Counseling For Life’s Challenges

By Greg Browne
Interviewed by Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - September 09, 2009
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Greg Browne
Program director of Kokua Counseling Centers

Interviewed By Melissa Moniz

Can you discuss the mission of the Kokua Counseling Centers and the population it serves?

Our mission is to be the leading provider of outpatient services in Hawaii. Our philosophy is to help people find hope again by developing personal tools and skills to improve coping and build self-confidence in the face of life’s challenges. We provide counseling for children, teens, adults, couples and families. Our providers use best practice treatment modalities including but not limited to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Family Systems interventions. We also provide medication management as needed. We accept major insurances including HMSA, Summerlin and Kaiser Added Choice. There also is a private pay option for folks who do not have insurance.


Why did Mental Health Kokua decide to add this new outpatient counseling program?

It was largely born out of a growing need for outpatient counseling services in our community. Mental Health Kokua has been a leader in providing community services for more than 36 years.

We recently received a “perfect score” on our CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) review. CARF is internationally recognized as having the highest accreditation standards in the industry. A perfect score happens in about one of every 1,000 programs they survey, so it was pretty special for us and a real honor. The organization has a strong social commitment to serve our communities. Traditionally, we have served people with greater challenges, but it has become increasingly clear, especially in these challenging social and economic times, that everyone needs a little help now and then. Public awareness is increasing in that people now recognize that it is very normal and healthy to seek counseling. As a result of engaging in treatment, many people report greater happiness, improved relationships, and increased abilities and skills to cope with life in general.

How does the program work, and what are the components?

First, screening. Once you call our offices, one of our clinicians will talk with you to find out what service might be best for you. Next is an evaluation. On your first visit, we will ask you questions about what brought you to us, as well as learn about you and how we can help you. And there’s treatment planning, where you tell your clinician what you want from treatment, and together you will create a written plan that describes your goals and how you would like your life to change. The next component is services. The type of services you will receive depends upon what you have defined as your goals. And finally, discharge. You can discontinue treatment whenever you choose, or when you have completed the goals on your treatment plan. An aftercare or self-management program is provided upon planned discharge.

Why is this model unique to Hawaii?

Kokua Counseling Centers are unique in that we offer specific care pathways of treatment for common challenges including but not limited to depression, anxiety, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and kids with behavioral problems. We operate as a multidisciplinary team with ongoing communication and collaboration. We strive to assure continuity of care by making sure our clients have timely access to initial and follow-up appointments because we understand how important it is to get the right kind of help when you need it most. We develop a written plan of care with our clients that describes their goals and how they would like their lives to change. People really appreciate knowing up front that counseling will have a beginning, middle and end, that it does not need to go on indefinitely and that they will be very involved along the way. We measure progress each step of the way so people can see their improvement. When you reach your targeted outcomes, you “graduate” from your episode of care. Most people complete treatment within six to 12 sessions but many are pau after only one or two.

Another unique feature is our “Mental Health Minute” radio and Internet spots. It is an ongoing program that offers tips on a variety of issues such as managing stress, relationship skills and being a better dad. We are very fortunate and thankful to have the support of several local celebrities helping with the “Mental Health Minute” and Mental Health Kokua in general. Current spots feature Tia Carrere, Sam Choy and Daniel Ho. Past supporters include Jasmine Trias, Raiatea Helm and Jerome Koko. Uluwehi Guerrero and Nathan Aweau have agreed to help with our upcoming “Mental Health Minute” radio PSAs.

What are the most common concerns and issues that people come to Kokua Counseling Centers wanting help for?

The most common requests are for help with stress, anxiety, depression, child and adolescent services, and couples counseling/education.

What are some of the biggest challenges for clients to overcome?

We see our clients as on the road to wellness from the moment treatment begins, and often they have already overcome the biggest challenge by finding the courage to ask for help. Deciding to grow and change is not always easy, but the possibilities are endless and the potential for personal growth and happiness is infinite.

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