Windhorse refers to a mythic horse that symbolizes a person’s internal strength to uplift oneself. It is literally an energy in the body and mind, which can be aroused in the service of healing an illness.
—Edward M. Podvoll, MD (Recovering Sanity, p. 224)
Our philosophy stems from the view that each person, regardless of their present
state of mind, possesses fundamental goodness and sanity.
Healing through Relationship
Windhorse is an innovative program that offers holistic, compassionate care for adults recovering from extreme mind states. Our clients live with dignity in a home environment in the larger community and are supported by mindfulness-informed clinical teams and therapeutic households. The integrative team—with the client at the center—enhances cohesion and awareness, avoiding the fragmentation often found in mental health care. Our teams help clients find their voice and shape their own direction. With the client sharing in decision-making on a dynamic team, rather than being institutionalized or pathologized, they are encouraged to discover a life of meaning that fits their unique path.
We work with people in teams to create a tailored approach for each individual but the therapeutic relationship is the foundation of the Windhorse approach. By offering genuine relationship, we invite people to relax into who they are authentically and to reconnect gradually to the world around them. These connections can offer a much-needed bridge to others and potentially heal the devastating loneliness that afflicts so many people. The team can become like respectful friends, who also have a therapeutic role. Instead of “I’m well, you’re sick and I’m going to fix you,” there’s a sense that “we are in this together.” This intimacy of mutual caring fosters bonds of human kinship similar to an extended family.
Our approach, known as Environmental Therapy recognize how environments impact us on every level—mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. While clients spend time outdoors, ‘environmental’ doesn’t necessarily mean being in the natural world. We value the importance of every environment and every aspect of daily life. This includes the household, the local community, the grocery store, the coffee shop—wherever we find ourselves throughout the day. In addition to paying attention to physical environments, we recognize the power and influence of interpersonal environments such as friendships or the relationship between parent and child. Over time, we work with each environment to support its unique healing qualities. Creating and nurturing healing environments make it possible for clients to draw on their own inner strength and create a life worth living.
Basic Attendance—The Essence
Basic Attendance is the heart of our approach and threads itself throughout every aspect of our work. An application of Contemplative Psychology and a Windhorse-coined term, it’s a compassionate, human-to-human way of being with another person. Deceptively simple, it’s “basic” because it includes activities in everyday life—from doing the dishes, to hiking, to having dinner and seeing a movie. Sharing time in this way offers companionship, moral support, and a bridge to feeling more at home in the wider world. “Attendance” describes a present and open awareness—a mindfulness—to whatever arises in oneself, in our relationships, and in the environment. Paying attention in this way invites the other person to be more present and fosters connection.
Basic Attendance is offered in shifts and can provide concrete help or simple companionship as the client faces tasks that may feel intimidating or even overwhelming. Routine occurrences like shopping for groceries become opportunities to connect and learn. Preferred activities that the client might typically do alone can be shared and enjoyed with a companion. Shifts are flexible and collaborative, shaped by the client’s needs and interests and the unique chemistry of the two people involved.