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May 15, 2018

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Oprah puts Dr. Bruce Perry and NMT in the Spotlight

By:  Kristen McFee, MA, LPCC

Kristen McFee, MA, LPCC

As Dr. Bruce Perry sat down to an interview with Oprah on 60 Minutes, we watched in anticipation as April marked two years of Pacific Quest being Site Certified in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics© (NMT).  As Founder and Senior Fellow of the Child Trauma Academy (CTA). Bruce Perry, MD, PhD has expertise in child and adolescent psychiatry, neurodevelopment and traumatology.  Dr. Perry is highly respected internationally and has done extensive neurobiological research on the effects of trauma in young people.  He has led the Pacific Quest team into certification and maintenance of the NMT.

The Neurosequential Model© integrates neurodevelopment, developmental psychology, traumatology, sociology and other disciplines to understand individuals and the family.  Pacific Quest uses this model to inform program design and individualize interventions. Initially, the focus of treatment is developing regulatory capacities to support neurodevelopment and to optimize learning.  Next, students strengthen relational health and problem solving abilities.

Our trained clinicians use the NMT assessment process to collect developmental history, assess current functioning and inform clinical decision making.  This approach guides treatment through a selection of interventions and program design.

To support brain development Pacific Quest utilizes a “bottom up” approach following Dr. Perry’s sequence of engagement:  “Regulate, Relate and Reason.” This is the process of moving from the bottom of our brain (brainstem) up to the top (cortex).  The sequence is very important. When a person is regulated or feeling emotionally and physically settled, they are more able to relate or feel connected.  When a person is connected, they are more able to reason and engage in higher level executive functioning, which is critical for problem solving, prediction, perspective taking, etc.

At Pacific Quest, the garden lends itself to many opportunities to regulate. Regulation involves patterned, rhythmic, repetitive activity.  This includes digging, weeding, breaking apart lava rock to make room for new gardens, building rock walls and clearing land. Regulation also includes daily exercise, expressive therapies such as art, quiet breathing meditations or cooking, chopping and stirring in the kitchen.  Our integrative team works hard to build rapport and relationships with students so they can support and challenge them in their daily goals, living skills and group engagement. Through this regulatory and relationship support, students practice reasoning. Reasoning skills include being a camp leader and having to schedule an entire day and hold peers accountable to camp expectations. Students often create garden projects or legacy projects in which they have to plan, organize and problem solve allowing for a natural method to practice executive functioning.   Students often process and reason in their therapeutic work as they reflect, come into awareness and work to shift from their old story (negative behavior) into their new story (healthy behavior) . But first, they have to tell their story.

In a 60 Minutes Overtime report, Oprah reflects on her experience of doing this story with Dr. Perry. She described the process as “Life Changing” for her and expressed a hope that this story of trauma informed care will be revolutionary. Dr. Perry and Oprah expressed the importance of connection and having a sense of value.  Oprah emphasized the importance of sharing our story and asking the question, “What happened?” She explained, not only is this an important question for those who have experienced trauma, but it is the most important question we can ask of anyone.

To continue and share our work, Dr. Lorraine Freedle, Clinical Director and Travis Slagle, Horticultural Therapy Director will be presenting at the Neurosequential Model International Symposium in Banff, CA, June 13-15, 2018.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF20FaQzYUI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqu54ZlhINc

April 4, 2018

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Teresa Bertoncin Presents in Chicago

Primary therapist, Teresa Bertoncin recently presented at the International Society For The Study Of Trauma And Dissociation Conference in Chicago. This conference provided cutting edge information about dissociation, the dissociative disorders, and all forms of complex trauma related disorders. It was comprised of the most recent developments in clinical interventions, theoretical concepts and research in the field of complex trauma, abuse and neglect.

teresa-bertoncin-PQ

Teresa Bertoncin, Primary Therapist

Teresa’s presentation highlighted the trauma of Stigmatized Loss and the devastating impact of exclusion, isolation, invalidation and neglect. She discussed the benefit of therapeutic modalities specifically EMDR (Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) psychotherapy and the wilderness setting.

