Transcription: Basic Attendance: Relationships That Invite Health TEAM COUNSELORS

*This podcast has been transcribed using a transcription software. Please excuse errors.

Lori: [00:00:06] Windhorse is our innate ability to uplift ourselves in our environment by giving rise to a positive energy that is both relaxed and disciplined. Since 1981, Windhorse Community Services has integrated this understanding with modern conventional therapies, meditation and contemplative traditions in the development of at home whole person mental health recovery. Windhorse Journal is dedicated to the mission of communicating decades of clinical and personal experience to professionals, educators, students and anyone seeking recovery options. Please join the dialog. [00:00:45][39.0]

Elysa: [00:00:50] Welcome to Windhorse Journal Entry 85: Basic Attendance Relationships That Invite Health, Team Counselor. This discussion provides an engaging look into the role of a team counselor on a Windhorse team Windhorse clinicians with a wide array of knowledge and experience invite us into their hearts and minds, offering their insights on mutual recovery, unconditional acceptance, client stories, poetry, and so much more. We hope you enjoy. [00:01:17][26.3]

Chuck Knapp: [00:01:21] Welcome to this podcast of the Windhorse Journal. I’m your host, Chuck Knapp. And this conversation is the fourth in our series on the clinical practice of basic attendance. Today, we’ll be discussing the role of a team counselor. And I’m so pleased to be joined today by this group of clinicians, all of whom have logged many miles in that role. Let me start with just a quick introduction of you all, Eirikur Baldursson, Windhorse, Community Member. For many years you’ve been in the role of housemate, also team counselor, and now you’re working on a number of teams as an assistant team leader. Skye Dowell, you you’ve been at Windhorse for around four years now. You had a long stint as a housemate, and now you’re working in the role as team counselor. Rebecca Diaz, you have been at Windhorse also for about three or four years and you have been a team counselor and team leader now. And Dave Dunlap, many years, you’ve done a housemate, team councilor as well as team leader, and you’re now in the process of training as an intensive psychotherapy. We have a real wide, nice range of experience and as I mentioned, an awful lot of experience as counselors in many teams. So you’ve got a lot of experience to draw on here as we go forth and talk about what we’re going to get into later. For starters, Skye, if you would, please share with us a quick overview of the Windhorse approach. So we give ourselves a little bit of perspective and vocabulary to start with. [00:03:06][105.3]

Skye Dowell: [00:03:08] 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 not diminished by confusion. So 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, home based, whole person recovery environments, which invite that person to sanity, health and balance. Full person means that we consider and include all aspects of a person’s life in the therapeutic process. Our environments are 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 minds and emotions. The primary way that we develop this environment is through relationship. Will often referred 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 really relatively stable minds. We actually experience health to be surprisingly contagious. So we create teams specific to each crime’s personality and interests in order to jumpstart their connection with ordinary, wholesome life activity. Things such as keeping their home in good order, developing healthy habits of eating, sleeping an exercise, engaging in their interests, and meeting people outside of the team which will often involve the greater Windhorse community, school and work. Another part of the power of our environment is that we bring together teams with a number of complementary roles involved, including the team councilors who spend the most time with the client in the midst of ordinary life activity. The client is also fully included as a team member. Likewise, families when possible and together we create a system of relationships that’s resilient and which can flexibly adapt as the recovery path evolves. The team and the environment that everyone creates is clearly a more powerful and intelligent therapeutic system than the sum of its parts. [00:05:51][163.7]

Chuck Knapp: [00:05:53] Thank you, Skye, for sharing that overview. I just want to note also that as you just said, that a team councilor spends the most time with the client in the midst of ordinary, everyday life. That is as part of the team that doesn’t live with the client. The housemate obviously spends the most time with people, but other than the housemate, this role is the one that you’re really engaged more in the world and then do longer periods of time than the other people. So Dave, would you please tell us about just kind of the basic activity of a team councilor? What is the role entails? [00:06:26][32.6]

