John Souza, DMFT, and Mike Sullivan, LMHC recently presented at the Young Adult Transition Association (YATA) conference in Coeur d’Alene Idaho, speaking to the “Myth of Independence” within emerging adulthood and the need for relationship. After dispelling the common perception that young adults (and the rest of humankind really) are independent entities, and highlighting some of the shame and sense of failure that many emerging adults feel when they remain in-dependence with others, Dr. Souza focused on teaching attunement skills and empathy tools within a corrective relational experience. Dr. Souza and Mr. Sullivan identified strategies that Pacific Quest employs to create such experiences for emerging adults and their families.
The presentation was among many thought-provoking breakout sessions at the YATA conference, all focused on the challenges posing todays emerging adults, ages 18-29. Keynoting the event, Dr. Jeffery Arnett, set a positive tone for the conference. Despite the significant obstacles many emerging adults face today, Dr. Arnett’s research suggests a very high level of optimism. This was very welcome news, albeit, contrary to what many in the audience experience on a regular basis. Most conference attendees focus their careers on providing emerging adults with therapeutic services, helping them navigate the multitude of problems they are experiencing in their lives. The YATA conference continues to stimulate powerful conversations regarding the changing landscape for emerging adults.
“Transformative and life-saving are just two of the many positive adjectives that describe our family’s experience with PQ. If your child is in need, and you are fortunate enough to be able send your child, just do it. Theresa and Camille, just two of the many gifted and caring PQ therapists, support not just the child, but the family as well. Weekly calls help parents understand what their kid is experiencing, and the difficulties in the family dynamic that led them to PQ. PQ therapists then educate the family on how to change the dynamic – how to talk to, and listen to, your child. Moreover, the experienced individuals working daily with the kids are top notch – patient, kind and empathetic. The PQ parent on-site parent program is top notch. The individual and group sessions provide deep insight and understanding of your child’s behavior and causes of that behavior. It’s an incredibly difficult journey, but at PQ you are not alone. I cannot say this enough times – if you are in need of a program, look no further, just send your child to PQ.”
Last week I was contacted by PQ to check in with my family; it has been about six months since my son finished the program. They asked if I had news or photos to share. I didn’t have any photos. I only saw him for a couple hours when I picked him up at the airport and drove him to the place where he would likely spend the next nine to twelve months of his life in a transition program. We had lunch and got him moved in to begin the next stage in his journey, and then I got back in my car for a very long, lonely drive back home. It hits me hard every now and then, confronting that I’ve only seen my son for a few hours over the last nine months, such as when someone asks for a recent photo…and I don’t have one.
At the PQ family program I attended last Spring, we were given a bean seed to take home. Well, I could just look at that bean every now and again to reflect on the program experience and learning, or I could put it to work. And as it turns out, it put me to work. So I got a little pot, some soil, planted the seed, and placed in on a south-facing windowsill where it reveled in the lengthening spring days. Around Mother’s day, when we finally got consistently above 50 degrees at night (I’m from Seattle…it takes a while spring to actually take hold in my part of the world), I moved it out to the garden–thinking of the exercise we did where we learned about transplanting. I carefully tended to the roots, and gently repacked the soil, and made sure it was well watered over the next few days (actually I didn’t have to do much external intervention in that department–did I mention I live in Seattle?), all the while thinking about my son and his recent transplant experience. I wasn’t quite sure what I would find when I picked him up at the airport, twelve weeks after I sent him to you. I know he had a bumpy time at PQ, but the person who emerged was like the kid I had once a long time ago–open, reflective, curious, not so defensive, and even a little optimistic. He had found a place, a tribe, acceptance. As we drove from to the new place, where he would start another, even longer program, he talked about feeling ok about himself–something he hadn’t felt in a long, long time. I had this rush of relief and euphoria, thinking that he had turned a corner, and that he was going to be ok.
Well, transitions can be difficult. Very difficult.
Everything progressed well for a couple weeks. Little Bean started to bloom. But one day some deer came through and ransacked my whole garden–tomato plants, raspberry buds, carrot tops, beets, leaves and buds on fruit trees…and Little Bean was taken down almost to the ground. I thought it was toast. But we had a two warm weeks afterwards, and it started to leaf out again. And then came June…also known as Junuary in Seattle. It got cold and rainy. Bean barely grew at all. But it was still alive.
Towards the end of June, it was just starting to get warm again, and Bean started growing. But then one morning I came out and… AGAIN. Chomped by deer. Just as it was starting to produce. Our dog has one job…ONE JOB—keep the deer away! Apparently he is no longer taking his job seriously. I didn’t have a picture before the attack, but Little Bean was bushy, about 1.5 feet tall, had blooms, and actual beans.
I started to realize that Little Bean’s struggles were another parallel process. So on June 24th, I started taking pictures of the deer-struction.
Summer arrived on July 5th (as it usually does). I had started growing pole beans on the trellises. Little Bean, it turns out, is a bush bean. This was a major contributor to its struggles as it couldn’t grow up out of the way of the deer. But Little Bean kept trying…until another deer attack, July 18th.
