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April 29, 2012

By Kelly Weld, Therapist

Being a counselor at an intervention program is a challenging and rewarding task. When students arrive they are lost and desperate, their families are in crisis, and it is our job to help re-align the system in a relatively short period of time. The process Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy Programfeels first like a roller-coaster (with intense highs and lows) and then a waltz (three steps forward, one step back).  Our program incorporates a beautiful balance of emotional intensity (via impact letters, difficult leadership roles, peer feedback groups) and personal tranquility (via living and working in the gardens, participating in relaxation and meditation groups, taking care of our bodies through yoga and nutrition, etc).  And through that balance, a shift occurs…which makes my job gratifying beyond words.

I recently graduated a young woman who came to PQ kicking and screaming.  She tried everything to avoid the process, and wanted only to retrieve her too-stuffed suitcase (she arrived with five separate purses!!!) and go back to her comfortable, though unhappy, life.  When she realized that she was not leaving, that her parents were not rescuing her, she finally surrendered…and the dance began.  A week before she left, she wrote the following letter to future PQ students which beautifully articulates why I keep coming back for more.

“I am writing this to the people struggling at Pacific Quest. I am writing this because I wish that someone would have written this to me. No matter who you are, or where you come from, it’s hard to be out of your comfort zone. Pacific Quest, from my perspective, is way out of any teenager or young adults’ comfort zone. You might have been lied to in order to get here, you might have been told you were going on a short vacation, you may have gotten woken up in the middle of the night by transporters, you may not have gotten any forewarning at all. The truth is hard to hear. You are here now and no matter how badly you freak out, how hard you cry, or how sick you pretend to be, therePacific Quest Wilderness Therapy Program is nothing you can do about it. You also need to realize its okay to freak out and cry. It’s normal. It’s almost expected. Just know your first and hardest job is to get past it! You have to accept it, embrace it, and know from that day forward, your life will be a lot more manageable. What helped me was thinking about the way I had been living my life. I realize now that if I had not come to Pacific Quest I very likely would not be alive right now. One of my favorite quotes from Pacific Quest is that “We are most likely to end up where we are headed, unless we change direction.” That quote applies perfectly to Pacific Quest and why we are here. We were sent here to change direction so we could end up in a better place. We were sent here because someone cared. We are here for ourselves. We are here to learn how to live again. Just know that anything is possible. Your stay here is not about length, or boarding school, or home. Your stay here is what you make of it. And to me, it’s worth it”.

Sincerely,
Past PQ Student

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