Teresa’s discussion of stigmatized loss included the impact of divorce and family dissolution, suicide, illness, substance related causes, and psychological abuse.  Factors that garner resiliency in cultural preservation versus individual preservation, and those that lead to societal devaluation were addressed, utilizing contrasting case studies from rural South African villages, as well as the universal similarities that exist among adolescents and young adults in the United States.

In addition, Teresa explored the ways in which an intact cultural community helps members navigate these traumatic experiences; while identifying the internal, familial and societal factors of shame, disgrace and judgment that keep victims and those experiencing loss at an impasse.

The workshop explored the trauma of stigmatized loss and disenfranchised grief, and resulting identity disintegration. She shared how stigma devalues relationships and connection, and that stigma is at the root of rejection and ostracism.

The audience participated in an experiential example and lively discussion on the topic of rejection.  Teresa comments, “Rejection has a strong impact, even on the most minute level, and we react to it physiologically, emotionally, cognitively and behaviorally.”  She explained how our need to belong is so strong that we experience psychological and physical effects right away. She adds, “Rejection impacts our thinking, floods us with anger, destroys our self confidence and derails our sense of belonging.”

Brain scans show the same brain regions get activated when we experience rejection, as when we experience physical pain. The resulting long-term physical and mental consequences of disapproval and rejection can be extreme. Teresa shared research showing that children and adolescents may be impacted more negatively by rejection and ostracism than adults, with more extreme reactions. Brains of adolescents who experience rejection and ostracism may undergo long-term changes with normal development short-circuited. Adversely affecting cognitive ability, influence hormonal systems, and can induce symptoms ranging from paranoia to substance abuse.

Teresa went on to discuss the successful treatments and specialized interventions for these types of complex trauma, all of which are utilized at Pacific Quest in conjunction with the neurosequential model approach to treatment, including: EMDR, Horticultural therapy, Sandplay therapy, mindfulness, somatic and cognitive behavioral therapy, and the advantages of an outdoor behavioral health setting.

October 4, 2017

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5 Simple Ways to Decolonize Your Life

By: Mike McGee, Family Program Manager

The term “decolonization” is controversial.  It forces us to critically examine the western approaches to nearly all intellectual pursuits from politics to science to religion and social interactions.  The opinion is held by many that decolonization requires radical action while others propose further education to create a fully imagined multicultural society.  It can also imply that the status quo is flawed.  Yet there are aspects of decolonization that can enrich each and everyone of our lives. These indigenous methodologies make up the worldview of intact or native cultures and can allow individuals to find deeper connection and meaning in this world.  At Pacific Quest, we strive to utilize these concepts without appropriating native cultures and encourage our clients and families to find their own unique expression.

Mike McGee, Family Program Manager

When I began to study indigenous methodologies and approaches, I found more commonalities than I expected. I began to find the connections in science (Quantum Mechanics), sociology (Sociocultural perspective), gardening (Biointensive methods of farming), education (narrative education), and numerous therapeutic approaches (Neurosequential Model, Narrative Therapy, and Family System Models).  We may fail to see these approaches as uniquely indigenous methodologies.

Here are 5 simple ways (that we use at Pacific Quest) to begin the process of what I’m calling micro-decolonization:

  1.   Life is Cyclical

The environmental approach seen in social and family systems work, sociology, and therapy highlight something that intact cultures have always known: that life is cyclical rather than linear.  When we narrowly focus on end goals, we often fail to see the beauty in detours.  We fail to see the richness of each experience.  We fail to see that the seed is just as important as the sprout, the fruit, or the compost.  Whatever goodness has happened in the past will return, as will periods of struggle.

