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Dr. Freedle Presents at Neurosequential Model Inaugural Symposium

Pacific Quest’s Clinical Director, Dr. Lorraine Freedle recently presented at the 2014 Neurosequential Model Inaugural Symposium in Banff, Alberta – Canada.  The conference entitled “Brain Development and Trauma: Implications for Interventions and Policy” took place at The Banff Centre on June 10-12th, 2014.  The conference included workshops which highlighted emerging concepts and practices in the areas of trauma-informed care and brain development with a specific focus on the Neurosequential Model. (http://childtrauma.org/)

BanffDr. Freedle’s presentation “The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics™, Sandplay® and Traumatic Grief:  A Case Presentation Illustrating Somatosensory Pathways to Transformative Healing” highlighted a case study of 13-year-old Olivia.  Olivia’s sandplay therapy process illustrated how repetitive, somatosensory engagement facilitates self-regulation, neural integration, and transformative healing in the wake of traumatic grief.

Sandplay is a non-verbal method of psychotherapy with roots in play therapy, Jungian depth psychology and eastern traditions.  Sandplay is one of many mind-body therapies offered at Pacific Quest.  Others include horticultural therapy, art therapy, and yoga.  These methods activate somatosensory pathways essential to healing from trauma.

Pacific Quest is commencing the site certification process in Dr. Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) in the coming months.  NMT certification is part of Pacific Quest’s commitment to trauma-informed, evidenced-based practices.  The certification team will be lead by Dr. Freedle, who is a board-certified pediatric neuropsychologist and NMT trainer.  

Posted in Education, Healing, Information, News, Therapy, Uncategorized, Updates, Wellness, Youth |

Ka’u Coffee Trail Run

OKK_TrailRun_FlierAre you up for a challenge?  Join us for the Ka’u Coffee Trail Run–The Southernmost Coffee Trail Run in the USA!

Pacific Quest is proud to sponsor the first 25 employees to complete the early bird registration by July 19, 2014.  Students and staff will also be assisting at water stations along the way!

This is a great opportunity to support the Ka’u community!  The goal of this event is to help raise money for the economically depressed community, via the non-profit organization O Ka’u Kakou.  O Ka’u Kakou’s mission is to “support and promote a healthy community through educational, cultural, and economic development opportunities that improve the quality of life in rural Ka‘ū.”  All funds raised will go to O Ka’u Kakou to help them better serve the community and become more self-sustaining as well as to promote Ka’u coffee and to promote Ka’u as an international tourist destination.  Along with the race, there will be various tournaments, games for kids, live auction, silent auction, food, informational booths and entertainment throughout the day.

For more information or to make a donation, please visit okaukakou.org

Posted in Community, Information, News, Uncategorized, Updates, Youth |

An Integrated Approach to Sleep Disturbances

By Dr. Britta Zimmer, Medical Director

BrittaThirty percent of children and adolescents experience some sort of sleep disturbances. Sleep disorders include insufficient sleep, insomnia, sleep apnea, circadian rhythm disorder, bedwetting, sleepwalking, restless legs and narcolepsy. Insomnia is defined as the prolonged inability to get the amount of sleep you as an individual, need to wake feeling rested. We often use this term (insomnia) loosely when describing a poor night’s rest.

Teenagers need an average of 9.25 hours of sleep every night. The fact is, you can do everything right for your health in terms of eating well and exercising, but if your sleep is dysregulated then you cannot achieve optimal health. With proper sleep, our memory is well consolidated, our immune systems are strong and our neuroendocrine systems are balanced.

Sleep is one of the Pillars of Health at Pacific Quest. We evaluate sleep quality for all adolescents and young adults in our care as part of our integrated approach to wellness. Though sleep disturbances are common for incoming Pacific Quest students, many do not consider sleep when making a connection to their overall health and well-being.  At Pacific Quest, we help young people to gain a greater sense of awareness around the importance of quality sleep. This awareness, coupled with the structure of the program help to restore quality sleep for many of our students.

Poor sleep can cause a variety of symptoms including: Mood swings, irritability, fatigue, inattention, hyperactivity, depression, impulse control problems, low tolerance for frustration, learning problems, behavioral problems, cardiovascular issues, adverse metabolic effects, hormonal imbalance, headaches, hypoglycemia, and anxiety.  Many of these symptoms mimic or are a symptom of other disorders and can be addressed with sleep restoration.

