Mental health counseling conference comes to Hawaii

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Mar 28 2014 07:43:44 PM HST

Morgan Spurlock visits Hawaii as a keynote speaker at the American Counseling Association Conference.

HONOLULU -

Sometimes the people on the front lines dealing with disasters are not the ones wearing badges or carrying guns. Counselors are the ones trying to figure out why people do what they do.

Click here to watch Lara Yamada report.

On Friday, the largest conference of its kind for counselors is on at the Hawaii Convention Center. Even an award-winning filmmaker is joining in on the topics that touch every aspect of our lives.

Award-winning Documentary Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock started by saying, "There was a guy, George, who I was locked up in prison with..."

Not often you start a conversation that way, but it is one of many experiences for Spurlock. A different experience followed his junk-food binge fest was captured in his critically-acclaimed documentary "Super Size Me."

Now here in Hawaii, he is taking about a second season of TV show "Inside Man" on CNN. Anything is possibly on the table from pet mania to becoming paparazzi, even highlighting celebrity obsessions:

Spurlock is also here for the American Counseling Association, welcoming thousands of experts, covering hundreds of topics and introducing the social problems of today with the professionals who can help.

"The idea is to help people to cope and that's what we try to do, educate people and give them more information," said ACA President Dr. Cirecie West Olatunji.

Dr. Olatunji says dealing with trauma in real life and what we see on TV is a major topic. For the second year, they are doing live demonstrations and forcing counselors to think critically and quickly.

"We act it out so they can see what happens and then we stop and communicate about it. So they understand what's helpful about this and how can we change and alter what it is that we do," said Dr. Olatunji.

She says cultivating healthy relationships and slowing down enough to be mindful of our actions and understanding we can correct our paths are the keys to a happier life.

Dr. Olatunji says there are now cell phone apps that help people monitor their behavior, their thoughts and control how they respond to stressors in their lives. She says some practitioners are also relying more on digital or distance counseling to reach people in rural or remote areas.

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