  1.  Value all perspectives in life development

Our society sees adolescence as a time of recklessness, upheaval, and boundary pushing. This view is echoed in our advertising, entertainment, and beauty standards.  We look at adults as providers and martyrs.  We see children as naive and ignorant.  We tend to see the elderly as disabled or old-fashioned.  Yet each perspective brings a unique lens and strength to our society.  The joy of childhood, the passion of adolescence, the steadiness of adulthood, and the wisdom of elder-hood all are valued in communities that thrive.

  1.  Accept differing perspectives as truth

We live in a world where we often are only able to accept one truth.  This is taught to us from an early age.  This color is orange and this one is blue.  But those colors are also various shades of gray to someone with color blindness.  They may be considered apricot or teal to someone else.  The truth is contextual to each individual.  It is their truth and how the world appears to them.  Adopting the viewpoint that more than one ‘truth’ may coexist in a situation allows for freedom of expression and can lead to mutual understanding.

  1.  Give gifts that mean something

It feels good to give.  And it also feels good to receive.  It’s validating to friends and family when the gift exchange represents more than just the dollars spent, and is infused with creativity or thoughtfulness by the giver, fostering more meaning for the receiver.  Ask just about any parent what their most precious possession is and there is a good chance that it is something that their child made or gave them.  As we age, our creative expressions can be tainted by criticisms or comparisons, lessening our desire to exercise our creative side.  When gift exchange with meaning occurs, the cultural value of gift giving and the ceremony of that act deepens the connections to those around us.

  1.  Have a connection to the source of your food

One of the main things that separates intact societies from colonized and western cultures is a deep connection to their food source.  We have lost much of the knowledge of where our food comes from and how to cultivate it.  To deepen personal connection to food, get to know the farmers in your area, shop at the farmer’s market, and grow your own herbs, edible plants and vegetables.  There is no better way to find meaning and connection to nature than working in tandem with nature to provide yourself and your loved one’s nutrition.

May 30, 2017

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Dr. Freedle Published in Routledge International Handbook of Sandplay Therapy

Dr. Lorraine Freedle, Clinical Director at Pacific Quest Wilderness Program, was asked to contribute her original work to The Routledge International Handbook of Sandplay Therapy.  Dr. Freedle’s chapter, “Healing Trauma through Sandplay Therapy:  A Neuropsychological Perspective” explores the underlying mechanisms of Jungian sandplay therapy that promote neural integration and wholeness of personality.  It also chronicles the sandplay journey of Liv, a teenager who came to Dr. Freedle to heal from traumatic grief following the sudden and violent deaths of loved ones.

Dr. Lorraine Freedle

“This chapter is not just a brain-based theory, it’s anchored in depth psychology.  And so as we explore how sandplay helps traumatized people safely access and reprocess their pain, we don’t lose the importance of connection to the deeper Self,” Dr. Freedle shared.

As a board certified Pediatric and School Neuropsychologist and international Sandplay Teacher (STA/ISST) Dr. Freedle has practiced and lectured at the crossroads of neuropsychology and sandplay therapy for over 25 years.  The contents for the chapter emerged over a number of years building upon her prior presentations and publications.

When asked about what makes this chapter unique, Dr. Freedle shares “The chapter makes the neuropsychology of therapeutic change accessible and explains how sandplay works.  This is very important for people and programs who would like to utilize sandplay to effect meaningful change.”

This text will be used worldwide in universities to teach sandplay therapy. Pacific Quest congratulates Dr. Freedle on this prestigious honor and accomplishment!

For more information on The Routledge International Handbook of Sandplay Therapy as well as information on how to purchase, please visit: https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-International-Handbook-of-Sandplay-Therapy/Turner/p/book/9781138101692

For more information on Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy Programs, please visit: www.pacificquest.org

November 17, 2016

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Announcing Full Time Integrative Psychiatrist: Robert Voloshin, DO

Pacific Quest is pleased to announce a new member of the Clinical and Wellness teams: Dr. Robert Voloshin, Integrative Psychiatrist.  Dr. Robert joins Dr. Shelly Ham and will be on-site full time.  We are very excited to add another Integrative Psychiatrist to our team!