Many people experience sleep disturbance related to “cognitive popcorn”.  This refers to when you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep because your mind is racing. This is a common complaint I hear from the Pacific Quest students.

How to address sleep issues:

1.   Practice proper sleep hygiene

  • Sleep in a dark environment. Even the light from your cell phone can disturb melatonin secretion. Melatonin is a hormone needed for adequate sleep and an important antioxidant. It gets secreted most efficiently in the complete dark.

  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, chocolate, nicotine and alcohol within 4 hours of bedtime. I have had some patients who need to give up coffee completely (to their dismay) in order to fully correct their sleep disturbances. It can take up to 2 weeks of strict caffeine avoidance to correct a sleep disturbance.

  • Designate your bed and bedroom for sleep only. Watching TV or working on your computer in bed will disrupt your sleep.

  • Avoid napping during the day.  This can disturb your circadian rhythm.

  • Exercise. Leave the vigorous exercise for the morning hours and more restorative types of exercise for the afternoon.

  • Establish a regular bedtime and “wind down” routine. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day (including the weekends) will restore your natural sleep rhythms.

  • Do not eat a big meal right before bed. Having said that, I have used a protein snack to help sleep disturbances as this can balance the blood sugar levels throughout the night.

  • Expose yourself to natural light daily. This helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle

  • Establish a nighttime ritual that does not include electronics.  Sip tea, do some light stretching, or journaling.

2.   Ditch the sleeping pills

  • NIH produced a meta-analysis finding that most sleeping pills create amnesia for awakenings and poor sleep. So you think you are sleeping well but really you are not experiencing restorative rest.
  • Sleeping pills can disrupt your memory formation and cause daytime sedation.
  • Consult your doctor before discontinuing any medications.

  • There are natural alternatives that can be used in place of sleeping pills.

3.   Learn mind-body techniques to induce sleep

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation

  • Breathing Exercises

  • Visualization Techniques

4.   Treat the underlying causes

  • Uncover underlying issues such as hormone imbalance, anemia, hypoglycemia or thyroid disorders.

  • Evaluate medication side effects. Medications for the following medical issues have insomnia as a common side effect: pain medications, thyroid, asthma, depression,  high blood pressure, and cold/allergy medications.

  • Treat your sleep disturbance with non-toxic substances like melatonin, magnesium, chamomile, L-theanine, passion flower, GABA, and 5-HTP.

If you dread the night time because you consider yourself a “bad sleeper” or have labeled your child as a bad sleeper, create a new story with the above plan. Too often people accept poor sleep habits as part of their normal routine.

The integrative team at Pacific Quest recognizes the essential importance of restful sleep for optimal health.  We take a proactive integrative approach to sleep issues and with knowledge and insight, you can too. Sweet Dreams…

Posted in Healing, Information, News, Uncategorized, Updates, Wellness, Youth |

Dr. Freedle to Present at the Sandplay Therapists of America Conference in Seattle

seattlePacific Quest’s Clinical Director, Lorraine Freedle, PhD, CST-T will be presenting “La Llorona Weeps: Neural Integration, Sandplay and Traumatic Grief” at the 2014 Sandplay Therapists of America Conference in Seattle, Washington.  The conference entitled “The Spirit of Story in Sandplay” will take place at the Red Lion Hotel on Thursday June 5th-Sunday June 8, 2014.  The conference will include workshops with presenters from the US, Canada, England, Israel and Italy.

Dr. Freedle’s presentation “La Llorona Weeps: Neural Integration, Sandplay and Traumatic Grief” will utilize didactic and experiential learning with compelling case material and explore clinical concepts in trauma and grief, the Hispanic legend of La Llorona (the Weeping Woman), and the process of neural integration in sandplay.

Sandplay Therapists of America is a non-profit organization established to promote education, training and research in sandplay therapy. STA is an affiliate member of the International Society of Sandplay Therapy, which promotes professional development in sandplay in the tradition of Dora Kalff based on the theories of C.G. Jung.

