Shunsaku Noda

With Dr. Sharman at the International Congress of Vilnius, Lithuania, 2008

Shunsaku Jalsha Noda (1948-2020) was born in Osaka, Japan, graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of Osaka University and became a physician. After working for several years as an internist, he transitioned to become a psychiatrist. During his studies in psychotherapy, he read and deeply impressed by Bernard H. Shulman’s “Essays In Schizophrenia.” Upon discovering the underlying theory of Adlerian psychology in Shulman’s techniques, Noda went abroad in 1982 in order to study from Dr. Shulman. He learned Adlerian theory from Harold Mosak at the Alfred Adler Institute of Chicago, and simultaneously received regular supervision from Shulman at St. Joseph Hospital. This allowed Noda to fully incorporate Adlerian psychology into his clinical practice.

In 1982, I was at the Alfred Adler Institute of Chicago. There, in addition to the lectures at the institute, I was taking private classes with Dr. Bernard Shulman. The lectures at the institute were both systematic and well-designed, but to say honest, they did not go beyond what I had learned from books before coming to the U.S. In contrast, everything I learned from Dr. Shulman was all new and exciting. Moreover, I learned “living wisdom” by observing his treatment and supervision methods, rather than just learning from words.

However, there was one problem. Dr. Shulman did not charge me a fee for his supervision. He said, “You don’t have to pay me anything, just tell the Japanese people what I have taught you.” I did not realize it at the time, but in retrospect, it was expensive. If I were to repay him in money for the favor he had bestowed on me, it would be enough to settle the account. However, if I had to repay the Japanese people with deeds, it would take a lifetime. Thus, I had to repay my debt to Dr. Shulman by passing on Adlerian psychology to Japan.

Moreover, as a result, I have become obligated to always remain within the “orthodoxy” of Adlerian psychology. What I convey must be Adlerian psychology as I learned it from Dr. Shulman, not my theory. And since the students will understand what I teach as Adlerian psychology, I cannot arbitrarily mix my own original ideas into the content I teach. At the very least, I must make a clear distinction between what is my originality and what is the original Adlerian psychology. This is extremely restrictive for those who conduct education. But I have been doing my best to do so for the past ten years. There are some concepts that I have added, but in those cases, I have emphasized with clear awareness of what my added concepts are. This effort is not for the purpose of bragging about my originality, but for the purpose of distinguishing between orthodoxy and deviation.

(March 1992)

In order to fulfill his promise to Dr. Shulman, after initiating a small study group on Adlerian psychology in Japan in 1983, Shunsaku Jalsha Noda established the Adler Guild Co. Ltd. and the Japanese Society of Adlerian Psychology (JSAP) in 1984. Noda developed various courses of Adlerian psychology and authored several books, including “Alternative Way” (later “Talking Seminar of Adlerian Psychology” series). He developed parenting programs “Passage” and “Passage Plus”, which have become the standard guidelines for Adlerian-based parenting and education in Japan. Additionally, he invited renowned Adlerian teachers from overseas and introduced them to Japanese Adlerians. While serving as the president, leader, editor-in-chief, and secretary of the Japanese Society of Adlerian Psychology, Noda also conducted certification and research presentations at general meetings. As the Japanese Society of Adlerian Psychology became a general incorporated association in 2009, Noda gradually left the Society. However, Noda continued his energetic research, education, and dissemination activities until he became ill.


It can be said that Adlerian psychology in Japan, both academically and as a movement, started with Shunsaku Jalsha Noda. Noda organized everything he learned in Chicago into a theoretical system based on five basic assumptions: 1) subjectivity, 2) teleology, 3) holism, 4) social embeddedness, 5) fictionalism, and a philosophy based primarily on Gemeinschaftsgefühl, as well as psychological techniques such as lifestyle analysis. He developed courses like: “Basic Course of Application,” ”Basic Course of Theory,’ “Counselor Training Course,” and “Lectures and Practices,” Noda continued to convey orthodox Adlerian psychology. Throughout his lifetime, he spread Adlerian psychology to the general public and conducted educational activities to cultivate Adlerian psychology providers.


On the other hand, Noda made significant contributions to the academic and clinical development of Adlerian psychology in Japan by incorporating various clinical techniques while referencing contemporary psychological trends. His unique contributions in the theoretical domain include his comparative study of “Buddhism and psychology “(1990), “Absolute Holism” (2000), “Persona Theory” (2002), Cognitive Theory to Fictionalism(2004), and Structural Interpretation of Adlerian psychology(2013). Regarding the Adler’s philosophy, Noda continued to contemplate Adler’s thought within the larger western philosophical currents, and delved into it further until the end of his life.


Technically, Noda learned new techniques with each overseas study trip and promptly imparted them to others such as: the solution-focused therapeutic design and spiritual therapy (2006), and the lifestyle analysis based on the Zurich Sheet (2007). He developed a new counseling technique called “Episode Analysis” (2012) based on algorithms in Japanese. This “Episode Analysis” enables general learners in Japan studying in self-help groups to safely and mutually assist in problem-solving using the same method as a professionally trained counselor. Noda devoted his final years to refining this technique and verifying its efficacy.


Probably in 2011, I developed a method to analyze episodes starting from coping behaviors. In the five years since then, I am so happy to see so many people acquire and put this technique into practice that it brings tears to my eyes. I feel a sense of gratitude that I can repay the kindness of my mentors, including Dr. Bernard Shulman, by doing so.

(October 2016)

Towards the end of 2017, Noda’s health declined and in February of the following year, he was diagnosed with Malignant lymphoid tumor of the brain.

After being discharged from the hospital, he spent his final days peacefully at home until he passed away on December 3rd, 2020, on the anniversary of his late father.