Pacific Quest Welcomes Dr. Robert Voloshin, Integrative Psychiatrist

Robert Voloshin, DO

Dr. Robert received his BS from UCSD in Biology where he graduated Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He went on to complete medical school at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in the San Francisco Bay Area, choosing osteopathic medical school because of its orientation towards integrative care and healing. In medical school Dr. Voloshin served as president of the Integrative Medicine Club. Dr. Voloshin went on to complete his Psychiatry Residency at the University of New Mexico as well as an additional year of fellowship training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. During his residency and fellowship Dr. Voloshin was involved in cutting edge addictions research. He continued to pursue his passion for integrative psychiatry during his training through research, journal clubs, and conferences.

In addition to Dr. Voloshin’s formal psychiatry training, he has pursued external psychotherapy training in Somatic Experiencing and Hakomi. Both therapies utilize mindfulness and are somatically oriented. Some of Dr. Voloshin’s primary influences in the field of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry are Daniel Siegel MD and Bruce Perry MD, PhD. Dr. Voloshin places a strong emphasis on neuroscience in his work with young people. The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics which Pacific Quest utilizes and Interpersonal Neurobiology, the study of how our primary relationships affect the development of our brains and nervous systems, has a significant impact on his practice. His multifaceted approach to Psychiatry with an emphasis on family systems theory, developmental psychology, psychopharmacology, nutrition, mind-­body approaches, and reconnection to the earth and community makes Pacific Quest an exquisite place for Dr. Voloshin to practice.

In his spare time Robert enjoys playing music, surfing, hiking, reading, travel, yoga, and meditation.

Welcome to the PQ Ohana!

October 19, 2016

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Pacific Quest expands capacity to provide EMDR

By: Teresa Bertoncin, LPCC, LMFT, Primary Therapist

Pacific Quest is excited to announce that a cohort of 13 of its clinical staff recently attended EMDR training with Dr. Roger Solomon, a Senior Faculty Member of the EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Institute, as they work to join PQ therapists already certified in the practice of EMDR.

Trauma is the body and mind’s response to unprocessed disturbing life events. Unresolved trauma is at the core of many psychological disorders—some more obvious than others, for example Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Yet, trauma is often also at the root of many anxieties, phobias, panic attacks, eating disorders, pain, hyper-vigilance, interrupted sleep, self esteem issues and addictions—many of the symptoms we see here at PQ. Trauma symptoms are often difficult to resolve, particularly with adolescents or young adults, because it may not be obvious that the experienced symptoms are related to trauma.

EMDR training recently offered to clinical staff at Pacific Quest

Teresa Bertoncin, LPCC, LMFT

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a well-established approach to psychotherapy and is an evidence-based treatment proven to be effective in trauma resolution. EMDR therapy is very effective at calming and healing in a short span of time. By focusing on a thought associated with traumatic memories it is very specific and direct. It evokes and integrates information on three levels—cognitive, emotional and somatic—very often targeting a negative cognition or a negative self-belief; I’m unlovable, I’m ugly, I’m unsafe, etc. By tracking physical sensations and feelings in the body, and using eye movements and bilateral stimulations, the negative beliefs become dislodged, replaced with positive beliefs about oneself, while using this positive experience to support a future template of adaptive wholeness.

EMDR has proven to be particularly effective, when working with students in a contained and structured outdoor setting that PQ provides. So often it is not trauma per se, but the student’s unrelenting incongruent beliefs or negative cognitions they have about themselves, that drove the behaviors that led them to PQ. In the safe, tranquil and natural environment at PQ with limited distractions, we have the opportunity to get to the root of trauma more organically than in an outpatient setting. By using the detailed EMDR protocols and procedures therapists help clients activate their natural healing processes fairly rapidly.

