Wellness Institute teaches problem-solving techniques


POSTED: Monday, September 21, 2009

If you find yourself in a constant state of emergency with more anxiety and negative internal chatter than you want in your life, the Hawaii Wellness Institute has the solution—or at least the beginnings of one.

People need a problem-solving technique to help them handle “;the whining issues in their lives,”; said psychologist Sunny Massad, founder of the Hawaii Wellness Institute, a nonprofit educational organization. “;Our mind is on go, and we don't know how to press the stop or pause button. Yet people think they're inadequate because they're not keeping up.”; Massad, who is also a hypnotherapist, runs the institute and conducts many of the seminars in a lush, serene area at the back of Kalihi Valley.

“;Learn to Counsel Yourself and Others”; will teach you how to reframe critical thoughts and feelings within you and those around you, challenge your belief system and purge the victim role from your life, Massad said. Most of all, she noted, you'll leave with “;tools for conscious living so you can ... align your lifestyle with your values.”;





        When: 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday

Where: Hawaii Wellness Retreat House, 3670 Kalihi St.


Cost: $45


Register in advance (required): Visit www.hawaiiwellnessinstitute.org or call 848-5544


Note: Massad also has a new book, soon to be released, entitled “;UnTherapy—A Positive Psychology for Enlightened Living”;




It's ideal for those looking for an alternative method to traditional psychological counseling that tends to focus on pathology instead of wellness. Her trademarked “;UnTherapy”; gets people where they want to go rather than analyzing old crises. “;It's a way to manage the present by designing a positive future,”; she said, “;because regardless of your past traumas or pains, you have the power right now to make a shift.”;

Massad trains people to start asking questions of themselves and others, beginning with “;What do you want?”; But she really means, “;What do you want that's in your control?”;

With Massad's method, nobody gives advice “;because nobody takes advice.”; And the questions don't necessarily resolve everything. But they do empower. Every time you catch yourself complaining, it can be extremely effective to ask, “;How do I want to respond to that, or how would I rather feel?”;

As a woman who endured much anguish and confusion in her childhood via her adult role models, Massad steps over the rubble matter-of-factly and steers clear of “;the whole idea of pathologizing every human experience,”; or dwelling on the notion that you're damaged by it. “;That's what it is to be human; we're sort of rocks in a tumbler.”;

The seminar, which is an introduction to the 64-hour Counselor Training & Certification Program, addresses the needs of what Massad calls “;the forgotten majority.”; She's talking about people who work and manage households and struggle to keep up with everything from major projects to kids' activities to e-mail and phone messages. They don't possess any major pathology, but they're not happy or at peace.

“;People are always saying what they don't want,”; said Rachel Streater Stanley, a certified counselor who began her training in one of Massad's one-day seminars. “;This helped me create a path where I feel very confident in where I'm going. I had always looked to other people to make me happy.”; And like most women, she often put everyone else's needs ahead of her own.

Massad started the nonprofit and occasionally offers free seminars to the public because “;I feel compelled to help people handle their own stress instead of taking pills,”; she said. “;My whole effort is to put psychology back into the hands of the people.”;