Healers Say Family Is Key To Teen Therapy

A new effort to assist teens on probation began this spring in Kahuku, and program manager Williams Falevai wants everyone to know about it.

“We recently expanded to include youths from Haleiwa, Waialua and Kaneohe, as well as Ko‘olauloa (Waimea to Kaaawa),” said Falevai, MSW, of Hale o Ho‘oulu a me Mauli‘ola (House of Growth and Healing).

“It’s a non-residential start-up program for youths ages 13 to 17 who have been through trauma, and we are here to help them with chemical dependence education, school, job skills and interviews, resumes and therapy — individual and family,” he added.

The nonprofit service maintains a classroom and office in Kahuku and is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays by the sugar mill at 56-565 Kamehameha Hwy. Beyond the day treatment program, it has a crisis- response component 24/7 with a counselor available by phone or for a house visit, hospital assessment and follow up. For details, call Falevai at 380-6102.

The large federal grant from Office of Youth Services was awarded to the Bobby Benson Center to create the program, and it may be extended beyond its funded two-year period. The intent is to help youths focus on “positive coping skills, decrease criminal thinking, avoid recidivism and learn the skills to be a positive member of society.”

Family is key to the therapy, Falevai added, and staff works to help the ohana recognize its role in the youth’s struggles, transforming from being a possible problem to being part of the solution. Hale o Ho‘oulu also employs the WhyTry? program and its hands-on approach to dropouts, violence, drugs, alcohol, truancy, bullying and failure. They also bring in community members, kupuna and others to instill cultural values.