As much as the body is capable of recovering from physical trauma, EMDR therapy shows that the mind can heal from psychological trauma. Let’s say you’re walking on a lava field and fall and cut your knee. It might be immediately painful, but the body works naturally to close the wound. If however, there are some lava fragments that had not been cleaned out properly, or you keep bonking your knee up against something, the wound will fester and cause ongoing pain. Yet healing resumes once the block is eliminated. We get stuck in trauma when the brain’s information processing system is blocked by the impact of a distressing event, intense suffering ensues, but once the block is removed the brain, like the body, moves naturally towards mental health. The brain is equipped to manage and handle adversity, and EMDR therapy helps the psyche activate its natural healing process.

September 27, 2016

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PQ Students Attend “Embrace” Screening: Documentary on Body Image + Positivity

By: Dr. John Souza, Jr
Primary Therapist

At 7:30 pm on a Monday evening, the movie theater in Hilo, Hawai’i was nearly filled to capacity as over 100 souls gathered to screen the documentary film Embrace: One Women’s Journey to Inspire EveryBODY. Of those souls, nearly 40 were from Pacific Quest and included young adult students, staff, and therapists.

Three months prior my wife (Deepa Ram-Souza, MA) had asked if I would be willing to help her bring a screening of the movie to our local theater. She believed the documentary focusing on what film director Taryn Brumfitt calls the “global epidemic” of poor body image would be well-received on our little Big Island.

At first we struggled to garner interest, selling only a few tickets. Then Pacific Quest’s Clinical Director Dr. Lorraine Freedle, Ph.D., caught wind of the effort, kicking it up to Co-Executive Director Mark Agosto, MBA. Next thing I knew PQ had purchased 40 tickets! This shouldn’t have surprised me, given that the year prior PQ’s leadership had helped champion an effort to take several young adult female students to a showing of The Vagina Monologues at the University of Hilo’s Performing Arts Center.

PQ Students Attend "Embrace": Documentary on Body Image + Positivity

Indeed, the documentary itself was truly eye opening and inspiring. In lucid and compassionate filmmaking, Brumfitt tastefully shared what were sometimes very ugly realities about how women have been influenced to be hyper-focused on “youthfulness” and an “ideal” image of physical appearance. Through compelling interviews with courageous (and beautiful) women (and men), the film offered an assessment of the origins of poor body image and examples of how people have worked through their own personal struggles with body image; taking the viewer to the edge of some uncomfortable (and often extreme) examples of body image issues, but without exploiting the storytellers or losing focus of the larger issue of women’s body image.

After speaking with my wife, our 12-year old daughter (who with her friends, was also in attendance), and several PQ employees who attended the screening, the take away seemed to be that there are no “flawed” bodies because there is no ideal toward which to aspire. That is to say, the “idealized” images we may have about a woman’s (or a man’s) body are simply not real. And even for those idealized images that might actually exist (i.e., are not altered using Photoshop), the hyper-focus on “youthfulness” privileges only a small part of the larger human experience, obscuring the joy and beauty of the diversity of life, including aging and death. This Body Image Movement invites everyone to “redefine and rewrite the ideals of beauty.”

The message many seemed to take from the film is that in life the “beauty” of the body resides in its manifest diversity. This made me think of the garden, made of many plants which themselves are comprised of non-plant elements (e.g., water, soil, sunlight, etc.). When considered this way, no plant is “more” or “less” beautiful anymore than sunlight is more or less beautiful than water or air. All things are interrelated and therefore all things are uniquely beautiful. And this, I believe, is what I am taking from the film: The real beauty in life is not the thing (e.g., the body, the plant, the element, etc.) but the relationship between things. On a personal level, for me the real beauty of life is knowing that I am married to a woman that would care enough to take on such a project; that together we are raising a daughter who has the kind of friends, and who live in a community that cares enough to show up for such events. On a professional level the real beauty is knowing I work for a company that has the kind of leadership that in the spirit of better serving our students and our employees, is open to seizing such an opportunity and has resources to actualize it.

