Windhorse is a method, a movement, a community, and a way of life.
—Edward M. Podvoll, MD, Founder of the Windhorse approach
Windhorse Integrative Mental Health is a nonprofit organization committed to providing mindfulness-informed, compassionate, team-based care to individuals experiencing life-disrupting psychiatric distress.
Our program is based on the Windhorse approach, which was first developed in 1981 by Dr. Edward M. Podvoll, M.D., the founding director of Naropa University’s Contemplative Psychotherapy program. Prior to his work in academia, he was the psychiatric director at several respected psychiatric hospitals, including Chestnut Lodge and Austen Riggs. Dr. Podvoll and his collaborators drew inspiration from the power of healing relationships emphasized in the psychoanalytic tradition, as well as contemplative teaching and practices from Buddhism, to create what is known as the Windhorse approach. The core concepts and values of the Windhorse approach are described in Recovering Sanity. Initially applied to a single client who was discharging from a psychiatric hospital in Boulder, Colorado, the approach has since been used throughout the world to help hundreds of individuals achieve sustainable recovery.
Windhorse Integrative Mental Health was founded in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1993 by Jeffrey and Molly Fortuna who worked extensively with Dr. Podvoll. After moving to the Berkshires, they met Connie Packard, the mother of the person who would become the nonprofit’s first official client. From Ms. Packard’s home, the three pulled together groups of compassionate and versatile individuals that would act as care teams for other clients. Over time, more Naropa-trained clinicians began migrating to Western Massachusetts to work at the Windhorse nonprofit, and it grew in both size and client capacity.
After almost two decades of helping clients experience profound recovery, the organization began exploring the idea of expanding its services to other areas of the country. Windhorse ultimately landed on the West Coast as a response to the dearth of residential programs that existed in this geographic area. With strong financial backing from a satisfied parent and passionate advocate for our work, our San Luis Obispo, California location was opened in 2010, followed closely by our Portland, Oregon location in 2016.
Windhorse Integrative Mental Health would not be what it is today without a few essential community members. Deeply indebted, we would like to thank the late Dr. Edward Podvoll for creating and disseminating the Windhorse approach, Jeffrey and Molly Fortuna for founding our nonprofit organization, Connie Packard and Sally Clay (parent and peer advocate respectively) for bringing the power of Trialogue (peers, professionals, family members being equally heard) into our work, former Board Member Cheryl Stevens for introducing to us the Peer Support model, and Marlow Hotchkiss with the Ojai Foundation for teaching us the way of Council (listening and speaking from the heart). We thank you.
Windhorse Integrative Mental Health, Inc. is a coalition of professionals, consumers, and family members committed to providing a comprehensive range of services to disturbed individuals and their families. Our treatment approach is based upon the recognition that significant recovery from major mental disturbances is possible when catalyzed by authentic therapeutic relationships in home settings. To promote recovery, each individual treatment program is designed to attend to the physical, social, mental, and spiritual aspects of the whole person.
We primarily serve persons suffering from life-disrupting mental states, along with their significant family members. Windhorse Integrative Mental Health, Inc. intends to disseminate knowledge gained in the course of this work through publications, training, and educational programs in the field of compassionate whole-person care. As a therapeutic community we are committed to the development and well-being of all members, as well as those groups with whom we collaborate.