Dave Dunlap: [00:06:28] So I think from kind of an objective lens, like, you know, logistically, typically you’re showing up for two, three hour shifts a week with a client and it can be in their home and the environment. Sometimes it’s showing up somewhere, making a plan, sometimes it’s planning ahead of time and showing up. But three hour shifts, that gives enough time to kind of get into the rhythm of of relationship with one another. And now isn’t always a good enough time to go shopping and make a lunch. But if you have 3 hours, you can you can do that. You go shopping, buy stuff, make lunch, make dinner, have a conversation and have a little downtime and engage in some activity. Also meeting in the team, meeting once a week to allow exploration and supervision and get support in the work that we’re doing. [00:07:20][52.0]

Chuck Knapp: [00:07:21] That’s great. To begin bringing this to life. Let’s start with the story. And Dave, you have something you’d like to share with us that gets to the in your experience, the heart of your work as a team councilor. [00:07:34][13.3]

Dave Dunlap: [00:07:36] Yeah. Thanks, Chuck. Just thinking about the long arc of experience with with a client I’ve had and how all the nuances of the work that we do have played out throughout the experience. And gosh, I think I’m not even sure how many years ago now. It was probably four or more years. When I first met this individual, I think often times when clients come to Windhorse, not all the time, but oftentimes they come to us kind of in a significant state of dysregulation, confusion. And so entry points, in my experience, have been sensitive. And I remember meeting this client outside of a local pizza shop. He was with the team leader and it was spring. And so I had my sunglasses on and I is still the weather where I wear my fedora. And almost immediately, like this client shied away from me, really backed off and started saying something about like, you know, manly man or something like that. And realizing, like, you know, even though I’m approaching with all this intention of really, you know, kind of being open and receptive to this person, my appearance was somewhat jarring. And so, you know, removing my glasses or moving my fedora or putting it off on the side and just kind of sitting down for a little bit then watching, you know, this individual relax, you know, is just a big indicator right off the bat of like the impact that I could have with a person, you know, without even thinking about it. I kind of settled in and we had our first shifts maybe the day after that introduction. And from the beginning it was a lot of spending time, you know, just kind of off, just kind of like tangential, just a little bit and behind a little bit aside as we walked around the neighborhoods in Boulder. You know, I think that the security of having me there, I could I could notice that, but not really wanting me to be to present. So I not a lot of room for me initially to the talk to ask questions but definitely felt like I was wanted in the space. And so we would walk around or we would go for drives. We’d drive around Boulder sometimes for what seemed like an excessive amount of time, but just kind of sharing space together at first and little, little experiences of them kind of requesting, Oh, can we go here or can you slow down or can we stop here and take this area? And and so just in my experience, it was a lot of. Getting comfortable with me as an individual. Is Dave a safe person? Is Dave going to let me be how I need to be right now? And so for me, it was a lot of just absorbing, a lot of taking it in and maybe dabbling in questions here and there, but but not getting too stuck on getting any answers. And, and, yeah, you know, with that patient kind of approach and with that acknowledgment of like their safety, which to me seems so paramount rather than me imposing some expectation or imposing some kind of outcome for any specific time, the outcome is really like creating safe space for one another. Pretty soon. You know, we started you know, I started hearing a little bit more from the client about like, you know, what was on their mind or what they were curious about and they start bouncing questions off of