They denuded the pole beans of all the leaves along the trellis, but couldn’t reach those at the top.
So, as we approached the end of growing season, I realized (duh) my laissez-faire strategy wasn’t working. The dog was no longer effective as a deer-terrent and they weren’t getting full on the many other tasty treats in the garden. I had to try something different–Little Bean couldn’t grow indoors, but the out-of-doors wasn’t quite working out either. Enter the cloche. I use these to get tomatoes going early in the season. It finally dawned on me that I could deploy them against the deer.
With this protective covering, Little Bean grew a bit more, survived two more pillages, and on August 30th I harvested two small beans.
But then came the slugs: September 24
I deployed slug traps, put the cloche on at night and during rainy days, but here we are at the end of September, and realistically, I’m not going to be able to count on Little Bean to produce enough food to get us through the winter.
But there are a couple new blooms. Little Bean is still trying. September 29th:
Some takeaways– I need to improve the deer proofing of my garden. Little Bean was not the only casualty. Harvest was way down across all product lines. Next year, I’m enclosing the garden. The cloche did the trick for a while, but I deployed it too late in the season. However, Little Bean started getting too big for the cloche, so that solution wouldn’t have worked indefinitely. Then came the slug invasion. So the cloche couldn’t protect from all predation. I also realized that I need to plant the right kind of bean for my conditions. Pole beans do much better, not only in terms of surviving the deer, but they just get far more light in my garden configuration. If Little Bean hadn’t carried the additional burden of symbolizing much more and serving as proxy for the care I wanted to be giving my child, I would have given up and chocked it up to a poor plant choice and bad luck with the deer. But it was what you guys gave me, just as the universe gave me my particular kid. I kept at it, and looked for new strategies to help it survive. Another solid lesson is that it’s good I’m not a farmer and people don’t have to rely on me for their food supply. The small success story of the garden this year is the pole beans, which survived the repeated pillages and are now in full production mode. Here’s what I harvested today, and there’s still lots coming, even though the middle of the plants keep getting eaten.
The growing season is coming to an end, but fortunately, we humans can keep at it even during the winter months. Thank you PQ for all that you have done for our family…we are still growing though it hasn’t been easy. Thank you especially to Mark White who really stuck with my Little Bean.
Getting off the farm and out to explore the island is a big hit amongst PQ students. This past weekend, students of the young adult program travelled mauka to the Ka’u Desert, situated on flanks of Mauna Loa. The students enjoyed a great lunch, punctuated with views of the ocean, volcanoes, and indigenous plants and birds.
Three years ago I was known for running away from Pacific Quest on several occasions. Now I look back and see how far I’ve come.
I attended Pacific Quest at a very rough point in my life. I was suffering with several mental health issues as well as the aftermath of severe emotional trauma from childhood. I have anger issues, attitude issues, self and esteem issues.
Through the beautiful hearts and souls that comprise this program, from therapists to field staff, I healed from alot of early childhood issues, learned to love myself, developed coping mechanisms to cope with my mental health issues, and made meaningful connections that i never thought i could make. I also had a genetic test done that allowed me to find out the right type of medication I should be on.
Three years later, I left California and moved to North Carolina with my mom, where I have been pursuing horticulture and landscaping, with a deep passion of becoming a horticultural therapist down the line. I am a Certified Plant Professional through North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association.
I still struggle with mental health and emotional issues, however, with the continued coping skills learned from PQ put into action such as meditation, journaling, exercise, gardening, and well as my own continued pursuit of counseling outside of PQ, I’ve created a life that is truly worth living. I finally have healthy friendships and relationships that I enjoy and feel joyful most days regardless of the circumstance.
One of my favorite quotes is that “people will only meet you as deep as they’ve met themselves”. I definitely met myself in a meaningful and often painful way at PQ, which in the life changed me and made me grow for the better.
Thank you PQ. When things are rough, I think of all the loving hearts that have pushed me to be my very best self and help me recognize the potential for a better life.
In addition to his extensive clinical
background prior to his work at Pacific Quest, Mark served as Director of
Clinical Quality for an integrated healthcare agency. Mark also holds a masters
degree in School Counseling and has a breath of professional experience as a
teacher, school counselor and Head of School. Mark holds a deep sense of
learning styles, learning differences, and student engagement strategies to skillfully
help young adults effectively utilize their learning preferences to advance
their personal growth.
Mark is dedicated to supporting emerging young
adults in their recovery from behavioral health issues including anxiety,
depression, isolation, and problems related to substance use. Mark utilizes a
variety of therapeutic approaches that include a solution-focused framework,
Jungian depth psychology, ecopsychology and earth-based healing, rites of
passage, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). He has training in the Hakomi
method as well as EMDR, which he continues to develop as part of his practice.
Mark believes Pacific Quest combines
innovative best practices and evidence-based standards to a degree of quality
that is virtually unmatched. Mark is honored for the opportunity to promote and
facilitate change in the lives of clients and families accessing care at
Mark enjoys fishing, hunting, being on the
ocean, teaching, and growing food. When he’s not in the garden working with
students, he is exploring the beauty and dynamic landscape of Hawaii Island
along with his wife and daughter.
