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About Us 2020-03-26T01:54:12+00:00

Malama homepage collage -- updated 7-20

About Us

Our Mission:
To provide caring, holistic substance abuse treatment to women and children so families can live safe, independent and healthy lives

Providing Care for Women in Recovery

Malama Family Recovery Center is the only agency on Maui that provides a continuum of gender-specific treatment services specifically for women in recovery from substance abuse and addiction. Malama is a non-judgemental and comfortable place where women can privately and confidentially talk about their needs and concerns with caring professionals. Gender specificity in treatment is critical to successful outcomes because women who use/abuse substances share common life experiences and have needs distinct from their male counterparts. Read more

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

woman and babyPregnant and parenting women have priority in receiving substance abuse and addiction treatment services at Malama. The earlier we can intervene with these families, the more likely we can successfully break the generational cycle of drug abuse, victimization and incarceration that has become so costly to our community. The teens we help often begin receiving services when they’re pregnant. Sometimes these are the daughters of women currently in our programs, and we’re trying to make a difference in these young women’s lives so they can be free of the family patterns of abuse and addiction.

Focusing on the Family

Malama Family Recovery Center is the ONLY place on Maui where young children and infants can live with their mothers while they receive services through residential programs. Women do not have to choose between getting healthy and being with their children — they can do both. We believe strongly in the power of a healing family setting. While clients get help, their children are nurtured in an environment that allows them to heal from negative life experiences. Our main facility, located in a residential home, provides an atmosphere that is warm and safe. Our staff is committed to providing a safe, sober and healthy environment for women to do the challenging work of healing themselves so they can create positive change for their families.

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Removing Barriers

Because the women we serve are a “high needs” and difficult-to-reach population, we need to eliminate the most common barriers to treatment that women in recovery face. We eliminate these barriers by not requiring clients have insurance in order to get help, providing transportation (to and from our facility, medical appointments, AA/NA meetings, mother-child visitations as part of the reunification process, etc.) and offering free childcare. Women also gain access to community parenting resources and classes. In order to address the wide range of client needs, we provide case management services and collaborate with several community agencies.

Access to childcare is one of the most common barriers to treatment for women, and we address this issue through our Early Learning Center (ELC), located in our main treatment and residential facility. While women are in treatment sessions and classes they know that their children are safe and well-cared for. The ELC is a welcoming and friendly space that serves as a lounge for mothers and as a classroom for infants and children up to age five, in accordance with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards (exceptions can be made for older children as needed). Read more

Our Approach

When women come to us we conduct a Substance Abuse Assessment (either in person or over the phone) and get their detailed history of substance use in order to determine the extent of services needed. Sometimes a mental status evaluation is also needed to determine if there are any co-existing mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. Taking clients’ mental stability into account is critical because substance abuse among women is closely linked to traumatic events, as opposed to men, where substance use is typically linked to dependency needs.

Many of our services, whether it’s therapy, skill-building classes, recovery education, relapse prevention, stress/trauma reduction workshops, etc., are provided in a group format. By working alongside each other, clients feel part of a larger group and less alone. Bonds are often created in our groups that help our clients build a new family – one that belongs to a strong recovery community.

We also provide individual and family counseling. Families of women in recovery have often lost trust due to the individual’s history with substance abuse. We work to reestablish this trust and rebuild healthy and strong relationships in order to create strong support networks.

Our Team

Dr. Lisa Ponichtera, PhD, LMFT, CSAC
Clinical Director

Lisa headshot 1 - CopyLisa grew up on Molokai and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Hawaii, Manoa and her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Argosy University. She has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Saybrook University and is a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Lisa has worked with women and families struggling with drug addiction since 2004 and conducted two qualitative studies comparing the lives of women struggling with methamphetamine dependence with women who were able to stop using methamphetamine. The studies also examined the role of spirituality in the process of addiction and recovery. Lisa has experience working with pregnant and parenting women, gender-specific substance abuse treatment, co-occurring disorders, cognitive behavioral therapy, humanistic therapy, strengths and evidenced-based practices as well as motivational interviewing.

Clinicians and Support Staff

The all-female Malama staff includes a dedicated and caring team of Certified Substance Abuse Counselors, Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, Program Assistants as well as a Childcare Provider, BabySAFE Program Coordinator and Office Manager.

All Program Assistants are trained in Managing Aggressive Behavior, Motivational Interviewing and Non-Violent Communication. There are currently two staff members, including the BabySAFE Program Coordinator, who are certified as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder educators. The Childcare Provider is trained in nicotine cessation and provides a class once a week for women who want to quit smoking.


Malama Family Recovery Center accepts most insurance plans. For women without insurance or who are unable to pay for services (or for programs in which insurance cannot be billed), we are proudly funded by the following:

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • Hawaii Department of Health — Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division (ADAD)
  • Hawaii State Judiciary
  • Maui County
  • Maui United Way
  • Private Foundations and Charities
  • Corporate Donors
  • Individual Donors

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