me. There’s more space open up for me to ask questions, to be a little more curious about what’s going on for them. And yeah, just noticing more laughter between us, like a buddy buddy kind of experience started to open up. There was more space for me to offer. Maybe my thoughts or my ideas about what would be fun or interesting to do and and watching, you know, the client enjoy changing things up a little bit and even commenting on that. I’m so glad you brought this up. I’m so glad we went to the park today and recognizing that, you know, that developing relationship and developing appreciation for one another as they opened up more and allowed more space for me to come into their into their world. You know, again, with the trajectories we have. You know, there’s going to be confusion. There’s going to be times that feel I would say maybe even like a step back, although it’s not it just feels that way. At least that’s the way I see it. But there was a there was a time with this client where they did get, again, pretty kind of disregulated. The confusion really kind of ramped up a bit. You know, probably call it like a hypomanic state and a lot of energy, but not a lot of focus. And in that, you know, they were pretty independent with their medications because they had been pretty consistent with them for years at this point. But they decided to take all their medications all at once and immediately contacted the the authorities as well. So that, you know, this is all happening outside of that the team. But we were notified pretty quickly, but the police were able to get this person from their apartment and get them to the hospital. And so the team later had gone over there and kind of settled things in. And and I got a call for the guy to shift coming up and explain the situation. And so for the next like two or three days, just spending all my shifts and what if I had some free time swing by the hospital and and spending time with them when they were unconscious at the time, it was a pretty significant amount of medication that was taken. And I think that, yeah, they just kind of gone into this unconscious state and so just watching them in bed and, you know, kind of the tubes and the sensors all hooked up and then watching their their breathing and and is feeling that, I don’t know, feeling this really sad but hopeful about the whole experience and and noticing like each day, you know, it’s nice to have, I think in these spaces like the little bit of contact I would have with the nursing staff because they could share with me the details are aware of like the vitals are improving, you know, breathing’s improving like things are looking better. And so that would help put me at ease. As I was sitting with the client, I remember, I think the last day before they woke up, the nursing staff was like, you know, things are looking really good. They’re probably going to wake up, you know, before tomorrow morning. But I knew I was the last person that was going to be in there in the hospital with them before tomorrow morning. And I really had this really this this moment of of feeling like, what would it be like to wake up in the hospital all alone after I imagine the last thing they consciously remember was a really distressing situation. And I knew I couldn’t sit there all night long, but I was trying to figure out something to do that might help be like just some awareness, a soothing kind of point of contact. And so I went down to the gift shop and bought this little stuffed horse and left it by the client, and they kind of rested in their arm. I don’t know if they even knew that I was the one that did that. So they never specifically said anything to me about it. Throughout the next coming months and years, I would see that horse either on their bed or on their couch. And sometimes when they were feeling really worked up and we were in their their apartment together, they’d have the horse and be holding it. And so it represented something. And I kept that to myself. Like I didn’t feel the need to necessarily say, Well, hey, that’s the horse I bought you. But it was it was nice to know that that had some impact, like what I was looking for, just to have some soothing point of contact. [00:15:11][455.6]

