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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

February 20, 2019

Written by:

Reflecting on 15 Years

Aloha Friends!

We are humbled and grateful to be celebrating Pacific Quest’s 15th year with you.  To honor our roots, we wanted to reflect on our story through the lens of our Stages of Growth – Nalu, Kuleana, and Ohana, and to speak to our own rite of passage.  We are proud to share where we have been, how we have found success, and aspects that continue to put us on the clinical frontier in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare.

Nalu: Reflection

The first stage of growth, Nalu, is perhaps the most powerful right now on this 15th anniversary. We look back to our humble beginnings; clearing one piece of choked land, a few students in a tent, a few dedicated and exhausted staff.   The particular steps were simple – clearing, tilling, sowing, and yet the vision was grand.  The goal was to create a safe and healing outdoor therapeutic program that encourages students to seek internal change through rites of passage. We quickly learned that caring for and honoring the land was our path. Students would heal the land and themselves simultaneously, and this would start the process of lasting transformation and connection to something greater.

Kuleana: Personal Responsibility

Kuleana is about recognizing one’s personal responsibility in the world, and anchoring positive and valuable tools.  An early lesson in our process of growth was that of flexibility.  Just as plants must not remain rigid in the wind, one of our core tenants is remaining flexible and adapting. From the transitions our students experience between the stages of growth to the physical moves and program shifts over the years, we know that this is key to success.  We thrive on being one of the most progressive programs of our kind, and we welcome challenges as opportunities for growth.  Adapting the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics and leading in Integrative Psychiatry and have been important steps, and even in year fifteen we continue to welcome change and we are thrilled for new chapters.

Ohana: Family

Ohana is what we are most grateful for along this journey.  We want to express gratitude for the families and professionals who have trusted Pacific Quest over the years, for the Pacific Quest family of staff, and importantly for the ohana of the island- the culture, history, people and the land of Hawaii Island.  We are humbled and strengthened by countless stories of struggle, transformation and success from our current and alumni students and families. We are thankful for the positive, caring staff over the years, and the challenging work they do. This island and its power continue to be awe-inspiring.

With our clinical prowess, our impeccable safety record, leading integrative psychiatric team and continued desire to evolve, we have developed into a leader in the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare field.  Throughout our fifteen years, PQ has sought to provide the best care in this field, and we will continue to strive to be an industry leader into the future. We are thankful for the support of each and every one who has had a hand in making Pacific Quest who we are today.

Mahalo Nui Loa,

Your PQ Ohana

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

Written by:

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.

November 28, 2018

Written by:

Self-Efficacy at Pacific Quest

Written by Mark Storey, MA, Primary Therapist

Central to working as a wilderness therapist is how to help to increase a student’s self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief in their own ability to achieve a goal. Based on their personal belief system, students will perform in certain ways. Increased self-efficacy can influence the level of goal challenge a student will set for themselves, as well as the amount of resilience they demonstrate in accomplishing their goals. Students with higher self-efficacy are more likely to take on difficult challenges, and demonstrate persistence in following through with those challenges. Reciprocally, lower self-efficacy will lower the aspirations with which an individual sets their goals. New experiences are framed as ‘threats’ instead of exciting challenges, and students will demonstrate reduced effort toward tasks if not shying away from them completely.

Below are four factors that influence self-efficacy and the way these factors are addressed at Pacific Quest.

1. Performance Accomplishment/Personal Mastery Experiences
Through scaffolded exercises with trained staff, students grow their ability to master challenges. These experiences come not only in the garden, but in other physical tasks of personal responsibility such as cooking and self-care, as well as through soft skills in intrapersonal and relational work. The final phase of Pacific Quest requires our students to demonstrate their mastery through mentorship. This process not only solidifies the skills they have gained, but increases the likelihood that they will take on difficult tasks after Pacific Quest.

2. Vicarious Experiences
Accomplishment is contagious, and it grows right in front of you! Our students live in a garden that physically represents the growth and achievement of the work of themselves and their peers, many of whom came before them. As our students see their peers working they can’t help but notice their beautiful and delicious product in the gardens, as well as the emotional growth in the group. When other students of a similar age with similar distress perform meaningful work on their issues, they directly influence each other’s belief about how they can handle their own distress.