Posted in Education, Healing, Information, News, Therapy, Uncategorized, Updates |

Changing the World One Life at a Time

By Travis Slagle, Horticultural Therapy Director

bananatransplantChanging the world is not an easy business, and for mental health providers, changing a life can be just as complicated. Many people enter the field of outdoor therapy because they want to change lives. For students at Pacific Quest, the most basic therapeutic task is to literally practice new ways of caring about life. We are digging, planting, composting, harvesting, and sharing abundance in a rhythmic pattern not just because it’s cool to grow your own food, but also because it fits within a sequential model of neuropsychology. We believe learning to grow food is a relevant and transferable therapeutic activity for a generation of young people that are faced with a daunting need to create a more sustainable future not just for themselves but for their families and communities.

A young person who recently graduated from the adolescent program wrote the following note (below) in a group journal.  This note offers an example of what Horticultural Therapy at Pacific Quest is all about.  It serves as a reminder that while we continue to remain in the business of changing lives, our clients are the ones that might just change the world, and perhaps there is no better outcome than that.

studentletter

Posted in Community, Healing, Information, land notes, Nature, News, Organic gardening, Therapy, Uncategorized, Updates, Youth |

Pacific Quest to Support Upcoming Sky’s the Limit Fundraiser

By Yvette Slagle, Communications Coordinator

skysthelimitPacific Quest is proud to be a Gold Sponsor at the upcoming 3rd annual Nightlights! An Evening of Comedy Benefit Event on May 10th in Menlo Park, California.

Sky’s the Limit Fund is an organization that was founded to provide grant money for at-risk youth and their families who would otherwise be unable to afford wilderness therapy. Sky’s the Limit Fund was founded in 2010 by Rochelle Bochner and Lani Dorff. Rochelle and Lani are strong advocates for the benefits of outdoor therapeutic programs and their foundation is dedicated to assisting as many students as possible in receiving the opportunity to experience what wilderness therapy programs have to offer.

Pacific Quest is extremely proud to support the Sky’s the Limit Fund mission to: “Transform the lives of at-risk youth by providing grants, support, and hope through wilderness therapy programs and beyond.” Breaking financial barriers for troubled youth and their families to have access to innovative treatment programs such as Pacific Quest is a noble endeavor that will inevitably lead to new opportunities for families and youth in crisis.

Posted in Community, Information, News, Uncategorized, Updates, Youth |

GET TO KNOW: DR. LORRAINE FREEDLE, CLINICAL DIRECTOR

drlorrainerfreedle_175x220pDr. Lorraine R. Freedle is a board certified Pediatric and School Neuropsychologist with over 25 years experience in clinical practice and administration in children’s behavioral health. She has extensive experience treating young people and their families impacted by trauma, loss, substance abuse, ADHD, mood disturbances, TBI, and a variety of neurodevelopmental and learning disorders through evidence-based practices. She is also a gifted clinical administrator and staff development specialist committed to developing high performing teams.

Lorraine received her BA in Social Work from Pennsylvania State University and her Master of Social Work from the University of Hawai’i in Honolulu. She also holds an Educational Specialist graduate degree in School Psychology from the University of Northern Colorado, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology, with a specialization in neuropsychology from Fielding Graduate University. In addition to earning board certifications in social work, school psychology and neuropsychology, Lorraine completed advanced training and certification in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) through the Child Trauma Academy. She is also an internationally certified Sandplay ® therapist and teacher who has conducted award winning research in this modality. Lorraine is the founder of Black Sand Neuropsychological Services, PC where she conducts neuropsychological evaluations, consultation services, and sandplay therapy.

Posted in Group therapy, Healing, Information, News, Therapy, Uncategorized, Updates, Youth |

Students Have Opportunity to Earn Additional Academic Credits

During a typical eight-week stay, Pacific Quest adolescent students have the opportunity to take six academic courses for a total of four academic credits.

The courses include:academiccredit

  1. Career and Technical Education – Horticulture Pathway (0.5 credit)

  2. Health Education – Health Education I & II (0.5 credits each = 1 credit)

  3. Language Arts – English and Language Arts (0.5 credit)

  4. Physical Education – Lifetime Fitness (1.0 credit)

  5. Science – Environmental Science (0.5 credit)

  6. Social Sciences – Hawaiian Culture (0.5 credit)

Students who stay longer than eight weeks will have the opportunity to earn additional credits in Language Arts, Physical Education and Career and Technical Education. We may also be able to tailor a specific class to a student’s individual journey and provide specialized accommodations for learning differences.

