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August 2, 2018

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HIP Agriculture Receives Award from PQ Foundation

Pacific Quest Foundation helps to steward a healthy island community by contributing to existing 501(c)(3) organizations on Hawai’i. Over the years since our founding, Pacific Quest has developed relationships with over 60 local non-profit organizations through donations from our company, employees and clients. The PQ Foundation was created to continue this tradition of stewardship.

The Pacific Quest Foundation has recently awarded a grant to the HIP Agriculture High School Mentorship and Apprenticeship Program.  We had the opportunity to interview Dash Kuhr, the Executive Director and Lead Educator at HIP Agriculture to learn more about this incredible program and how they are influencing the Big Island community.

Can you tell me a little about HIP’s background info and how it got started?

We have two locations in Kapaau (northern part of the Big Island) the Halawa Campus which serves as  the headquarters of HIP Agriculture and includes staff housing, classroom, office, design studio, and library as well as student kitchen, outdoor showers, community stage and outdoor classroom.  We also have the ʻIole Garden, which is the main pacific-style agroforestry garden, where students have the opportunity to study a more traditional indigenous system of agriculture.

HIP was founded in Spring 2011 and has been growing since!  We now have a team of eight adults we can financially support and a seasonal 6 week internship program.  The foundation of our program is based on the 3 pillars:

Youth education

Farmer training

Community outreach

HIP Agriculture is “Committed to educating and empowering the next generation of young farmers, The Hawai’i Institute of Pacific Agriculture offers a variety of programs designed to engage Hawai’i’s youth in sustainable agriculture, land stewardship, and healthy lifestyles.”

What are some of the projects and programs HIP is currently working on?  How many students do you all work with?

We serve about 1,000 students, offering field trips, after school programs and in-class presentations. We work with Kohala elementary school, as well as middle school and high school students from Honokaa, Waimea, and Waikoloa.  For the elementary and middle school students, we bring workshops and activities to supplement their science curriculum – compost and micro-organisms, pollinators and beekeeping, nutrition and cooking from the garden, and native Hawaiian plants – identification and their uses.

Middle school students have classes on plant propagation, traditional lashing, seed saving and mycology.  High school students have classes in advanced plant propagation, ecosystem dynamics, advanced beekeeping and advanced mycology.

Our high school mentorship and apprenticeship program has 23 students.  The students assist in preparing and planting the fields, laying out irrigation, fertilizing and maintenance. They learn a variety of hands on skills – including compost, harvesting protocol, fertilizer management, soil testing, ph testing, soil work, observation, and recording notes and data.  We have an apprenticeship program over the summer which provides a paid educational stipend.

Future goals of HIP and how can people help?

Our goal is to create a hui network of farmers to supply food to the local cafeterias.  We are also honing our curriculum so this program can be utilized in other locations. In addition, we host volunteer days and always need help!  We will have the Kohala Aina Festival in October and special events including Farm to Table and Full Moon gatherings.

February 19, 2018

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Academic Coordinator Attends Learning and the Brain Conference

Pacific Quest’s Academic Coordinator Isabel Holmes was recently in San Francisco attending the Winter 2018 Learning and the Brain Conference.  This event brought together hundreds of researchers, educators, clinicians, and school leaders from across the globe to explore the latest neuroscience research on innovation and creativity in an interdisciplinary forum.

Isabel Holmes, Academic Coordinator

In sessions such as “Being Creative is a Choice”, “Visible Literacy in Learning”, and “The Middle Way: Finding the Balance Between Mindfulness and Mind Wandering for Creativity and Achievement”, Isabel was able to learn about new strategies to develop innovative and creative mindsets in staff and students and see evidence of the benefits of imagination, mindfulness, and mind wandering for memory, literacy, and achievement.

Of particular interest was researcher and professor Alison Gopnik’s opening keynote address, “When (and Why) Children are More Creative Than Adults”, which touched on a number of tenets from her recent book, The Gardener and the Carpenter–a framework for creative learning and exploration that translates particularly well to the gardens of Pacific Quest and has been much discussed amongst staff in recent months. Isabel was grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this exciting meeting of minds, and looks forward to sharing what she learned while continuing to learn alongside her PQ colleagues.

