On of our Medical Partners, Taiken Jo, Director and head acupuncturist at Acura Acupuncture Clinic, the leader of acupuncture infertility treatment in Japan, has just recently launched a peer support group called TTC -Trying to Conceive. Seeing that there has never been an infertility support group in Japan I was interested in finding out just what the group aims to do and why. The other day Taiken took a moment to sit down and talk to me about it in detail:
Q: Thank you for meeting with me. So I am going to get right into it if that’s O.K.?
A: Thank you as well and of course, let’s begin.
Q: So I know that you just recently started a peer support group called TTC – Trying to Conceive. Can you tell me a little more about it and why you decided to start such a support group? Why not another acupuncture clinic?
A: That is a good question. I have been treating infertility patients from around the world for over ten years now and I was always dismayed at the lack of support my foreign patients, in particular, had when going through the long and sometimes dehumanizing process. Everyone just seemed to be going through the infertility process alone. Many would seek the knowledge through overseas consultations and obtain strength and comradery through distant friends and relatives. I was so disheartened by this that I decided to create an infertility support group in Japan, TTC, so that my patients and the many others going through infertility could find -in Tokyo- information, support, friendship and possibly even help others by just telling their story.
Q: So why make it online and a meetup? Why not just start a Facebook group?
A: Real healing often happens with a touch, a smile and a friendly hug. I think that many people who are suffering with infertility would benefit greatly from not only participating online but in person. Still, many people have busy jobs and lives so having a thriving online community is also really important.
Q: I completely agree. When I am down and low I always feel better when someone is there to “hold my hand” and it is hard for a foreigner in a foreign land to find someone who is willing to do that. Perhaps you could go into what the benefits of TTC are to potential members and the foreign community at large?
A: Until the creation of TTC the English Helpline was one of the only free and easy to access English speaking support groups available to the non-Japanese speaking community of Japan. TTC aims to change that in two ways: The first is by gathering professionals to dispel disinformation on the website and support the members. There is a lot of wrong and unsupported information out there about infertility. Having local, English speaking professionals to work with the group are key to helping people who are trying to make hard decision about their care. The second is we believe that there is no greater teacher than experience so the main thing TTC aims to do is to have the people who are actually going through, or have already experienced, infertility at any level to come together to support, educate and guide one another.
Q: You’re right. The community of English speaking support in Japan is almost nonexistent. Still, not everybody lives in Tokyo. Will members have to commute to Tokyo to attend meetings?
A: Unfortunately, in the beginning, yes. But we aim to grow the group – through meetup.com and our website so that members in other prefectures will be able to hold their own groups outside of Tokyo in the near future.
Q: That’s a big goal but an important one. So you have given a lot of reason why people should join TTC but could you elaborate a bit more about the benefits and how to join?
A: Of course. TTC, like I said before, aims to give support, friendship and information to people going through infertility. We aim to fill the role Resolve.org has filled in the U.S. Our site offers a message board, blog, informational articles and a directory that lists English speaking, infertility related companies in Japan and abroad.
Joining is easy. You can go to our website and click on the link “Join Us” or you can join us through our meet-up page.
Our first meeting is scheduled for next month on September 3 at 11 am. We will be meeting in Shibuya.
Q: Well thank you so much for speaking with me today. It sounds like infertility support group TTC is really going to fill a void in the non-Japanese speaking community here in Japan.
A: Thank you as well.