Skye Dowell: [00:15:15] While you were talking, Dave, I was just appreciating the vulnerability of. Being with somebody during a time in their life where they need support and like the intimacy that kind of comes with that. And just how over time that can form a pretty strong bond. [00:15:35][19.8]

Rebecca Diaz: [00:15:37] Yeah. Dave, I was thinking about how this is such a good example of, you know, the subtlety of this work. Just like doing all of these little things that are sometimes most of the time unnoticed, but are slowly altering the environment for the client, slowly altering their emotional space. You know, Max, and look like what you were talking about with providing this soothing. Animal for the client. But, you know, it happened slowly as like maybe the house gets cleaner, the dishes are getting done on time. There’s a schedule that gets implemented and these pieces that create safety and consistency that yeah, the changes are subtle, the different. [00:16:26][48.5]

Eirikur Baldursson: [00:16:28] I mean, this horse is sort of in some sense the highlight of the story. And sort of how you in a minute is a tremendous sort of a crisis for something very kind. And. And to do that sort of in the middle of all of that and be open to that coming to you, that idea, and then the horses there, you know, at the at the client’s house and and has a role. I just appreciate this sort of a connection between a sort of like a difficult situation but having this space for this detail in the middle of it. [00:17:12][43.9]

Chuck Knapp: [00:17:15] Yeah, that was really touching. Part of what I was curious about as you were telling the story and the evolution of your relationship to is how interactive sanity is in a certain way. Because I guess that as this was going on, you were starting to relax to. You are probably struggling a little bit in the beginning to relax yourself. And I maybe I’m projecting that on you, but I know for myself, usually when I’m meeting somebody in those situations, I’m a little tight, you know, and trying to figure out what’s going on here. Is was there an evolution of your own kind of relaxation as your interaction and feelings developed for each other? [00:17:56][41.3]

Dave Dunlap: [00:17:58] Yeah, absolutely. I think I try to just step into these situations with as much relaxation as I can muster, but there is uncertainty. And uncertainty for me breeds a little bit of apprehension and and caution in getting to know somebody who is in a kind of confused state like. I remember very early on, like their behaviors were risky. You know, sometimes they would act out certain kind of, I guess, what internal, internal experiences they were having, where they would act them out somatically and they’d be like lunging at saying dinner or walking precariously close to the road. And so there was this part of me was like, how do I learn to trust that this person is going to be safe when I’m with them, you know, for themselves? I didn’t have a lot of. Concern for my own safety. But just like, can I hold a campaign with this individual for me to learn to trust that these things weren’t going to go, that next step took a little while. And so, yeah, there was definitely a relaxation on myself and and also that apprehension of will I ever be affected? Will I be safe? And one of the things that I, I forget, I think it’s a kind of combination of Skye and Rebecca that some things that you said of in those moments I was trying to think about like, what has this person’s experience been thus far with strangers? Like, I can’t imagine they feel very well accepted by people who don’t understand who they are and imagine oftentimes feel like they’re expected to to change their experience, which is probably incredibly difficult when you’re in such a confused state, but like how much they’ve been asked to be anything else but what they want to be. And so trying to trust and allow them to be themselves for a while and show that I can hold space for that. But also learning in myself to hold space for myself, I can relax. CHUCKLING What you’re saying, all of that was present at the beginning. [00:19:52][114.1]

Rebecca Diaz: [00:19:56] There’s something in what you’re saying, Dave, about proximity, maybe. You know, the client being witnessed or. Categorizing it in a certain way in society and maybe other people don’t get close because of that. And then you finding a space. Or just kind of holding the space long enough for the relationship to develop, which is kind of what is there beyond whatever’s happening outwardly, you know, whatever that looks like, the behaviors or how society is viewing this person. And when you get when you get so close, when you can relax into the relationship, that kind of dissolves a little bit or it’s so welcome that it’s not a problem. It’s fundamentally okay. There’s something in that. It makes me think of unconditional love or presence. And I mean, even though it might take some time, you know, for me before, like feelings of. Of care for a client deep into sort of like an unconditional love. I personally consider it a gift to be able to offer that that presence where a client can just be exactly where they’re at. Without having to to change or fit to be more acceptable in whatever way they might perceive that people want that. Yeah. It feels like a gift to be able to provide that. [00:21:43][106.7]

Dave Dunlap: [00:21:46] But as you say, the gift, the peace Skye, I’m remembering times where I felt gifted as well and providing that like being out in the certain public spaces and part of me really wanting them to show up differently, you know, the way they’re presenting as we’re walking down past and what they’re saying to the people who are passing by. And part of me is like, Oh, I don’t how do I like, how do I accept that I’m here with this person doing this? I’m learning to. Think about my like what’s getting in my own way of just being okay with how things are and. And then recognizing sometimes in my experience of them is they have been unapologetically courageous just out there in the world and showing up how they want to. And I think recognizing all the times in my life that I haven’t done that and like learning through witnessing this and watching how people responded, like usually people responded a lot more openly and deceptively than I anticipated they would. And so to see that, oh, I can I can show up a little bit more courageously in myself. I don’t have to shy away so much in finding my own kind of appreciation of just, you know, being unapologetically me, maybe to a different degree, but still recognizing that kind of mutual path with them. Like, Oh, I get to learn a little bit of something about being courageous also. [00:23:14][87.4]