Isabel Holmes joined Pacific Quest in the fall of 2016 after graduating from Vanderbilt University with her M.Ed in Human Development Counseling. She worked as a Young Adult Program Guide for seven months before moving into the role of Academic Coordinator. Isabel dedicated her early career to helping a variety of populations get the most out of their educational journeys and brings a holistic understanding of behavioral health in academic environments to PQ.

As the Academic Coordinator, Isabel strives to creatively integrate the curriculum into our students’ daily process and envisions bringing the curriculum to life in the field through groups and experiential learning opportunities. She serves as an energetic liaison between internal departments and between PQ and external entities, and is invigorated by opportunities to drive staff development and training.

Learn more here about the Accredited Academic Program at Pacific Quest!

June 22, 2017

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Q & A with Academic Coordinator Isabel Holmes

Isabel joined the Pacific Quest team in 2016 after graduating from Vanderbilt University with her M.Ed in Human Development Counseling. She worked as a Young Adult Program Guide for seven months before moving into her current role as Academic Coordinator.  As the AC, Isabel strives to integrate the curriculum into our students’ daily process through groups and experiential learning opportunities.  This Q & A is an opportunity to learn more about Isabel and her valuable role at PQ!

Isabel Holmes, Academic Coordinator

What drew you to PQ?

I was drawn to Pacific Quest by the unique way our program combines mental health treatment, social-emotional learning, and experience of the outdoors. I was excited by the community approach to care, and have come to respect that even more during my time here. On a personal level, I thought that living on the Big Island and working at Pacific Quest would allow me to live and experience my own life in a radically different way, and that has absolutely proven true! My time here has challenged me in ways I didn’t previously know I could rise to meet, and has opened doors that I never knew existed.

What is your favorite part of PQ?

When I was working as a Program Guide, I used to joke that my favorite part of the job was sitting outside the luas at the end of the day, waiting for students to shower or complete their nightly routines. While it makes for an easy laugh, I meant it honestly, because it was in some of those moments, rolling around on a dirty floor in exhaustion verging on delirium, that I forged some of the best connections I ever had with students, whether through hilarious laughter over something completely silly or in a quiet moment of serious reflection on that day. I think what this really points to, and my real favorite part of PQ, is that the structure of our program gives us the opportunity to observe and help our students recognize and change their own patterns of behavior in a way that just doesn’t exist anywhere else.

What is your academic background?

My parents were both teachers, so I grew up in the world of academia. I attended Bryn Mawr College for undergrad, where I majored in English. I wasn’t the most motivated high school student, and it was at Bryn Mawr that I really found my own drive to learn and explore. I was able to take a wide variety of classes just because they interested me. After graduation, I ended up working at a boarding school outside of Boston, MA. The school environment was a comfortable one for me, and I had many opportunities to experience all the different things that make a school run. What I enjoyed most about that period of my life was my work with students in a residential community setting, and that led me to Vanderbilt, where I earned my M.Ed. in Human Development Counseling from the Peabody College of Education and Human Development. I completed my internships for my degree in a variety of school settings, gaining first-hand knowledge and experience in both counseling and academic program administration.

What about the PQ academic program is unique?

The PQ academic program is unique because it teaches our students to appreciate their environment, to appreciate their history, and to appreciate and care for themselves. Before they can be healthy learners, they must also be healthy people, and we provide access to a wide range of supports, structures, and skills to aid them in that quest, as well as opportunities to practice becoming both of those things.

What does Sustainable Growth mean to you?

In my eyes, sustainable growth means becoming the person you want to be slowly enough that it’s actually possible. We’ve all woken up on January 1st and named a litany of resolutions that we are going to enact to become a completely new version of ourselves right away. And we’ve all woken up on February or March 1st and bemoaned all the ways in which we are failing ourselves yet again, before waking up on August 1st and remembering nothing at all about any of it. These types of resolutions are often unsuccessful because they ask too much at once. A flower doesn’t bloom from a seed overnight, and humans are not capable of such rapid development, either. In order to really change, we must find our own rate of sustainable growth and incorporate new patterns and behaviors into our lives slowly.

How does Sustainable Growth tie into the PQ academic program?

