Macrobiotic Counseling: Issues and Concerns
Macrobiotic Counseling is a relatively new service that began as very informal private meetings between individuals and George Ohsawa or with Michio Kushi in the 60s and early 70s. It was just a private one on one meeting where individuals asked a variety of questions of their teacher. Questions ranged from health concerns, relationship issues, personal life decisions and so on. These meetings were free with only a suggested donation. Michio used these meetings to develop not only his visual diagnostic skills but also his uncanny intuitive abilities. As stories of remarkable recoveries spread and of his incredible abilities, more and more people sought his advice for health concerns and Michio and macrobiotics soon became known less as a philosophy and way of life and more as a diet therapy for incurable diseases.
Many of Michio’s students wished to learn to do what he did and Michio encouraged this. At this point, people began charging money for it and became dependent upon the income it generated, including Michio. Michio developed formalized procedures and students helped develop materials to supplement and enhance the counseling services. Later, the Kushi Institute was created develop macrobiotic teachers, cooks, shiatsu practitioners and counselors.
As the numbers of macrobiotic counselors grew attempts were made over the years by Michio and the Kushi Instittue to regulate the business and create standard procedures but all of them failed. Also, in the 1980s network multi-level marketing become popular and some counselors began to use macrobiotic counseling services to sell products and develop their network marketing business. Overtime, macrobiotic counseling services have diversified with some remaing true to Michio’s approach while others divurging and intentionally adopting other ways to distance themselves and create their own niche.
Without any oversight, macrobiotic counseling still remains an unregulated business that sometimes resembles the wild west with counselors aggresively competing with each other. The Kushi Institute only offers training but does not regulate counseling even among its own counselors. This allows for its present lead teacher/counselor to work there while admittedly diverging from Michio’s own tried and true proven ways.
With Michio at 84 and no longer offering counseling nor participating in educational activities then whatever hint of regularity in counseling generated by the standard of measure that he provided simply by virtue of his presence and leadership now no longer exists. There is no longer any possibility to regulate macrobiotic counseling through the Kushi Institute. It will have to be done through a third party association or entity that is independent of any individual counselor, if it is to be done at all. The future of the present type of macrobiotic counseling being offered today will depend on it, if it is to continue to exist at all. Otherwise, macrobiotic counseling will, I predict, revert back to its roots, and be offered as a free service and again reinvent itself, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Given this scenario, although Macrobiotic Counseling provides a much needed and essential service to the world and counselors have helped prolong the lives of many hundreds of thousands there are issues that hamper its growth, development and wide general acceptance by the masses and these are as follows:
1. No Public Forum For Clients To Provide Feedback On Their Counseling Experience
At present, there is no place for clients to offer legitimate complaints concerning their experience with a counselor. Such a process would naturally influence the marketplace and business of counseling and in its absence, counselors are able to continue to offer their services without any oversight or mechanism of checks and balances.
2. State Accrediation and Licensure or Offer Counseling For Free
At present there is no school, be it the Kushi Institute or others that are accredited by any state educational board. Some people may think this is a good thing and Michio himself has shied away from it. But the net result is that it makes for regulating and standardizing teh business of counseling more difficult. Again, some may think this is fine and even desireable, but the fact remains that the business of counseling relies on a trusting public and without any third party oversight and some type law enforcement, the public’s trust will never be at 100%. The only way to avoid licensure and otherwise gain the 100% of the public’s trust is to offer counseling for free and to make everything transparent upon request and permission from the client.
3. Inconsistent Macrobiotic Guidance
In keeping with macrobiotic principles, Michio is and was never interested in developing successors and encouraged his students to develop themselves on their own. This has resulted in the wide diversity of teachers and styles and approaches and this can be considered a good thing. However, when it comes down health guidance there is a need for consistency and the ongoing development of a collective public knowledgebase. Michio’s approach has not encouraged this to happen and the result is that most counselors do not work together and instead compete with each other.
In my opinion and from an scientific and intellectual point of view, this is the saddest thing that could happen. Whatever beneficial discoveries are made by any single counselor is lost among the competitive struggles. Likewise, whatever errors and mistakes that are made by one counselor go unnoticed and therefore gets repeated. In short, the state of affairs of Macrobiotic Counseling is such that while it may help some individuals, it is making zero progress in contributing to society at large. Therefore it remains, after 40 years, still as an “unproven” method in the medical literature and on websites.
In summary and in my opinion, if Macrobiotic Counseling is to develop at all from its present state then it needs to be actively contributing to society at large. To do this, an idependent third party regulatory body should be established where clients can submit legitimate complaints which will then, in turn, provide the mechanism for checks and balances in the marketplace. A shared knowledgebase that counselors can professionally contribute toward and work together to grow and develop should be created and offered for the general public and as part of the ongoing education and training of future counselors. Out of this, standardized procedures and policies can be ongoingly developed and made transparent with the ultimate goal of obtaining 100% of the public’s trust.
Without any of the above then, to establish the public’s full trust, Macrobiotic Counseling should revert back to it’s roots by being offered entirely for free and for donations only. This is a sure way to eliminate any profit motive and hidden agenda that might be overlooked in any complex business model.
Meanwhile, the business of Macrobiotic Counseling will continue in it’s limited way which is by word-of-mouth referral only as it does today. That being said then for those seeking a counseling experience that is more or less consistent with Michio’s approach in terms of both method and content can privately message me for names of counselors that I personally recommend.
As far as myself is concerned, I support both the larger vision of developing an independent association and cooperative effort of macrobiotic counselors who contribute to society at large as well as personally offering my own counseling services for free and donation only. We can never have too many assurances for trust, especially when it involves life and death situations.