The courses are aligned with Pacific Quest’s therapeutic curriculum, the Common Core Curriculum and National standards, providing a rounded educational experience that incorporates both academic learning and therapeutic growth.  The courses will be transferable credits issued through Alta Independent, an institution accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

ACCOMMODATIONS AND INDIVIDUALIZED LEARNING

Pacific Quest integrates Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and accommodations for students’ learning differences, such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, Dysphasia and Aphasia, Nonverbal Learning Disorders, ADHD, Autism Spectrum, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder and others.

Access to accommodations assures that our students have equal access to our Student Curriculum and therefore, equal access to success.

LEARNING STYLES AND MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES

Pacific Quest also integrates learning styles and multiple intelligences into daily activities and assessments. We believe that this integration emphasizes our students’ strengths and fosters their success. Our team members strive to help students discover their unique learner profiles, and build upon their success.

Our team members use both learning styles and multiple intelligences work to form a powerful and integrated model of learning — a model that respects and celebrates diversity and provides our students with the tools to achieve sustainable growth.

Posted in Education, Information, News, Uncategorized, Updates, Youth |

Choosing Change: Wilderness Therapy for Your Troubled Adolescent

wilderness therapyPeople aren’t born knowing everything, so as they say, hindsight is 20/20. Parents are there to guide their children using knowledge gained through their own experiences – with school or work, with people, perhaps with drugs. Adults recognize destructive behaviors or situations that can cause problems. And because parents love their children, they want to intervene before things get worse.

Unfortunately, troubled adolescents or young adults do not always ask for help. They may try to deal with things on their own. Some kids are in denial that they may even have a problem. In this case, how are parents supposed to get help for their children when they don’t want it?

Wilderness Therapy: Leading Teens along the Road to Change

Just as with grief, there are several stages of change. Initially, denial remains; if a person does not think she has a problem or recognize the destructive path she may be treading, then she will have no intention to change. With some time, understanding will come, and she will see how her current behavior could play out and how changing her behavior could be beneficial. With this new understanding, a young person will begin planning to change, and then take steps to make that change happen – all as a personal, conscious choice – and continue to modify her behavior. The last stage is a termination of the past behavior; change has been accomplished.

Many troubled adolescents and young adults who enter intervention programs such as wilderness therapy continue to believe or act as if they do not have a problem. Wilderness therapy has many benefits, one of which is that it gets adolescents and young adults out of their current environment and into one that acts as a catalyst for change. While students are forced to face change, wilderness therapy doesn’t employ scare tactics, and leaders are not authoritarian.

While realizing the need for change and making it happen are possible alone, it is a difficult journey. However, having a guiding hand, a support system, and the tools to create change can make all the difference as a troubled teen sets out on the road to change – and making that change last.

Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy for Teens and Young Adults

Located on one of Hawaii’s beautiful islands, Pacific Quest strives to be a safe, welcoming place where teens can come to learn, heal, and grow. Basically, it is a place that fosters change. By being actively involved in nature, students get to see and experience its cycles of change and growth in action, and which acts as a mirror of life in general.

The Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program has developed a unique Sustainable Growth Model that incorporates whole-person wellness, individualized clinical care, Rites of Passage, horticulture therapy, and healthy community living. This combination teaches diverse and adaptable principles that translate into life skills and tools that can be used in any situation, and students develop an empowered sense of self as they begin to see their successes and gains in Pacific Quests gardens.

When given the proper tools, troubled young adults and adolescents can turn bad behaviors around and feel able to sustain that change because they have begun to realize their full potential.

Posted in Uncategorized |

OVER 70 ALUMNI TURNED OUT FOR GREAT CAUSE

By: Mike Sullivan, Primary Therapist & Lori Armbruster, Communications Director

ohanadaySFPQ staff members were honored and humbled by the overwhelming turnout of alumni, students and families who gathered at the San Francisco Children’s Garden in Golden Gate Park for an inspiring day of service to the community! PQ alumni spent the day working side by side with PQ staff to build sustainable garden beds, revamp neglected pathways, and artfully paint various stumps and signs with inspirational quotes and educational facts to support this beautiful landmark garden. Though the theme of the day was service, the undertone was that of connection. The garden is a powerful classroom and catalyst to support change, which has been proven during each student’s stay at Pacific Quest. Families attending the event sought to give to their local community and were also excited to reconnect with the PQ Ohana that helped to create meaningful and life-changing experiences during their Pacific Quest journeys.