“Mark White was an extraordinary therapist for our family. He
guided all of us in a clear, caring manner and we will be forever grateful to
“Mark has been excellent! His communication has been wonderful.”
Theresa Hasting received her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from McMurry University in 2003 and earned her Masters of Arts degree in Family Psychology from Hardin Simmons University in 2005. She is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute.
Theresa has extensive training in trauma informed care; examining the impact that trauma and chronic stress has on a person’s neurochemistry, brain development, attachment style, cognitions and behaviors. She is a Trust Based Relational Intervention Educator and certified SandPlay Practitioner. Additionally, she has specialized training in Motivational Interviewing and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Additionally, Theresa has been a trainer/consultant for the Nurturing Parenting Programs® since 2011 and has facilitated Nurturing Parenting groups since 2008, utilizing individual, in home, and group parenting classes.
Prior to joining the Pacific Quest team, Theresa worked as a Clinical Director for a large adoption and children’s behavioral health agency. She developed training for staff and families on Trauma Informed Care topics, Nurturing Parenting®, and Trust Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI) principles. She also has experience as a clinician for adolescents and adults in psychiatric settings. Theresa has worked with youth and adults who have experienced physical and sexual abuse, attachment trauma, adjustment issues, depression, anxiety, emotional and behavioral dysregulation, substance abuse issues, psychosis, and interpersonal conflict. Theresa has presented at many state and national conferences. She is a member of the American Counseling Association (ACA).
Theresa’s passion is working with youth and families to facilitate healthy relationships. She has a strong belief in the need for holistic, whole-person oriented work that focuses on “re-setting” the mind and the body. Pacific Quest attracted Theresa because of its focus on these key aspects of treatment, which are often overlooked in other treatment settings.
Theresa has a diverse background and a keen sense of appreciation for other cultures. Having grown up in Prague, she has a love for international travel and hopes to share these experiences with her husband and daughter. Theresa enjoys cooking, photography, scuba diving, travel, and going on adventures in the Hawaiian islands.
Theresa is wonderful!. We cannot thank her enough for the work she did with all of us. She does amazing work.
Theresa was incredibly helpful. She was the perfect fit for our family and we enjoyed being challenged and pushed.
When I was sent to Pacific Quest, I had to really accept that there is no fairy tale ending. A handsome prince won’t come take me a away and solve all my problems. Being bullied into isolation left me with only books, video games, and TV. All were perfect examples of an ideal world where if you keep going for long enough, the time to stand up on the lunch table and roast the bullies will happen. All I needed to do was wait.
But there is no half-giant to tell me I’m a witch or talking cat to tell me I’m the moon princess reborn. I realized I needed to go through some intense treatment to actually find a reason to keep going through life. So, for the next two and half months, I worked hard to get a grip and continue a normal life. I was then sent to Solstice East to work even harder and dig even deeper.
I now know how to (realistically) stand up for myself, stay in the moment, and overall stay stronger than I’ve ever been. By learning regulation skills, social awareness, and all sorts of other things that would exceed the word limit, I learned to not wait for the magic white horse or closet that leads to an adventure. I found my own superpower which is my resilience, strength, humor, love, and empathy. Instead of looking for an unrealistic outside source for myself to fix my problems, I turn inward and stand strong for my opinions and my life.
Our son attended PQ from late 2017 through Spring of 2018. When we were first choosing a place for him we consulted with a specialist who was able to recommend several programs. As we did online research of the programs we noticed multiple conflicting reviews on the sites which hosted these reviews. It was a challenge to get a “proper” sense of the programs and which were good and which were just average. In the end we chose to ignore the mixed messages online and go with the strength of the recommendation for PQ which our advisor provided after having placed many young adults there. It is because of that experience that I write this review.
It is a hard decision to put your child in any program; certainly so with a wilderness program so far away from our home and with a unique agenda like PQ’s. Our son started the program in a poor state of mind – depressed, unmotivated and not looking to spend his time doing much other than sleeping. But through the unique benefits of wilderness therapy and the support systems in place at PQ he began to break his old habits and start to show progress towards retraining his outlook, ambitions and his day to day activities. It was a slow and steady progress with steps backwards along the way but we always felt reassured by the help he received from his PQ team. We were so impressed by his therapist Andrea and thus were keen to follow her lead and her advice and try to get our son back to a “regulated” state. She was a constant force in a dark time and we are forever grateful to her and the rest of the staff around her.
In the end our son embraced the PQ experience and used his new focus to begin a transition program which was geared to getting back into his college career. Our therapist at PQ was involved in the selection process and helped us to find a program which built upon the foundation established by his PQ experience. I know it is a very difficult and very individual situation when choosing a program for one’s child but we do feel our son gained much from his stay at PQ. I know all will not have the same experience but in the end we feel blessed with the way things turned out and are happy we entrusted our loved one to PQ.