinical services and living in a community of survivors brought unique challenges, and Dr. Sato will address the ethics involved in maintaining professional boundaries.

About Dr. Sato

Dr. Ayako Sato is a psychologist and art therapist. She was born in Yokohama, Japan. Her area of clinical specialization is in disaster mental health. She graduated from Tama Art University in MA in Tokyo, Japan. She received her MA degree in clinical mental health counseling with art therapy, and her PsyD in clinical psychology from Antioch University Seattle in 2011. She has also presented on her work to the American Psychological Association.


February 9, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm PST


Antioch University Seattle
2400 3rd Ave #200
Seattle, WA 98121 United States
(888) 268-4477

Antioch University and Otterbein University Announce Intention to Form First-of-Kind National University System.

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