Upon arriving at the park, all projects were carefully outlined and explained. Moms, dads, alumni, students, and siblings quickly volunteered for various tasks and out came the gardening gloves, shovels, paintbrushes, and hand ohanadaySF5picks. The families dove into the tasks, utilizing communication skills, teamwork, and plenty of good humor to complete each task. The families worked throughout the morning, enjoying the camaraderie, sunshine, and people around them. In a pre-lunch debrief circle facilitated by PQ’s Horticultural Therapy Director, Travis Slagle, many commented on how good it was to reconnect with the garden, nature, and community. Young siblings shared the simple happiness they felt being with their families and doing something together. The park interns commented repeatedly that our volunteer alumni were enthusiastic, polite, exceptionally hard working, and clearly dedicated to the tasks at hand.

The Children’s Garden serves as a venue for educating young children in San Francisco about the wonders of the natural world, where their food comes from, and health and nutrition. The garden is maintained by wonderfully enthusiastic interns, who are dedicated to the well-being of youth in their community. The PQ alumni families continuously expressed gratitude that they were able to contribute to such an important and worthy cause. As the day concluded, the Children’s Garden Community Coordinator and her small team of interns expressed sincere heartfelt appreciation, sharing that in one day our “army of angel volunteers” were able to accomplish several projects that would’ve taken their small crew, weeks and — in some cases– months to complete.

ohanadaySF2As the day came to a close, bittersweet goodbyes ensued. The community gardening project was a huge success! PQ alumni families rekindled a deeper connection with each other and within themselves by working in the garden and giving back to their local community. It is our hope that families will continue to seek out opportunities to practice and put to use many of the concepts learned at Pacific Quest, and that Ohana Days serves to spark that desire.

As I reflect back on this weekend’s event, I am inspired by the ripple effect of the work that we do. Seeing the smiling faces and families working together is a powerful and tangible reminder of that work. It is our goal to foster growth and connection that ripples outward into communities, where families and children will find a deeper sense of connection to themselves and the world.

Posted in Community, Education, Information, land notes, Nature, News, Organic gardening, Service projects, Sustainability, Uncategorized, Updates, Youth |

Pacific Quest Welcomes Johnny Tock

johnnytock_175x220Pacific Quest is pleased to welcome Johnny Tock, LPC as a Primary Clinician. Johnny is a licensed Professional Counselor and holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling from Eastern Illinois University. He completed his undergraduate studies at Hanover College in Illinois. Johnny brings over twelve years of experience in a variety of therapeutic settings including a well-respected children’s group home, county mental health facilities, a wilderness therapy program in North Carolina and a residential boarding school in Idaho.

Johnny is passionate about his work, and is respected for his ability to affect change by creating emotional safety, and by teaching and role modeling healthy relationship skills. He is experienced in using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help alter negative thinking patterns in clients who have struggled with issues primarily related to anxiety, depression, ADHD, and oppositional defiance. Johnny also assists his families in learning healthier and more effective ways to communicate and strengthen relationships.

He is dedicated to helping young adults who are struggling to “launch” and assisting them in recognizing their unique potential, their specific passions and talents and their ability to carve out a healthier path for themselves. Johnny promotes personal accountability through solid communication and follow-through with his families and clients.  He is skilled at creating and implementing comprehensive and innovative treatment plans. He utilizes CBT and other evidence-based techniques in his work and brings insight and experience to each individual’s therapeutic journey.  Johnny also enjoys building rapport through music, humor and his never- ending passion for the great outdoors.

Welcome to the team Johnny!

Posted in Group therapy, Information, News, Therapy, Uncategorized, Updates, Youth |

On the Mainland: Pacific Quest Hosts “Ohana Days” & Alumni Reunion Events

By Lori Armbruster, Communications Director

farmersmarketIn the Hawaiian culture, the word “Ohana” means family, which can be blood-related, adoptive or intentional. The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another.

When a young person enters Pacific Quest, they become part of a larger Ohana. As they discover the best in themselves, they forge new and meaningful relationships with family members, peers, their community and the natural world. These experiences leave an indelible mark on their lives and in the lives of their families.

