We consider feelings to be so central to our actions in Western culture that we strive to change them, even when it is actually behavior that we're after.
Take the case of shyness. In one of America's most popular approaches, therapists first explore the negative messages a person gives himself in social encounters, then try substituting positive ones.
But the gap between thoughts or feelings and behaviors is sometimes difficult to bridge. The Japanese avert the difficulty altogether by using Morita therapy--a treatment quietly making inroads among the bashful on this side of the world as well.
Named for the late Japanese psychiatrist Shoma Morita, the therapy is based on the notion that all emotions are part of life. So it attempts to change behaviors instead. "Shyness is a universal human experience," explains psychologist F. Ishu Ishiyama, of the University of British Columbia.
When he recently treated a student too shy to approach girls, Ishiyama advised him to go head and approach them despite the anxiety. "I feel more self-confident when I accept that I am not a surefire person," the student reported afterward. "I'm confident, however, that I will get things done."