Eirikur Baldursson: [00:23:16] Yeah. I think there is some kind of a trust that there’s space in the middle of any situation and. I’ve been with clients of sorts Eunice joints where where, you know, there was just like a client just constantly honking very loudly to itself to sitting in a boot booth in a restaurant or standing up and walking around. So. Something of a trust, just trusting also other people. Just trust, trusting something. Someone do something humane. You know that there’s actually some beautiful, beautiful happening in some kind of way. It’s just how that person is expressing themselves. And I also think about sort of what we do as Tim considers, you know, basic ending. And when I was someone in that situation, I mean, when it comes to the opening to someone of a surprise and constantly letting go of something in oneself, of a judgment or this has to be this way or this has to be that way, and then but then at the same time, one is also attending, one is also aware. And sometimes one has to make decisions. You know, I was once with his clients in his restaurant, and I went many times because at some point I just had to sort of decide that it was good just to step out and take a walk. [00:24:43][86.5]

Chuck Knapp: [00:24:45] It’s really interesting listening to you all talk about. The process of entering into a relationship with someone in this in this zone, someone who comes to us for some kind of health recovery, some some kind of change to move their life into a place that maybe is more where they want it to be, where they will. They’ll feel more happy and less confused. And and it takes a huge amount of courage to do that, actually. And Dave, you were talking about the kind of actually relaxation and the courage it takes you to open up to them as well. The relationship is really happening and I think there’s a bunch of different ways the teams work together and the glue happens that helps someone to to sustain the kind of tumult sometimes and intensity of a recovery process. But you all are talking about this and really, I think interesting way. And Skye, what you brought up about the feelings of love. People oftentimes in therapeutic conversations don’t name that so much, but. It’s there. And there’s something about the quality of us as people. The client isn’t less than us. We’re not better than them. We’re all people and we do different things. But you all are kind of touching on it. Does anybody have another story or thing they’d like to refine to around this? [00:26:11][85.5]

Rebecca Diaz: [00:26:14] Yeah. Something that I was thinking about as you were talking was also these moments when a client opens up or when there’s a kind of a break in their confusion and they can see me and. I had this experience pretty early on when I served with Windhorse with a client who is pretty young, like maybe like late twenties, early thirties, and, you know, just having kind of their first psychotic break and hearing hearing voices and the voices were violent and attacking. And a lot of the time I spent with this client was, you know, just kind of in dialog with him as he was into dialog with his voices. And and there was at some point, I’m not sure what it was. I just have this thought that we needed to move, you know, like, you know, we talk a little bit at Windhorse about body mind synchronization. And, you know, it was very clear he was disregulated and experiencing a lot of mental distress. So we went on a hike and and I was like moving my body, like, as fast as I could up the mountain. And I don’t usually move fast. I do everything slow. But this, you know, is a pretty athletic, young male. And and the whole time and up the mountain, he was, you know, just complete in dialog the whole time. And we got to the top and there was a pretty big, expansive view. And we sat down at the top of the mountain and he looked at it. He was just like looking around. He stopped, everything stopped, the voices stopped. There was like such stillness. And he was like, Wow, this is a beautiful view. And then he turned around and looked at me and said, How are you? And it was like the first time in several weeks that he’d even noticed maybe that I was there just being so. Caught in the confusion. And yeah, it was just a I don’t know, it’s a really special moment to have with them up there. Like something in his body. Like his body had moved fast enough to catch up with his mind and then something to take a break. [00:28:52][158.4]

Dave Dunlap: [00:28:54] What you’re saying. Rebecca reminds me of a history I’ve had with a few clients as well, where when there’s a break in the confusion and it seems like there’s a certain relief of having somebody else nearby to say, Hey, how are you? And there’s a certain appreciation of, Oh, I get to get in contact with somebody else. Sometimes that means sitting quietly again, like alongside or somebody for a while as as they go through their process. But knowing that, like in those little moments when they when there’s clarity or or whatever it might be that they have somebody to touch in with, you know, rather than being alone in that space, I find that that oftentimes leads to some really fun conversations. Goofiness, I think, arises in some of my experiences there. It’s like, Oh, let’s, let’s laugh together. [00:29:42][47.6]