Week after week, our staff receives letters from alumni students who reach out simply to say, “thank you” or “you made a difference in my life”. Sometimes these letters come years later as the “seeds” planted have taken time to mature and come to fruition. Some are from students who may have struggled during their stay – but have come to realize the value of their experience. While each alumni letter is unique, all share a common theme.  Alumni students and their families consistently express a desire to reconnect with one another and with the staff members who were instrumental in helping them during this step of their journey.

As our alumni venture into the world, we challenge ourselves to further support the incorporation of healthy skills and community-building concepts gathered while in our care.  Pacific Quest’s mission is rooted in true sustainable growth and it is when our students learn to engage in their communities and be of service to others, that new levels of growth may be realized. To that end, we are very excited to announce several innovative alumni events for 2014.

Pacific Quest’s Ohana Days will provide a series of experiential activities for alumni families to re-imagine the work of “incorporation” and the next step of sustainable growth in their own communities.  These community-building events focus on service, an action-oriented approach to giving back, and leaving a legacy that goes beyond self.  Ohana Days will incorporate a variety of volunteer opportunities, such as building gardens in the heart of a city, harvesting food for local food banks, or building a garden for a local school or charity, and other healthy lifestyle events. Ohana Days will also provide an opportunity for students, families and staff to reconnect and get re-inspired! This experience will broaden the support network for our alumni, encouraging community involvement, and reawakening parents and students to what it really looks like “to be the change you want to see in the world.”

Stay tuned for a formal announcement on our first Ohana Days and Alumni Reunion event, which will be held in the Bay Area, Saturday, March 22! Future dates and locations will be updated periodically on our website and Facebook page. For more information, please contact: lori@pacificquest.org.

Posted in Community, Education, Healing, Information, land notes, Nature, News, Organic gardening, Service projects, Sustainability, Uncategorized, Updates, Youth |

A New Perspective

newstaffteamWritten through the voices of incoming Pacific Quest staff and their stories of arrival…

(Through the lens of Kenny)

As we fly into Hawaii the feeling of nostalgia wouldn’t wear off. I have left my family in the midst of winter to join a group of strangers in the field of troubled youth reform. There are only two buses that run from Hilo to Na’alehu, the base city of Pacific Quest. Just sitting there waiting for the bus in my board shorts, tie dye shirt, and fifty pound backpack I stood out as a “PQ’er”. I met Daniel as he strolled up with his two backpacks and flip flops “slippahs.” We knew that we would be traveling to PQ together.

(Through the lens of Daniel)

Aloha from Hilo! I have arrived. I notice two adventurers, you know the ones that sever all ties to step into the unknown following their heart’s current to an island far away. “Are you going to Pacific Quest?” I asked, as if speaking of a destination and journey in the same proper noun. I could tell Brett and Kenny were fresh off the plane, luggage, smiles, and a clear sense of jet lag from just being uprooted and in process of a transplant to new soils. I spent the two weeks prior severing my own ties. I’m speaking of a severance that mimics the falling leaves in autumn. I graduated in December, quit my job, transferred my leadership roles, and mentally prepared for the next stepping stone. I sent the good news to friends and family, spent the holidays with loved ones, and made intentions for the New Year. A year to be filled with mystery, personal growth, and contributions to this good world only imagined in dreams. A dream come true.

(Through the lens of Brett)

As I walked up to Pacific Quest from the bus stop with a few of my new coworkers we are met by Rae, our new Supervisor. She shows us around the grounds and points out the sweetest orange trees and where to find fresh lilikoi (passion fruit). We settled into the dorms as the staff piled in and out at the end of their evening shift. We hear them joking and laughing as they walked up the stairs. Their camaraderie is evident immediately. We are bombarded with names and questions. Their warm welcome calms my nerves and I smile. A feeling of calm washes over me.

(Through the lens of the new staff team)

For the next few days we are guided by multiple staff Leads and Supervisors. This was our chance to meet people and to tour the camps, cook meals in the camps, orientations, and a new staff training. Our training was comprehensive and our needs were taken care of.

newstaffteam2As our transition phase comes to an end, we are filled with questions, curiosities, and dreams. We consider our life, our choices, and reflect on how we arrived here. We consider our role at Pacific Quest and responsibility with ourselves and others. We remember the communities we left behind and consider the new community we are now a part of. We dream of the future and our path towards it.

Posted in Adventures, Community, Healing, Information, Nature, Uncategorized, Updates, Youth |

Pacific Quest Presenting At NATSAP

lorrainetravis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pacific Quest’s Dr. Lorraine Freedle and Travis Slagle will present at the 2014 NATSAP Conference in Henderson, NV.

