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May 6, 2019

Written by:

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

Written by:

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

Written by:

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

Written by:

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.”

February 26, 2019

Written by:

Clinical Spotlight- Camille Bourcier, MSW, LCSW

Camille is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist and behavioral specialist who received her Master’s Degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Mental and Behavioral Health from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. With over ten years experience working with adolescents, young adults, and families in outdoor, educational and therapeutic settings she brings a dynamic style, utilizing a strength-based approach.

Camille began her journey with Pacific Quest in 2011 as a guide for the Adolescent Program where she become passionate and skilled in horticultural therapy and our holistic approach. Camille’s hard work in the field propelled her into a supervisory role for both the Adolescent and Young Adult Programs, which eventually developed into her role of Staff Manager, for which she received a company excellence award.
In 2015, Camille pursued her Master’s Degree in Social Work, with the goal of returning to Pacific Quest as a therapist. Since that time she worked with military families facilitating individual, group and family psychotherapy, utilizing Parent-Child Interaction Therapy. She also worked with a local behavioral health organization where she supported young people with learning differences and emotional challenges in the development of improved esteem, study habits and communication skills. Camille has provided home-based wraparound for youth at-risk of school failure and has also spent a decade working with a non-profit foundation that makes it possible for youth from different backgrounds to enjoy the Sierra Nevada backcountry.

Building strong relationships with students, Camille provides a foundation to address challenging behaviors and interpersonal issues. With experience from field to management in the mental health field and family support services, Camille brings a confident, calm and deliberate approach to her work with students and families.

The use of Hawaiian culture, the integrative wellness approach and the focus on experiential learning through horticultural therapy are what originally drew Camille to Pacific Quest. Many of the activities that are incorporated into the PQ student program directly reflect Camille’s passion outside of work. In her free time, you will probably find Camille at the beach with friends, hiking to the closest waterfall, or practicing yoga with her sister.

Parent Testimonials: Camille was OUTSTANDING! The communication was outstanding at every level – goal setting, regularity, insightfulness, and helpfulness. Camille made such a difference in the life of our son.

PRIMARY THERAPIST
Camille Bourcier, MSW, LCSW
camille.bourcier@pacificquest.org

January 10, 2019

Written by:

Teresa Bertoncin earns highest level of EMDR certification!

Teresa Bertoncin was recently awarded EMDRIA (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing International Association) consultant status.  An EMDR consultant is recognized as an expert in the field.  It is no small feat to gain consultant status in EMDR.  In addition to being a Certified EMDR Therapist with six years of experience, Teresa conducted several hundred clinical sessions utilizing EMDR and received more than twenty hours of consultation from an approved consultant.

EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the rapid treatment of trauma. EMDR therapy aims to reduce subjective distress and strengthen adaptive cognitions related to the traumatic event.  EMDR is recommended by the World Health Organization, The American Psychiatric Association and the Department of Defense for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Additionally, EMDR has also been proven effective in treatment of panic attacks, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, disturbing memories, phobias, pain disorders, performance anxiety, stress reductions, addictions, abuse (physical, mental and psychological), body dysmorphic disorders and personality disorder.

Her extensive experience with EMDR allows Teresa to provide regular consultation support for her fellow Pacific Quest primary therapists who have completed an EMDR training program. In turn, the majority of the PQ clinical team is able to apply this powerful and effective treatment in the field. The Pacific Quest treatment team is a leader in outdoor behavioral health, and especially in trauma work with adolescents and young adults.

December 5, 2018

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Kalsched and Freedle present “Trauma and the Recovery of Lost Innocence”

Trauma can result in brokenness and lost innocence. Dr. Donald Kalsched, Jungian Analyst and author of Trauma and the Soul notes that innocence lies at the core of our sense of aliveness and spirituality. The recovery of innocence is an important and complex process that leads to renewed vitality and embodied living. Dr. Lorraine Freedle, PQ Clinical Director presented at the Sandplay Therapists of America (STA) national conference with Dr. Kalsched. Together they took the audience on a powerful journey of lost and recovered innocence featuring the sandplay process of a young man, “Howard” (pseudonym) from Pacific Quest.

In attendance were helping professionals from around the globe, including Theresa Hasting, PQ Clinical Supervisor and Hannah Mariotti, Boston-basedEducational Consultant. Theresa stated, “The presentation illuminated how sandplay and the Pacific Quest approach are used to help students access and reprocess past traumas, and also showed a real world application of Kalsched’s model.”

Hannah Mariotti stated, “I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Lorraine Freedle and the other inspiring sandplay therapists at the Transformation in Sandplay conference last week. Lorraine is a wise and compassionate guide in sandplay therapy. Being a part of this community has inspired me to begin my own process and to pursue sandplay therapy certification this winter!”

Mariotti continued, “One of the most powerful moments of the conference was watching Lorraine’s mentor and co-presenter, the legendary Dr. Donald Kalsched, as he wiped away tears, praising Lorraine’s skillful work with her deeply traumatized client. I returned from this experience with a deeper understanding of how, ‘the hands can solve the riddle that the mind cannot.’ Sandplay therapy resonates for me on a personal and professional level as it centers on the development of an authentic relationship. The clinician and client co-create a new, and ultimately healing narrative, which challenges the stories written by their protective yet destructive Self Care System as defined by Kalsched. My hope is renewed for clients who carry unexpressed trauma; and that as clinicians we can plant the seeds of growth and healing through sandplay. As clinicians we can encourage them to access their innocence, live in the reality of their painful feelings, and be present with them in their authentic suffering.”

November 28, 2018

Written by:

Clinical Spotlight: Mark Storey

With a passion for finding a student’s authentic self, Mark Storey brings dynamic long-term wilderness therapy experience to Pacific Quest. Since 2005 Mark has worked in outdoor behavioral health. Mark worked as lead field staff and as family program guide at a wilderness therapy program in the Blue Ridge Mountains . After completing his Master’s Degree he worked as the sole clinical therapist at a residential facility in Puerto Rico before finding his home at Pacific Quest.

In addition to his experiential family-focus work, Mark worked in both individual counseling and equestrian therapy. As a Seattle native, Mark earned his B.A. from the Comparative History of Ideas program at the University of Washington after completing his thesis in Creativity in Wilderness Therapy, and would go on to earn a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Washington State University.

Mark’s work pulls from more traditional styles such as CBT and Reality Therapy, while simultaneously incorporating newer models such as DBT, Sandplay Therapy, EMDR, and Positive Psychology. In issues related to communication, Mark teaches Cognitive Interpersonal Therapy (CIT), a type of therapy focused on empowering the individual to be accountable for the type of relationship they are creating. CIT focuses on building trust and understanding through reflective listening and assertive communication. CIT helps students re-consider themselves and their own value, while restoring the student’s own ability to establish healthy connections and build self-efficacy, motivation, and self-confidence.

Mark has a genuine curiosity that keeps him both amused and humbled. Staying true to his last name, Mark lives in a way that creates the best ‘Storey’ while living by his core values of compassion, gratitude, and exploration. When away from work Mark is excited to explore what this amazing land has to offer while working to develop a greater understanding and appreciation for Native Hawaiian culture.

Parent Testimonials:

Mark Storey is a Jedi Knight, a rock star and an intuitive genius all in one. Truly a gifted therapist and offered a wonderful platform for our child to grow. Thank you.

We love Mark Storey!! From the very beginning, we felt Mark understood Jesse and Jesse felt understood by him. He was both incredibly supportive and very direct and effective in his interventions and communication. And he’s been very responsive in (our son’s) transition to his new school.