Rather than seeking to completely change or “fix” a student during their short 8-12 week stay with us and consider them a finished product, the PQ curriculum teaches lifelong skills and concepts that students can take with them when they leave, to continue their process of sustainable growth over their entire lifetime.

May 16, 2017

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Queering Wilderness Therapy: Bringing Inclusion to the Forefront

By: Clementine Wilson, Adolescent Field Manager

**A note on the word Queer: “We recognize and honor that the word “queer” has been used in the past as a derogatory term and is still very hurtful for some in the LGBTQIA+ community. Many LGBTQIA+ organizations and communities have reclaimed the word “queer” and this has been both empowering and uniting of the multiple complex identities within the community…” (wording borrowed from the School of Lost Borders Queer Quest description)

I had the privilege of co-presenting and representing Pacific Quest at the Regional Wilderness Therapy Symposium in Asheville, NC last month. Myself, Martha Ratliff, and Samantha Field (collaborators from different organizations) presented a 3-hour workshop on the importance of LGBTQIA+ inclusion and support in the outdoor behavioral health industry. We had 20 participants attend our workshop including field guides, therapists, admissions counselors, educational consultants, and program management representatives.

Our workshop addressed the importance of catching up with Gen Z’ers as they pave the way for inclusion. Through lecture, self-reflection and short experiential activities, we illustrated what it means to build an inclusive and accessible program, asking the questions: Who is not being included? Whose voice is not being heard? Our main focus was field considerations, staff training and facilitating rites of passage ceremonies designed for queer youth and adults.

According to the J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group, in 2016, more than 52% of Gen Z’s (ages 13-20) reported they identify as something other than heterosexual. In the same study, 56% of Gen Z’s said that they knew someone who went by gender neutral pronouns such as “they,” “them,” or “ze.” At Pacific Quest, according to our surveys in conjunction with the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) taken during the student’s first week of treatment, approximately 28% of our student population (adolescent and young adult) identifies as something other than heterosexual. This number does not include those students who have yet to come out but may do so during the treatment process. In addition, we also serve many trans* identified and gender nonconforming students. With these stats, it is abundantly clear that a significant portion of our student population doesn’t fit into an assumed heterosexual/cisgender identity framework. Therefore, it is important for programs to make their curriculum inclusive and relevant to support healthy queer identity development. It is vitally important that programs are reviewing their policies and procedures to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their transgender students.

One of our foundational guiding principles at Pacific Quest is Rites of Passage, and many other outdoor therapeutic programs use a rites of passage paradigm to frame the adolescent coming of age experience (i.e., The Hero’s Journey, Jumping Mouse, etc). Rites of passage can be defined as “intentional, meaningful markers of transition from one state of being to another,” (definition from Darcy Ottey) and initiation is defined as achieving adult status in one’s community. With no archetypes, lack of healthy role models, and no clearly defined cultural role; queer youth often feel lost, othered and lonely in their identity development. This makes it hard for them to claim and understand their role in the community. When rites of passage are made inclusive for queer youth, and they are able to learn about queer archetypes and role models, they are able to claim their gifts in meaningful and healthy ways.

Another guiding principle here at Pacific Quest is horticultural therapy and connection to the natural cycles. Through this lens, LGBTQIA+ students are able to see nature as a mirror of their identity experience. They can see that there is queerness in nature and it happens naturally in both the plant and animal kingdoms. Rare and beautiful bilateral gynandromorph butterflies that are half male and half female, and “parrotfish that start out as male or female but have sex organs of both sexes; they are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning they can change from female to male. Some females will become supermales: larger males with brilliant, lively coloring.”  Seeing queerness reflected in nature helps students see that they are rare, special and gifted rather than different, othered, and ultimately shamed for who they are. This shift in lens can mean the world of difference for a young person struggling to claim and be proud of their marginalized identity.

After participating in our queer inclusive rites of passage experience at Pacific Quest, one student drafted this statement of intent to bring back to his community:

“I am a shameless queer warrior who is fearless, loves himself, and trusts himself unconditionally.”