Rebecca Diaz: [00:29:45] I think we started to pick up rocks and throw them at a tree like it was. It was very playful. Yeah. That moment where he asked how you were. Makes me think of, like, the difference between a therapist and a team counselor or a basic attenders. It is more like therapeutic friendship where they’re not there to meet your needs or support you. But at the same time, there can be this back and forth friendship aspect where in my experience I definitely share a lot more about my personal world and thoughts and feelings than I would in a therapist role for sure. [00:30:33][48.7]

Eirikur Baldursson: [00:30:36] I think this is sort of interesting topic this. Law was brought up. I mean, I think it’s sort of like sharing oneself and one’s own humanity just because someone else. And sharing be with. I’m just myself as who I am having lived my whole life. But also not to demand something. You know, you do not have sort of idea what so how someone should be or what recovery is or or what health is and then. That is moments to verity or moments of openness. These two just happened by themselves. I mean, it happens all the time being with someone in a very small little things. You know, I have a client that likes to himself all the time. It’s really caught up in these voices. And then you take a walk and then just suddenly something. We noticed something. And I used to point out things. Beautiful clouds or, you know, this is kind of nice to see the child play on tricycles. But but now that change is starting to point to out to me. So it’s sort of a sometimes goes the other way around, you know, that I might be caught up in my thoughts, in my daydreams as we walk. And then that client or that person or that friend, I don’t know what to call them. Will. Just point out something beautiful. [00:32:10][93.8]

Rebecca Diaz: [00:32:13] Eirikur, you bring up. One of the reasons that I love this work so much is that we get to be in so many different environments, you know, like if inside is it’s too much, we can go outside. If outside it’s too much, we can go off into the woods, you know, or, you know, have dinner. Like the environment really does impact the relationship and the ability to connect. And I yeah, it’s like that is such a gift. [00:32:45][31.6]

Eirikur Baldursson: [00:32:46] Yeah. It’s sort of a thousand fold. I mean, there’s just no limit to it, to what one could experience every moment being with someone. And just like when I’m in my own life with myself, what makes me sane in my life, you know? What do I appreciate about my life? Or there could be some very simple experiences or something very simple. So it’s really not about. Changing someone or changing the circuit to get some kind of a sense of being just in life and being okay. And then there’s something good about that. [00:33:21][34.6]

Chuck Knapp: [00:33:23] Eirikur, what you were just saying about learning as we go along in relationship and employee autonomy a long time ago that so many of my clients are so much more intelligent and sensitive than I am, but they’re not necessarily operating efficiently in the world that something something is kind of out of. You know, they’re out of sync with how they’re how they are on the world and they’re not swimming in consensus reality, which may sound weird, but R.D. Laing the famous psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, he had said once that basically people that get absorbed in extreme states, they’re very similar to people in mystical states of mind. It’s just that the mystics know how to swim and the folks in extreme states often drown. So I think a big part of our work is to help people learn to be who they are. US accepting them for who they are has certainly been a theme all through this. And it’s certainly. Accurate in my experience of doing this work and then then how to be in the world and live in the world so that they’re not constantly being kind of hit with the various rejections and stigmas and othering that goes on for people who who who get into extreme states. And, and part of, I think, the efficacy of what we do. Rebecca you were just talking about, which is working in different environments. So we go, there’s the house environment. There’s going out for coffee or whatever there is. There’s all kinds of different ways that we move through the world and we do this with our client in basic attendance. And in those environments, we through relationship and our awareness, interactive awareness, we both create some way that people learn to attune to how to be in the world more together. And we do we learn together at the same time. I’m curious, I just said a lot there, but if any of you have any reactions to what I’m saying here. [00:35:28][125.0]