The next day, while visiting students at Reed’s Bay (PQ’s young adult program), one male student asked, “Hey Dr. John, I loved that movie, but what about one for men?!” I passed the message along to my wife, who said she would look into it. Beautiful.

September 22, 2016

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Art and Sandplay Therapy Training Series

By: Andrea Sussel, MSS, LCSW
Primary Therapist

Art and Sandplay Therapy Training Series - Pacific Quest: Wilderness Therapy for Teens & Young Adults

Nine members of the Pacific Quest team completed a 10-month long experiential art and sandplay therapy training lead by PQ Clinical Director, Dr. Lorraine Freedle. Sandplay is a non-verbal, depth-oriented, multi-sensory therapy wherein students use symbols and sand to express and work through their inner experiences. Sandplay rooms are available in both our adolescent and young adult programs. As a primary therapist in the young adult program, I have found this to be especially helpful at various points in treatment with students who are dysregulated and struggling with overwhelmingly difficult emotions. The therapeutic benefits begin as soon as we walk into the room lined with ceiling to floor shelves filled with objects, each of which contain symbolic meaning and energy. Students are incredibly drawn to the collection and it immediately stimulates dialogue, curiosity and expression. Students with trauma sometimes find this form of therapy provides them with a safe way to access and express memories through art, process the experience, and rejoin the world of others.

A Shared Journey

Lorraine held a space for each member of our group to learn concepts and to have a personal journey of healing through a variety of art mediums from pastels, to finger painting, to clay, to creating a “wholeness” project with collage materials. We began each session by making a group sand tray by choosing a personal object from among thousands on the shelves. Together, we created a safe space to go deep, heal and connect in an academically rich, learning experience that was indeed transformative. The experience prepared us to skillfully guide our PQ students on their unique journey.

In our final class, Lorraine prepared a slide show for each of us combining images from our process with her great insights. It felt profound to pause and witness each individual’s transformation in symbolic form.

Personal Reflections

As a Certified Gestalt Therapist, this training will live inside me in perfect harmony with my pre-existing “permission to be creative”, awareness of the here and now, and listening deeply to what emerges in my thoughts, feelings and messages from my body. The entire group expressed heartfelt appreciation for this unique experience to learn about ourselves first, so that we can serve our students well, as they travel their hero’s journey.

Art and Sandplay Therapy at PQ

We offer art and sandplay therapy to our students for many reasons: it’s fun and requires no artistic ability, it transcends verbal communication, and it is multidimensional, allowing for many processes from different levels in the brain and psyche to occur simultaneously. Art therapy is integrative, addressing emotional, cognitive, motor and sensory experiences happening in the here and now. It integrates right and left-brain functions, conscious and unconscious, past and present. And, it facilitates communication through processing what has been created, easing the discomfort that some experience from sharing purely emotional material.

August 18, 2016

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PQ Presents at Annual AANP Conference

By: Sharon Findlay

Dr. Britta Zimmer, Dr. Ryan Shelton, and Dr. John Souza were selected to present at the 2016 American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) Annual Conference in Salt Lake City. Hundreds of NDs, MDs, and DOs gathered to learn about the newest research in the field and practice skills, tools, and exchange ideas. The Pacific Quest team presented “Integrated Management for Adolescents and Young Adults with Psychiatric Diagnoses: The Role of Naturopathic Medicine, Psychopharmacological Agents and Family Dynamics.” This included two cases that showcased our integrated model that is based on naturopathic modalities with a family systems approach. Throughout the session, our talented group demonstrated how we are able to address the totality of the whole case, by implementing the naturopathic philosophy of treating the whole person as well as underlying causes by addressing family system issues.