March 24, 2017

Written by:

Learning Differences at PQ

By Brian Konik, Ph.D. and Kristen McFee, MA, LPCC

I am always inspired and impressed when I watch a student complete his or her legacy garden project: they are beaming with pride, smiling, wiping sweat off their soil-covered faces. And I know how many steps it took them to get here. Managing their schedule to find extra time with all of their other obligations. Days are full of academic work, therapy, yoga, groups, gardening, cooking, cleaning and yet they learn to develop a schedule and make time to create something special. The goal is to find inspiration and work hard to produce something that others who follow will benefit from. To give back to the land and the Ohana (family). I have seen beautifully constructed lava rock walls, medicinal herb gardens, and bamboo furniture pieces, all created by students. Such accomplishments would be great for any student but they are uniquely important for those who have struggled with a lifetime of frustration dealing with learning differences often coupled with executive functioning deficits.

Pacific Quest’s horticultural therapy focus provides a unique environment for students who struggle with a combination of cognitive and emotional/behavioral issues. Pacific Quest utilizes a strength-based, “multiple intelligence” approach to learning. This approach is rewarding for students who may not have achieved acknowledgement for their strengths and abilities in traditional settings. The garden setting especially promotes growth in students’ executive functioning skills like organization, planning, abstract reasoning, memory, and attention.

Gardening provides a soothing environment where the nervous system can become regulated, offering opportunities to “access” cognitive-behavioral interventions. By placing the student in the role of the project manager and creative problem solver in the garden, each is forced to simultaneously engage in visual-spatial organization skills and interpersonal communication. This combination of skills can be particularly challenging for students who struggle with executive functioning deficits.

Many students find that their executive functioning deficits not only impact academics, but just as importantly affect their social relationships. Effort is taken to encourage social relationships, learn and practice social pragmatics and for students to have an integral role in a supportive peer group. A series of therapeutic horticultural experiences are offered with the intention of accessing the biological processes of the garden in order to increase interaction with the non-linear aspect of nature, increasing mental flexibility.Learning Differences at PQ - Pacific Quest: Wilderness Therapy for Teens & Young Adults

Therapists help the family reach an understanding of how learning differences contribute to the the stress response of the student, help the family avoid negative attributions to the student, and create understanding and acceptance within the family system. The family works toward balancing emphasis on both struggles and strengths, as it can be easy to lose sight of the strengths in face of struggles.

It is a unique experience to be apart of how this integrative approach is helpful in understanding and treating those with learning differences and executive functioning deficits. It is rewarding to see students empowered through their success in the garden. I am grateful to be a part of the growth process of so many students who work hard to learn and grow every day, taking one more step to overcome their challenges.

March 16, 2017

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Horticultural Therapy Training at PQ

By:  Dara Downs, Alumni and Family Services Liaison

Pacific Quest recently offered a Horticultural Therapy training for all staff members at our Young Adult campus at Reeds Bay.  This training was a unique experience where field managers came alongside field guides, and logistics staff worked side by side with nurses. Therapists and administrative staff traded their computers and phones for a trowel and some compost. In order to participate everyone left their job titles in the parking lot and put on their close toed shoes, long pants, and work gloves. They all knew, it was time to work in the garden!

Horticultural Therapy Training at PQ - Pacific Quest: Wilderness Therapy for Teens & Young Adults

Back to Basics Gardening Stations

One of the main goals of this training was to assist all employees in developing a relationship with the garden, and increase individual’s confidence on the land.  In addition, the training was designed to help staff members understand the role of Horticultural Therapy (HT) and the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics® (NMT) at PQ. In doing so, our Academic Coordinator was able to weave in parts of the HT curriculum into the training events to help set guides up with applicable lessons to use directly in the field.

The day was filled with numerous hands on activities and as every farmer knows, the best way to learn something is to get your hands dirty!  The group started off with a scavenger hunt in the ethnobotanical gardens at Reeds Bay called “The Village”. These gardens focus on growing traditional Hawaiian plants which are referred to as canoe plants. Everyone used the clues in the scavenger hunt to find specific plants. Upon finding each plant, participants followed a lesson from the curriculum based off the acronym CARE (Commitment, Awareness, Relationship/Responsibility, Effort).  They were able to practice caring for these sacred plants while also racing the clock!