3. Verbal Persuasion
Through emotional safety, students offer each other care and support. As we work to reduce student anxiety their responses shift from reactive to responsive, becoming flexible in their ability to respond to each other. Small supportive communities offer insight and hope to students looking to alter the direction their life has taken them. By rooting for each other, they make a practice of kindness, which increases positive outcomes for the whole community.

4. Physiological states
A student’s physiological state can influence their ability to accomplish a task. Our wellness department works with each student to try to determine which natural supplements will work best to reduce anxiety, increase restful sleep, improve digestion, support substance abuse detoxification, and take on other symptoms of distress. During Integrated Psychiatric appointments our naturopathic doctor works with an on site psychiatrist to determine the most helpful combination of natural and pharmaceutical intervention. PQ students also eat a low sugar free anti-inflammatory diet, some of which they grow themselves. All of this combined with yoga, meditation, and daily exercise helps to keep our students well regulated.

November 23, 2018

Written by:

Makahiki, an Ancient Hawaiian Celebration

Makahiki is a holiday season that punctuated the yearly farming cycle in ancient Hawaii. Makahiki was a time of rest and renewal in preparation for the next growing season. Makahiki is similar in timing and purpose to Thanksgiving, Octoberfest, and other harvest celebrations.

This week at Pacific Quest, students have been learning about Makahiki and focusing on how to incorporate gratitude as a daily practice. The camps seem to be overflowing with peace, gratitude, and abundance. There is excitement in the air as students create elaborate centerpieces, natural bouquets, and rustic table settings to adorn the exquisite feast. 

Students and staff contributed to chopping and cooking a festive feast. Students, program guides, field managers, clinicians, wellness and logistic teams joined together together at our base to enjoy a spread of fall favorites, including turkey, pork, seasoned tofu, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, salad, carrots, and yams.  Additionally, the young adult ohana decide to perform a Passion Show with performances of songs, dances, and talents. There was fun lawn games, improv games, and lots of jokes and laughter throughout the feast. Students reported, “It’s nice to take a break from deep therapeutic work and come together to have some fun and good food.” Additionally, they shared gratitude:  “Grateful for the opportunities in life to grow,” “Peace,” and, “The abundance of the land.” One student shared with his peers that, “It’s hard to be away from home for thanksgiving. But it is also really nice to celebrate Makahiki with my PQ Family.” There were many smiles, laughs, and fully bellies at the Makahiki celebration at Pacific Quest. 

November 19, 2018

Written by:

Pacific Quest Gave Me a Place to Process my Grief

Here is a testimonial written by a student, reflecting on her 1 year anniversary since graduating from Pacific Quest.

Pacific Quest was hands down one of the most pivotal experiences of my life. I entered PQ as a scared teen who was neck deep in avoidance and believed the prospect of long term recovery to be impossible. And I left still very scared, but willing to enter the next stage of my life with an open mind and heart. That change occurred because in a few months, PQ had allowed me to work hard at overcoming trauma, mending and creating relationships, starting to feel happy again, and becoming as prepared as possible for my next step.

When I arrived at PQ, I had been in and out of treatment for the past few years and believed that the cycle wouldn’t come to a close any time soon. That belief didn’t falter right away either. At first, I spent my days writing countless letters and lists of why I should leave, expressing those opinions to anyone who would listen, resorting to self destructive behaviors, and counting the number of days I could stand to stay at PQ. I specifically remember telling myself, “I’ll be long gone by Halloween.” At the time, Halloween was almost two months away and I was determined to, through persuasion and continuation of negative behaviors, be sent to another program before then.

That prediction proved to be very wrong. My halloween was spent at PQ, in Huli Ka’e (a really amazing rite of passage) enjoying hanging out with other students and guides and celebrating the holiday in our own way.

What changed? The most apparent change that comes to mind took place on September 9th. I hadn’t been at PQ long at that point and woke up that day maintaining the belief that I did not belong there. Sure, PQ had helped others, but I thought I was different. In my mind, everyone that believed it would help me was wrong. I was the only one who knew what was best. But around lunch time that day, one of the supervisors came to talk to me and ended up changing my perspective forever. I hadn’t eaten much for a while, and was set on not eating my lunch. But that supervisor sat down with me and we talked. Mostly about rock climbing, which we shared a mutual love for, though she also was very honest with me about the negative behaviors that I was doing, and what would happen if I keep doing them. Through that conversation, she somehow she got me to eat a bite of my meal, and another, and another, until I had eaten half of it! That may not seem like a big deal, but to me it was monumental. She aided me in breaking down a wall of disordered eating that had developed through years of fortification.

