What is Morita Therapy?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2020
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Morita therapy is a Japanese method of dealing with psychiatric problems developed by psychiatrist Shoma Morita during the early 1900s. Some of his inspirations for this method came from Zen Buddhism, and many of his ideas mirror the way Buddhism looks at the human condition. The basic idea is that people should learn to accept their inner state as being separate from their outward actions. Morita therapists hope that this separation will help patients to continue functioning normally regardless of their feelings. There is also a general acceptance of all kinds of feelings, both good and bad, as being a natural part of a person's existence rather than something that needs to be fought against.

Those who practice Morita therapy believe that people don't really have that much control over their emotions. They see emotions as a natural reaction to experiences in life, and the whole idea of trying to adjust emotions directly is considered unnatural. According to Morita therapy ideas, people are simply wasting their time when they try to control their emotions, and sometimes they might even be making problems worse.


Morita therapy practitioners believe that people are often much too focused on their inner lives to the exclusion of what is going on outwardly. For example, if someone is nervous about some kind of social experience, he may dwell on that and allow it to control his behavior. In fact, Morita therapy proponents believe that that inward focus can actually amplify the problem and lead to inaction, which can make everything worse.

Instead of constantly being contemplative, Morita therapy practitioners urge people to take an active role in their lives, regardless of how they feel inside. They believe that the very act of making progress in life is likely to help improve a person's inner feelings. Patients are taught to accept their emotions and continue making progress.

In the original version of Morita therapy, patients were generally treated on an inpatient basis. In fact, part of the therapy was a period of prolonged bed rest that was designed to help the person overcome the immediacy of his or her problems. Over time, the approach has changed, and patients are generally treated through weekly or daily therapy sessions. Patients will generally learn the basics of Morita therapy during these sessions, and the therapist will show strategies for applying the ideas on a day-to-day basis.


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