After this competitive challenge, everyone engaged in “Back to Basics Gardening Stations” around campus. These stations focused on educating and providing hands on experiences in the following topics:

  • Compost and Soil Health
  • Tree Health and Bed Maintenance
  • Nursery and Transplanting
  • Square Foot Gardening

Presenters at each of these stations role modeled the three “R’s” of NMT: Regulate, Relate, and Reason. Each station started off with a breathing exercise, or something tactile and rhythmic, before jumping into relating to the environment, reasoning and teaching a lesson.

Following this, the group enjoyed lunch, and afterwards set up to process what they gained from the morning activities.  PQ’s Horticultural Therapy Director, Travis Slagle, MA, led the group discussion on how to use these activities to engage students in meaningful conversations. He touched upon practicing these gardening techniques while developing

Horticultural Therapy Training at PQ - Pacific Quest: Wilderness Therapy for Teens & Young Adults

Travis Slagle leading group lesson

relationships with students who may be challenging or disengaged. He comments, “It is essential that we are able to successfully translate skills of intuition and observation from a gardening experience to our daily lives.”  Staff members began sharing their stories and openly discussing techniques and experiences of successes they’ve had on the land. Participants shared ideas and methods that worked and helped to reach a wide variety of students.

After this open forum discussion, everyone broke into their groups again for afternoon stations which were focused on specific activities for assisting our students in the NMT model (regulate, relate and reason). The groups included, cordage making, weeding/bilateral movement, planting play, and wellness. These groups introduced themes of music and play into the garden, while also demonstrating tools like cordage making where you can bring the garden to a student. The wellness department also led a group that focused on EFT (a breathing/meditation technique), the bucket theory, and connecting plant health with gut health.

To end the day, everyone was invited to a garden party where music was played and pineapple paradise was saved from weeds and invasive species like african tulip trees.  Amanda Moreno, PQ Therapist, mentioned that, “It was a gift to spend a day in the garden connecting with my peers and collaborating with my colleagues. I learned a lot about gardening and can’t wait to use it with the students.”  An Adolescent Program Field Supervisor also commented, “One of my key takeaways from this training was the value of regulate, relate, and reason. I learned so many ways to engage in each of these in the field.”

February 22, 2017

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PQ Offers First Annual Free CE Workshop for Hilo Community

By: Kristen Sutton, Therapist, & Lauren Meyer, Field Coordinator

Over 80 people attended a recent continuing education (CE) event offered by Pacific Quest (PQ). Community service and the ability to “give back” are essential cornerstones of the program, therefore, PQ offered this CE event free of charge to Big Island mental health professionals.  Attendees included psychologists, play/sandplay therapists, school counselors, social workers and other mental health professionals who had the opportunity to earn three continuing education credits through APA and NASW- Hawai`i Chapter.

Pacific Quest offers free continuing education event

Dr. Freedle presenting at CE Event in Hilo

Dr. Lorraine Freedle, PQ’s Clinical Director, presented “After the Towers Fell:  Healing Trauma with Sandplay Therapy, A Neuropsychological Perspective”. Dr. Freedle shared her expertise and passion for both Sandplay Therapy and the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics® (NMT). The presentation focused on the case study of Jimmy (pseudonym), who as a young boy lost his father in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.  At age 22, Jimmy was overwhelmed with OCD, alcohol abuse, guilt and shame and was unable to meet the demands of college.  As a result, he sought treatment at Pacific Quest where he engaged in sandplay therapy as part of a comprehensive, holistic treatment approach.

Workshop participants explored a neuropsychological perspective on how sandplay heals trauma and took a journey through Jimmy’s treatment process. They walked away with an understanding of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics and a better awareness of the Sustainable Growth model utilized at Pacific Quest. The attendees were also touched by Jimmy’s story and created artwork to express how his story connected with their own experiences.

Lauren Meyer, PQ Field Coordinator, who was in attendance, comments, “Dr. Freedle took her audience through a journey of images Jimmy created in the sand. There were tears throughout the room, as well as in my own eyes, when we saw an image of ‘that fateful day’ through the eyes of an eight year old child.”  An intimate look at how Jimmy, as a young adult, accessed healing resources through meditation, horticultural activities and sandplay therapy followed.

“Multiple attendees spoke about feeling moved and inspired by the presentation and Dr. Freedle’s work,” noted Kristen Sutton, PQ Therapist. “One therapist in private practice shared her gratitude for being able to gather together with other professionals to discuss her passion – Sandplay. I left feeling grateful and privileged to do the work that we do.”