After that meal, my mindset changed. My choices started to become clear. For the past few years I had believed that once I became reliant upon a self destructive behavior, it was out of my control. But I realized on September 9th that that was far from the case. My urges neither control me or comprise who I am. I do. That day, I decided to give PQ a chance. And that willingness carried me through the next through months and allowed me to, in time, have a lot of faith in the help of PQ and the people there.

Pacific Quest was a necessary whirlwind of emotions. At times, I felt a deeper sadness and anger than I had ever experienced. But I am so, so incredibly grateful that I had a place to feel those emotions. When I was 12, I lost someone really close to me. And after years of halfheartedly attempting to process that loss, PQ gave me a place to dive into it. Before long, sand play therapy, ripping out weeds, and a long term project of transplanting a tree became a few of my go to ways of letting out my emotions. And it really, really worked. However, another huge factor in dealing with my emotions was talking with guides. Almost every day I would sit down with a guide, vent to them, and maybe pull out some weeds in the process. And I am forever grateful to all of those guides for listening to me.

Though there were some tough times, I also felt some of the most genuine feelings of happiness, peace, and freedom in years. Whether it was sitting around a fire and looking up at stars, going to the market, painting, playing bucket ball, graduating to another stage of the program, seeing my dad, going to the ocean, just sitting in my hale, or numerous other things, the happiness I often felt was inexplicable. One memory that sticks out is my first time playing bucket ball. Prior to PQ, I hated sports. But that day, I remember running across the grass with the biggest smile on my face, feeling surprised at the happiness I felt from not a movie or tv show, but from myself. I was just so happy to be outside, feeling comfortable in my body, not isolating myself but hanging out with others. Another thing that I gained a lot of peace from was gardening. Prior to PQ, gardening was just something that my grandma did and I had no interest in taking part in. But in those few months, I learned so much about various plants, from taro to sleepy grass (my personal favorite). I really grew to love some of my plants, and taking care of them grounded me. I even continued to garden at the next program I went to. PQ was by no means a walk in the park, but in those few months I experienced things from such a beautiful, close up perspective that I never really had before.

As I write this, today is my one year anniversary of leaving Pacific Quest. A year ago right now I was probably sitting in my hale impatient to leave, so grateful for the past few months, but feeling a confusing mix of excitement and fear for my next step. And right now, I’m sitting in study hall, slightly overwhelmed that I have a quiz in a few hours, but very, very happy. I regularly go to school and have a solid group of friends for the first time in my life. My relationship with my family and myself is pretty great. And I even have my first art exhibit in a few months! My life isn’t perfect by any means. I still have hard days, get occasional urges, feel mad at my dad, and so on. But things are better than I ever could’ve imagined. And I truly do not believe this change to be possible without the help of PQ.

November 13, 2018

Written by:

“I am the strongest and happiest I have ever been” -Alumna Testimonial

Before I went to PQ I was in the darkest and most desperate place I have ever known. I was having intrusive thoughts of suicide serval times every 10 minutes. I had lost all hope and given up. I felt like nothing was real, and that nothing truly mattered in this life anyways, so who cares? I was isolating, over sleeping, barely eating, and desperate for help.

I went to PQ and I was very reluctant when I first arrived. I had a lot of difficulty adjusting to the program initially, and decided I wanted to leave. Thankfully, the staff and students worked with me to make me feel more comfortable and learn to absolutely LOVE the program. I have met the most reliable, loving, vulnerable, funny, smart group of people through this program, who I know I will be friends with, and able to depend on for the rest of my life. I received the best therapy I have ever had, and I have been in therapy since age 9. I went into the program wanting to no longer have thoughts of killing myself, which I not only accomplished after just a few short weeks, but I came to see the root causes of the thoughts and worked my way through them as well.

Every second of the day at PQ has intention, and restores hope and purpose, although it can be very difficult to see in the moment. I started my PQ journey wanting nothing more than to leave, and by the time I was finishing up I couldn’t imagine my life outside of it, and tried to prolong my stay. I even tried transferring to staff.

Since graduating PQ, I am the strongest and happiest I have ever been. Although I must admit that I do occasionally have thoughts of wanting to disappear, I now have a community to reach out to, and tools to use to come out on top. I can’t rave about this program enough. I often think about how much I want to go back, but I now feel ready to handle whatever life throws in my path with joy.