Title: “Ready, Set…Grow!  A Horticultural Perspective of Integrative Health, Rites of Passage & Future Therapeutic Programs”

Date: Thursday, February 6, 2014

Time: Session B4 11:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

Location: La Luna Room at Green Valley Resort and Spa

As an innovative outdoor therapeutic program for struggling adolescents and young adults, Pacific Quest is proud to be part of the 2014 NATSAP conference.  This presentation will highlight the benefits and implications of Horticultural Therapy as a growth-focused treatment model.  Research studies suggest gardening provides cognitive, emotional, and physiological benefits that can lead to increased overall life satisfaction.  Horticultural therapy offers experiential techniques that place the client in a care-giving role. By engaging individuals and families in the restorative process of cultivating beauty and health in one’s environment, it becomes increasingly possible to internalize beauty and health in one’s self.  This presentation asks the question, how would the world be different if growing a garden were a universal therapeutic task?

Dr. Lorraine Freedle is the Clinical Director at Pacific Quest and a board certified Pediatric and School Neuropsychologist with over 25 years experience in clinical practice and administration in children’s behavioral health.  Travis Slagle is the Horticultural Therapy Director at Pacific Quest. He has over ten years experience working with youth in outdoor and experiential therapy programs.

Posted in Education, Information, News, Updates |

A Parallel Journey

By Jody St. Joseph, Adolescent Program Director

kaucoastIt wasn’t two very large strangers who woke me in the middle of the night, but it was close enough.  My alarm screamed me awake at about 4 am and before long I was at the airport about to leave behind my doggie, my home, and my family.  I boarded the plane tired and very afraid.  What was happening to me!?  What had I done?!

Many hours and three flights later I landed on the strange rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  The Big Island of Hawaii.  Woa, this was real.  I began the long journey down to Ka’u to my new “home” for the foreseeable future.  I was alone in a very strange place with no one I knew and nothing familiar.

I arrived an hour and a half later to my new reality.  A small cabin in the woods.   The kindest woman welcomed me there with a simple “welcome home.”  This, of course, would be my new landlady.  She showed me around my new place, taught me a few of the basics of my new life living off the grid with solar power for my electric and a huge water catchment tank for my running water.  It was simple and there wasn’t much expected of me yet.  Just like the students in our Nalu camp, I started to try to settle into the new surroundings and reflect on the experiences of my life that lead me to this place.  I had to trust so much that was strange and out of my control.  Talk about wilderness therapy!

The next day was my first official day on the job.  What would this strange new experience teach me?  Who were these strange new people that would become a part of my new life?  Would they be nice, would I figure things out… would I be OK!?!?  Luckily I was met with the warmest welcome and more kindness and support than I could ask for.

It was easiest at first to focus on the day to day tasks at work.  I started to piece together my schedule, participate in meetings, do my part to keep the office clean, and started to learn the new language of Pacific Quest.  Much like our Kuleana students, I was starting to get the hang of what would be expected of me daily, and had work tasks to fuel conversations with new people.  I began to identify my personal responsibility in this new community… this new Ohana.

Weeks turned into months and I moved on from “task talk only” and started to participate more fully in my new community.  Work relationships quickly became more personal and I began to get to know the other members of my Ohana.  Some days were stressful and exhausting and I longed for my home and my family.  Other days I learned something new or made a breakthrough on a project and felt the confidence and pride in a job well done.  My scary new surroundings started to become truly beautiful and comforting.  I started to settle in.

It has been over four months now that I’ve been in this new place and on this new journey.  I had no intention of creating an experience for myself that was quite similar to that of our students; however, as I reflect on my time here so far I realize it’s the same in so many ways and I am humbled and in awe of the awesome demonstration of resilience and trust and courage that it takes to survive (and thrive!) through an experience like this.  Pacific Quest students do this day in and day out and my greatest hope for them is that they know how amazing they are for being here, for waking up each day and making the decision to carry-on, trusting that they will be okay.  Of course, by doing that, we are able to guide them a little bit on their amazing journeys and they will grow in their own personal ways.  I hope and believe, and it’s not always easy, that the same will be true for me.

Posted in Community, Healing, Information, Nature, News, Uncategorized, Updates, Youth |