February 20, 2017

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Eating Disorder Treatment: A Different Approach at PQ

By: Andrea Sussel, MSS, LCSW

It’s time to talk about it

Eating Disorder Treatment: A Different Approach From Traditional Models | Pacific Quest

Andrea Sussel, MSS, LCSW

The National Eating Disorders Association has created National Eating Disorders Awareness (#NEDAwareness) Week to shine the spotlight on eating disorders and put life-saving resources into the hands of those in need. This year’s theme is It’s Time to Talk About It. Andrea Sussel, PQ Therapist, shares how we can make that happen without doing further harm.

Eating disorders, food and body image are not easy things to discuss. Conversations can be riddled with unintended triggers, for example, I have heard from many people who are in recovery say that when someone tells me I look “healthy” they instead hear “you look fat”. So how do we discuss these issues without contributing to the struggles of another?

  1. Focus on what our bodies can DO and how they FEEL, not on how they LOOK.
    Because our approach is one of whole-person wellness, students can begin to focus on what their bodies need and how their bodies feel versus how they look. While this is occurring, we are simultaneously providing a lot of education – including lots of research – about whole-body, whole-person wellness. From a programmatic perspective, shifting this focus includes de-emphasize mirror gazing (at PQ we have very few to begin with) and also having students wear clothes that are loose fitting and uniform.
  2. Remember that exercise and movement is for our physical and mental health, not for weight loss.
    Experiencing what are bodies can do, and moving them shamelessly is an essential part of healing from an eating disorder. At PQ, we educate our students about metabolism and how food as fuel translates into a greater capacity to live our lives with more vibrant energy. Movement takes the form of working in the garden, yoga, swimming, weekend hikes, and daily core workouts. It takes reinforcement to rewire the societal messages that tell us to exercise to control weight. At Pacific Quest, we move for a higher quality existence, one that helps us feel more connected to our bodies and our passions.
  3. Speak up when we hear “Fat Talk”, don’t let it go unaddressed.
    Pacific Quest is a Fat Talk free zone. Having appropriate boundaries about what we can and can’t talk about helps not only break the pattern of negative self talk, but gives space to encourage new and healthier patterns to emerge. PQ is also “lookism free”. Lookism is defined as a “construction of a standard for beauty and attractiveness, and judgments made about people on the basis of how well or poorly they meet the standard.” At Pacific Quest, you can be healthy at any size. We don’t subscribe to one “look” being beautiful – all looks, shapes, and sizes are!
  4. Remember, food is medicine.
    Sometimes what isn’t being said is just as important as what is. Getting involved in food preparation can be a healing activity, as individuals start to rebuild their relationship with food. And at Pacific Quest, growing your own food is akin to teaching someone how to fish; learning and beginning to appreciate that entire developmental process can lead to lifelong shifts in understanding and healing. Students have the opportunity to learn about their own relationship with/to food as well as the relationship with their body. The place where these two relationships overlap is in the garden, making Horticultural Therapy a powerful therapeutic modality. There is also a lot of healing that comes from preparing your own food in a community setting. Because Pacific Quest is not a primary eating disorder program, students with eating disorder patterns are able to observe and “rise to” the normative eating habits of the rest of the group.

The Pacific Quest model imparts skills to make progress and healing sustainable for eating disorder recovery for a lifetime: You learn how to truly feed all your hungers at Pacific Quest.

February 3, 2017

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PQ Success Story: Creating a Path in Life

By:  Dr. John Souza & Janna Pate

Linus came to Pacific Quest as a 25-year-old who struggled with four college failures, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. He often referred to himself as “lazy” and believed he could not finish anything.

At Pacific Quest, Linus received a 391-page curriculum consisting of 242 assignments in English, environmental literacy, fitness, health, Hawaiian culture, horticulture, and psychology. One of those assignments was a project called a Discernible Difference (DD) that requires students to spend at least 3 days creating a lasting, positive impact on the land.

PQ Alumni Success Story: Creating a Path - in the Garden and in Life

Student with his final project

Per his pattern, Linus took on a project that was far bigger and more anxiety-producing than necessary, opting to cut a long and difficult path through the cane grass (a “noxious weed” that grows in clumps over 10 feet high) to a meditative section of the camp known as Ocean View. At the time, students could not access Ocean View independently because it wasn’t visible to staff over the cane grass.

