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August 12, 2019

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Hiking in the Ka’u Desert

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.

August 5, 2019

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Sustainable Growth! A must read alumna testimony!

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.

With love and gratitude, 26 year old female alum

June 18, 2019

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Clinical Spotlight: Mark White, LMHC, MAC

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 Pacific Quest. 


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.

Parent Testimonials

“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 him.”

“Mark has been excellent! His communication has been wonderful.”

May 28, 2019

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CLINICAL SPOTLIGHT: THERESA HASTING, LMHC, SP

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.

Parent Testimonials:

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.

Theresa is the best!

May 6, 2019

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I Found My Own Superpower

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.

May 6, 2019

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Praise From a Parent

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.

April 25, 2019

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Clinical Spotlight: Dr. Brian Konik, Ph.D.

Prior to joining the clinical team at Pacific Quest, Dr. Konik worked as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Annapolis, Maryland. For 10 years at Spectrum Behavioral Health, he treated adolescents and young adults with issues ranging from anxiety, depression, trauma, and substance use/abuse, to learning differences, significant behavioral problems, and developmental disabilities. Dr. Konik also has extensive training in and experience with parent/child interaction therapy, parent training, and family group counseling, as well as specialized training in suicide/crisis intervention. While in Annapolis, he served regularly as a contracted behavioral specialist with the local public school system and as a consultant with private, independent day schools, conferring with teachers and administrators on issues experienced by his clients, their families, and educators.

Brian has had enriching experiences at outdoor/experiential educational positions in the past and is enthusiastic about transitioning back to this type of lifestyle with his young family. His education, training, and experience allow him to provide a variety of new and complementary services to Pacific Quest’s dynamic wilderness therapy program.

Parent Testimonials:

PQ was such a wonderful experience for our daughter. She did not want to leave!! Throughout her stay, we learned so much from Dr. Konik. His insightfulness, expertise, and compassion were so helpful. PQ gave our daughter the foundation to start to build a new future and we couldn’t have asked for anything more.

We are most grateful to the careful attention we think our daughter received and for Dr. Brian Konik’s work with our daughter and with us. Thank you so much!

April 25, 2019

Written by:

Clinical Spotlight- Kristen McFee, MA, LPCC

Kristen has served youth who have experienced concerns related to anxiety, depression, trauma/abuse, eating disorders, substance abuse/dependence, grief and loss and parent/child relationship difficulty. She considers vulnerability as a foundation for trust and teaching healthy communication patterns essential for working with families. Kristen implements an insight-oriented and strengths-based approach.

Kristen encourages meaningful change and healing through her compassion, a calm presence and attunement with others. She believes that everyone deserves unconditional positive regard. She utilizes a variety of evidence-based approaches such as Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Kristen has been trained in EMDR, the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, Sandplay therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Trauma Focused CBT.

Parent Testimonials:

We have worked with a TON of therapists and Kristen McFee is an absolute Rock Star!

Kristen’s availability and responsiveness were a HUGE plus for us parents. She was incredibly effective with our son and we are so thankful.

March 18, 2019

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Clinical Spotlight: Andrea Sussel, MSS, LCSW

Andrea is a licensed clinical social worker with a wealth of experience; she has been a therapist at Pacific Quest since 2015.  Andrea received her BS in Health and Physical Education from the Pennsylvania State University and her Masters of Social Services from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. She is a certified Gestalt Therapist from the PA Gestalt Center and has co-facilitated workshops at The Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA. Andrea has completed Level I and II EMDR training and is currently working toward her certification in Sandplay Therapy.

Andrea has extensive experience treating students and their families who are struggling with a range of mental health issues including depression and anxiety, gender dysphoria, sexual orientation, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, autism spectrum, and bipolar disorder.  Additionally, she enjoys working with general difficulties within relationships, including those within the complexity of the family system. She also has experience and success working with young people who struggle with self-harming, suicidal behaviors, and personality disorders.

Andrea worked as a psychotherapist for 8 years at a liberal arts college on the Main Line of Philadelphia where she founded The Body Image Coalition and led the initiatives to impact a culture shift at the college regarding disordered attitudes about body image and our dieting obsessed culture. Prior to that she worked as the eating disorder specialist on a DBT team and in inpatient and outpatient settings treating individuals with eating disorders, including those on a specialized dual diagnosis unit for LGBTQ people. Just prior to moving to Hawai’i, Andrea maintained a private practice for 10 years.

Andrea has been spending time on the Island of Hawai’i for the last three decades and draws upon her connection to the land and culture to promote healing. She brings a compassionate and relational approach to her work, along with her strong belief that each person has an innate ability to heal when given the proper “soil.” She values patience and listens deeply to others as they access their inner wisdom and voice. Andrea’s use of bibliotherapy, poetry, music, humor and the life force of creativity to meet her students where they are, while creating a safe space for them to open at their own pace is what makes her approach gentle, effective and ultimately sustainable.  Andrea was drawn to Pacific Quest because, as she expressed, “I feel incredibly synchronistic with all the essential practices that are promoted and I believe PQ has illuminated the core elements of a healthy life for all people.”

In her spare time Andrea enjoys hiking, swimming, paddle boarding, yoga, and silent meditation retreats. She also teaches at the Insight Volcano Vipassana meditation group, volunteers in the ancient forest at Niaulani Art Center, and worked as a Red Cross volunteer in the recent Volcano relief efforts. She was featured in the recent documentary, Fire and Sand, winner of the 2019 Santa Fe Humanitarian Award. She experiences great joy in her 28 year old son who is currently working in the field of recovery in Kona and is teaching English online to Chinese students.

Parent Testimonials:

Our therapist, Andrea, was outstanding and had a wonderful connection with our daughter.

Every part of our work with Andrea was super.

Andrea did so much for our son and our family. We are incredibly pleased. She is absolutely amazing- actually beyond amazing!

March 1, 2019

Written by:

Michael McGee- Certified Substance Abuse Counselor

Pacific Quest is proud to announce that Michael McGee, Family Program Manager and Clinical Support Specialist, has received the Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) accreditation from the state of Hawaii.  This is an internationally recognized credential and will allow Mike to further support Pacific Quest clients.

In addition to his work leading our adolescent Family Program workshops, Mike has been meeting with clients in our young adult program that have demonstrated a need for recovery coaching.  Mike utilizes a unique blend of motivational interviewing, psychoeducation, and personal experience to work with individuals with histories of substance use, addictive patterns, and compulsive behaviors.  Mike states, “My goal is always to meet people where they are at, help them create a model of recovery that works for them, and help plan a strategy that will make their recovery goals a reality.  I’m really looking forward to gaining more experience in this area and excited to assist our students on their individual journeys.”