PQ Presents at Annual AANP Conference on Integrative Model

Dr. John Souza, Dr. Britta Zimmer, and Dr. Ryan Shelton

Each presenter brought different areas of specialization to the session. Dr. Britta Zimmer focused on integrative psychiatry, Dr. Ryan Shelton presented on our naturopathic treatment modalities, and Dr. John Souza spoke to the family systems approach as it relates to whole-patient care. With these three separate perspectives, our team showcased how our model is truly integrated.

With each case study, before and after videos were shared. Audience members were impressed with the significant changes that were clearly apparent by viewing actual clients share their experiences in their own words. Others expressed the desire to learn more about integrative psychiatry in order to help their clients in this integrative way. The overwhelming feedback is that Pacific Quest is really pioneering this part in the industry and people are looking to us as a leader in the field of integrative psychiatry.

Of the presentation, Dr. Britta says “We were able to share this model that we have been creating over the last eight years with our colleagues in the field. Being able to show the progression and success we have been able to achieve since this model has developed was really inspiring. The partnership that we have showed easily because we always work together as a team and side by side – implementing an integrative approach that benefits the client and the treatment team as well.”

To learn more about Pacific Quest and our integrative, whole person approach, please visit the following links:

July 28, 2016

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The Intent Council Door: Part IV

In this four part series, Janna Pate explores the Rites of Passage work at Pacific Quest. From “Huli Ka’e,” the Rites of Passage experience that students participate in, to the “Staff Vision Fast,” a unique opportunity for staff to gain personal and professional development and a deeper understanding of this important component of the Pacific Quest curriculum. Part I discusses Rites of Passage at Pacific Quest and Part II introduces what we call “Intent Statements “. Part III looks at the development of Janna’s own intent statement. 

By: Janna Pate,  Academic Coordinator

As hard as it was to arrive at this conclusion and craft my Intent Statement, the hardest part by far has been living it—not just on the Staff Vision Fast, but every day of my life after that. I’ve been working on living my intent for over a year—sometimes joyfully and sometimes with great discomfort. There have been many ups and downs, many successes and many failures.

What helps tremendously is to know that there is a community of students and staff that are going through this experience together and can support each other throughout the process. When I go to work and look at the walls full of student intent statements, I can’t help but feel camaraderie with them and wonder what some of these students are doing now and how they are living their intents.

For me, some days after the Staff Vision Fast have been terrific. On those days, I feel like I have fully embodied my intent. I have created, accomplished, accepted, shared, given, forgiven, and loved in ways that I never thought I could. Who I am, and the way I am able to see myself in the world, has expanded as a direct result of my intent.

At the same time, there are other days when I haven’t even remembered my intent. It’s as if I have been sleepwalking, simply going through the motions. On those days, I haven’t appreciated the beauty and the inspiration in the world around me, or taken the chance to live and learn and grow.

And on the worst days, I’ve been aware of my intent and simply failed to live it. I’ve fallen into many of the same thought and behavior patterns that I’ve been struggling with for years. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve clung to some things that I should have let go, and I’ve let go of some things that I should have held close. I’ve shut down when I should have spoken up. Some days are tough.

Life is just that way. But experiencing Pacific Quest has taught me that I can get myself through the hard times by pulling on my Intent Statement like a lifeline: “I am whole-hearted.” It’s funny how complicated and painful it was to arrive at such a simple statement and how such a simple statement can continue to expand and unfold. I think it means something new to me almost every day.

Janna Pate intent

My hope and my belief is that every student who comes through Pacific Quest can continue on their journey with their own story to tell, their own Intent Statement, their own lifeline. This is an open door.

When we step through this door, we become new people, different people, yet more of ourselves. Our eyelids flutter up as if from a lingering kiss, or an unexpected daydream. We have touched something, started something, something new and old simultaneously—something precious, something fragile, something real. Perhaps we have planted a seed, or even birthed something: a possibility, an opportunity, a vision, a dream, a purpose, an intention, a goal. When we wake up in this way, we allow ourselves to be reimagined, rediscovered, and reinvented. We also see the world anew. In these moments, we are alive as never before.