To start, Linus felt his familiar pattern of anxiety while working in the cane grass and at times suggested quitting. However, as he continued to work and reflect, he began to feel empowered.

Most notable was the day when Linus began to redefine his past failures as not resulting from “laziness,” but rather from a “paralysis of analysis” — anxiety from over-thinking and not “doing” something. By “doing” something every day, Linus learned how to break down large tasks into smaller ones, take breaks, ask for help, and take ownership of his own wants and needs.

When project completion was in sight, Linus began to ask: Wouldn’t the cane grass simply grow back? But finally he said, “It doesn’t matter if the DD gets maintained after I leave, the real work is for me. And if it does get taken care of, all the better.”

PQ Alumni Success Story: Creating a Path - in the Garden and in Life

Over a year later – continued progress!

Almost a year and a half later, we are happy to report that Linus’s DD has inspired generations of PQ students not only to maintain the Ocean View path to but to expand it. A vast new area for gardening and other projects now exists: a pumpkin patch, a meditation mandala, a memorial garden, and a secondary path to a space used for graduation ceremonies. And students can access Ocean View independently.

Not only did Linus complete all of his work at PQ, but since leaving, Linus has successfully completed a transitional program, started taking university classes, and is living independently, continuing to create his own path.

February 1, 2017

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The Kaleidoscope of Adolescent Grief

By: Tom Jameson, Therapist, & Maureen Sullivan, Therapist

Last week, Pacific Quest (PQ) presented a breakout session at the National Association for Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) Conference. Tom Jameson and Maureen Sullivan, both PQ therapists, teamed up to showcase the unique ways in which PQ addresses grief and loss in the context of our lush garden setting. These two seasoned PQ clinicians engaged with their audience in their presentation entitled “The Kaleidoscope of Adolescent Grief: Exploring multifaceted grief experiences in teens.” This is a topic of universal relevance as the human experience includes grieving at various times throughout the lifespan. Maureen says, “As clinicians, we are called upon to walk the journey of grief alongside our students, engage in relationship and give permission to grieve.”

Grief and Loss - PQ Presents "The Kaleidoscope of Adolescent Grief" at NATSAP

Participant during session

“A fundamental premise to our collaborative presentation was that the grief experience takes many forms, colors and shifts over time: much like the kaleidoscope,” says Tom. “Additionally, grief is differentiated from bereavement in that bereavement refers to the process of recovery after the loss of a loved one while grief refers to any loss.” Tom and Maureen carefully described ways in which adolescents can be in an active grief process due to the loss of innocence, friends, or even movement to a new school or community among other losses. The concept of disenfranchised grief was discussed as being a grief process that is marginalized, overlooked and, often misunderstood. Therefore, the grief process is often overlooked as a clinically relevant issue. Maureen noted, “Naming the grief and giving students an outlet to express grief openly allows for the healing process to begin. If we are open, patient and willing, the grief experience can be a beautiful and healing journey.”

They described how the setting of Pacific Quest affords students a unique opportunity to move through a grief process with the gardens as a living metaphor. In nature, there is constant loss and re-birth, and even the act of composting allows students to experience the cycle of transformation of organic waste into fertile soil. Tom and Maureen described interventions with students using the gardens, rites of passage, ceremony as well as art and sandplay therapy.

Grief and Loss - PQ Presents "The Kaleidoscope of Adolescent Grief" at NATSAP

Tom Jameson & Maureen Sullivan presenting

Attendees of this presentation expressed that they appreciated the open, participatory presentation style as well as an appreciation for the dynamic and creative interventions PQ uses in addressing grief and loss in this population. Several participants were moved to share their own grief experiences as well as ask questions clarifying the PQ treatment approaches. More specifically, the two cases presented by Tom and Maureen generated a great deal of rich dialogue.

Lastly, each attendee was provided a mandala (very similar to the view inside a kaleidoscope) to “color” the different types of grief that were discussed during the presentation as they experienced them throughout their own lives. All in all, this was a wonderful combination of head, heart and passion for the difficult yet beautiful experience of supporting adolescents through the grief process.

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