Welcome to part five of our series on the clinical practice of Basic Attendance. In this podcast you’ll hear a playful discussion between some very seasoned current and former Team Leaders—Jamie Emery, Lindsay Wolf, Art Ginley, and Kim Emmert—ranging from how they understand the essence of what they do to sharing stories about working with their clients—all conveying the heart medicines of team leadership.
If you’ve been following these discussions, by now you’re getting a good look at the progressive set of skills involved with each team role. Beginning with the Housemate, their work is mostly oriented toward creating earth: a friendly, healthy relationship with the client in a warm and ordinary household. The Team Counselors—while being an integral, hands-on part of creating that good-enough household—are also flexibly extending the medicine of relationship beyond the home environment and out into the world. And while the Team Leaders also enjoy a significant Basic Attendance relationship with the client, their awareness simultaneously makes a big leap to include the environment as a whole. Along with the Intensive Psychotherapists and Team Supervisors, Team Leaders are attending to the health of everyone involved–and particularly to making sure the machinery of the team is working—creating harmony with schedules and the various logistics that keep a team humming.
As those of us who worked closely with Ed Podvoll (primary founder of the Windhorse Approach) knew, he was convinced that one of the most significant innovations of the Windhorse Approach was in the creation of the Team Leader role. Such a person must be clinically experienced, while holding a common-sense, do-what’s-needed kind of flexibility in order to help bring a path of recovery to life. Tune into this conversation and you’ll get a glimpse of why Ed—after 40 years of working with people in extreme states—came to this conclusion.
I hope you enjoy our conversation,
Creating Environments That Invite Health And Sanity
The Windhorse Approach is health based, meaning that we understand all people to be fundamentally sane, and inclined to return to health and balance when the right conditions are present. In this view, confusion, or extreme mental states, or some use the term mental illness, are temporary obstacles, more like clouds that may obscure the brilliance of the sun. But just as the sun is never diminished by clouds, likewise our sanity is never diminished by confusion; it’s always there as our deepest ally. We know that this can really sound like wishful thinking, but it’s actually our experience–both personally as well as with our clients and families.
At its most basic level, the Windhorse approach is characterized by creating individually tailored, whole person recovery environments, which invite a person’s health and sanity. Our environments are home based–grounded in their physical and domestic world, we cultivate open and healthy relationships, and of course we work to help our clients clarify and understand their mind and emotions. And whole person means that we consider and include all aspects of a person’s life in the therapeutic process.
The primary way that we develop this environment, is through relationship—we’ll often refer to Windhorse as relational medicine, as we know that when a person is experiencing mental confusion or distress, it’s almost always helpful to be in the midst of people with healthy lifestyles and relatively stable minds. We actually experience health to be surprisingly contagious, so we create teams specific to each client’s personality and interests, in order to jump start their connection with ordinary, wholesome life activity—things such as keeping their home in good order, developing healthy habits of eating, sleeping, and exercise, engaging in their interests, and meeting people outside of the team, which will often involve the greater Windhorse Community, school, and work. And a big part of the effectiveness of our approach is that we’re not trying to make our clients into someone they’re not—we’re actually supporting them to be the most integrated and harmonious version of who they most basically are.
Another aspect of the power of our environments is that we have a number of complementary roles involved; starting with the housemate, who’s a staff person living in the therapeutic household; the team counselors, who spend time with the client in the midst of ordinary life activity; the team leaders, who organize the
activity of the team; the psychotherapist, who meets with the client usually twice per week; and the team supervisor who attends to the overall activity of the team—including working with the family. If medications are used, a psychiatrist is also an integrated part of the team. Naturally, the client is fully included as a team member–likewise families whenever possible–all of us creating a system of relationships that’s a more powerful and intelligent therapeutic system than the sum of its parts; resilient and flexibly adapting as the recovery path evolves; inviting recovery and growth for everyone involved.
Read a transcription of this podcast here
Lindsay Wolf, MA, LPC received her Masters Degree in 2010 from Naropa University in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Art Therapy. She has worked in the therapeutic field since before graduating from Naropa, and has been at Windhorse for 11 years. Her involvement at Windhorse has included roles as Team Counselor, Team Leader, and Intensive Psychotherapist, along with facilitating groups in Community Programs and holding seats on councils and committees that have worked towards the betterment of Windhorse in many capacities. She also maintains a private practice, serving children and adults.
Kim Emmert MA, LPC (she/her) has worked at Windhorse Community Services for almost seven years. During this time, she’s been a housemate, team counselor, assistant team leader, team leader and she’s currently in training for the intensive psychotherapy role. Kim is also a psychotherapist in private practice, a coach and a Biodynamic Craniosacral therapist.
Kim’s adult life has been focused on service to others and her goal is to support each individual with humility, integrity and deep care. Her varied life experience has given her a compassionate understanding of the challenges of living that so many people are struggling with and also a positive and creative perspective on what’s possible in any life.
Kim is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Colorado, and has a MA degree in Mindfulness Based Transpersonal Counseling from Naropa University in Boulder Colorado (2019). She is also a certified Evolutionary Power Coach, a certified Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist (2012), and a Yoga Alliance certified yoga instructor (2007)
Jamie Emery, MA, LPC is a graduate of Naropa University, has been working in the Windhorse Approach for over 33 years. He is a co-founder of Windhorse Community Services, a retired co-director, and is currently an active clinician and shareholder. Jamie was also a founding member of Windhorse Family and Elder Care (now Windhorse Elder Care), and was the Chair and faculty member of Naropa’s Contemplative Psychology Master’s Program, as well as being a faculty member of their Gerontology and Long Term Care Management Program. Last, and certainly not least, Jamie had the privilege of being a founding member of the nonprofit, Windhorse Guild, where he continues to serve on the Board of Directors.
Art Ginley, MA, LPC is a Team Leader at Windhorse and has a private practice working with complex trauma, attachment and chronic illness. Art grew up in Colorado and volunteered as a ski patroller and worked with foster children and adults with developmental disabilities before coming to Windhorse. He joined the Peace Corps after graduating from college and spent four years in Kazkahstan and Israel before returning to the US and deciding to become a therapist. During his travels he developed symptoms of chronic illness and came to recognize the impact of other physical, emotional and spiritual traumas on his life and relationships. Now through his experiences as a psychotherapist and as a team member on Windhorse teams, as well as his background in emergency medicine and traditional martial arts, Art works to support people in developing more understanding about themselves and their relationships to be able to find more meaning in dealing with whatever challenges life may throw at them.