Our Clinical Approach
The Windhorse approach is organized around two central principles.
First, that each person is fundamentally healthy and sane and that a mental health challenges exists as a secondary overlay to that sanity.
Second, that a person’s health is inseparable from that of the environment. Therefore, if a person can be properly worked with in a relatively healthy environment, then the strength of their intrinsic health and sanity can emerge and recovery will be more possible.
The success of the Windhorse approach is due to the accurate treatment of a particular mental health challenge within a healthy and supportive environment. Particular challenges can include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, Asperger’s, autism, and dual diagnosis. We view a client’s environment as having three primary aspects:
- Their physical, domestic life,
- Interpersonal relationships and emotions, and
- Mind, which includes thoughts, attention, and the general sense of personal presence and meaning.
These three aspects relate directly to our three core therapeutic practices:
- Close attention to domestic activities: Both the therapeutic team and the client attend to the everyday workings of domestic life, including food preparation and cleanup, good diet, housekeeping, laundry, yard work, hygiene, finances, physical exercise, and other appropriate tasks. The client’s household is the focus of the team’s work.
- Establishment of healthy relationships: At first, the members of the therapeutic team provide the client’s primary relationships. Later, those relationships become a bridge for the client to establish healthy, ordinary contacts in the wider community.
- Stabilized schedule: Mental health challenges can disturb basic rhythms of eating, sleeping, rest, and activity. Restoring and stabilizing life rhythms through careful attention to daily living patterns is essential to recovery. By working closely with both the client and their environment, the whole situation becomes integrated. This integration promotes recovery and a clients’ sense of well being that undermine recovery and maximizes the client’s sense of security.
The essence of the clinical practice for integrating a person with his or her environment is “basic attendance.” This is a subtle combination of being with the person with the skill and understanding of a therapist and the warmth and empathy of a friend. It involves engaging with the person in ordinary activities of daily living. We provide support to the client in accomplishing difficult tasks, expanding into areas of interest, scheduling sane rhythms of activities, and furthering personal awareness. In some cases, basic attendance can be provided by a sole team member.
Coordination of communication among all Windhorse clinicians and outside service providers is carried out through regular team meetings. Family members are included as active collaborators throughout the treatment process so that our work is informed by them and they, in turn, are supported by us. Constant attention to collaborative learning among family members, the client, team members, and outside providers arouses the real spirit of the Windhorse work. We promote a client’s genuine recovery by the creation of a wholesome domestic environment, healthy relationships, and self-knowledge.