Skye Dowell: [00:35:30] I guess I could say the working as a team counselor has definitely made me more aware of how different environments make me feel. I worked with a client in the past that like to go. Two places where a lot of college students like to hang out. Sort of like party environments. And I noticed, you know, there was a certain like energy there, a certain kind of young party energy. And yeah, I mean, it definitely made me reflect more like on the purpose of the shift in basic attendance and whether or not it was something that was supportive for the client. And, you know, it led to a discussion between me and the team and the client about not only like what’s supportive to the client, but what’s supported to me. Like, if I feel uncomfortable in a situation or in an environment, how does that impact the client? And does it? [00:36:30][59.9]

Chuck Knapp: [00:36:33] What did you figure out about the college scenes? [00:36:36][2.5]

Skye Dowell: [00:36:38] I think for me in the end, because in those environments, for me it created a kind of internal tension because I know that one of our goals at Windhorse is to be present and aware, and the party atmosphere sort of conflicted with the kind of presence that I was trying to offer on the shift. So in the end, I actually ended up asking the client if we could not have shifts in that environment anymore. So and so it kind of led to this whole situation where I was required to set a boundary. There could have been some like conflict between me and the client there, but I think in the end it led to us being closer in a sense, because I was speaking to my needs and being transparent. [00:37:30][52.1]

Chuck Knapp: [00:37:32] How about as you get to know a person over time and you think about jumpstarting their interests in life? And so oftentimes, you know, a person who comes to us is, you know, they may have been in school or had disciplines and activities that they really had connection to in an earlier part of their life. And that may have and may have been interrupted. And oftentimes when we put a team together, we’ll be thinking about, say, if if the person coming to us, the client is is has artistic interests or musical interests, we oftentimes we try to tailor the teams in such a way that there would be people like team councilors, for instance, who may have artistic. Experience. And from there, there’s that there’s this, I think oftentimes jump starting quality that can that can happen along with what you were talking about earlier. Eric, we’re about we bring all of who we are to these situations and into our relationship. You know, when you’re with somebody two or 3 hours at a time, you don’t have the same kinds of boundary that you do in an in office therapy situation. You have to mix mix it up more precisely with care. But but you have to mix your own life and more to the basic tenants experience. And so creating environments that help jumpstart a person’s health and interests and connections to themselves and to the environment. I’m curious how that sounds to you, if that makes sense in your experience. [00:39:05][92.9]

Eirikur Baldursson: [00:39:07] You know, what comes to me is there’s something of a mutual attraction that can happen. And I feel that I find very important in his work that I might get interested also in something that the client is interested in. [00:39:18][10.9]

Chuck Knapp: [00:39:19] Yes. Yes. [00:39:20][0.8]

Eirikur Baldursson: [00:39:21] And if that happens. So always. I mean I mean I mean, there’s always something about someone else, you know, that that I could be interested in or am interested in or could develop. Interesting. It could be something that I’m already and then, you know, it could be we we watch something together. It could be in philosophy or religion or music or or, you know, science or or they could be something that your client knows that that I might want to know more about. But I have a client as well interested in basketball. And I’ve never been much interested in sports. And and I was sitting there maybe times watching basketball sort of want to they interested and I started to develop interest in it and and I find basketball now very, very interesting and enjoyable to watch. It could be anything, you know, it could also just be interesting. So how someone. Not their hair. Or what they find funny. Or how they. Appreciate their meal. But but just basically speaking that sort of a sense of I’m being attracted to something in someone else and then maybe I can be fearless of having them being attracted to something in me. And let them display themselves. [00:40:43][82.1]

Skye Dowell: [00:40:45] I think I have an example of this. I was, you know, asked to be on a team because I like to write. And this client also had expressed some interest and passion for writing. And so we met and, you know, seemed to have a connection. And so I joined the team and the connection over writing was not happening, did not happen. So yeah, it really took a long time are just doing like pretty mundane things. Before this client invited me to play a video game, it was a computer game and I don’t I don’t play video games, but it was the way that we did this thing together, the way that she, you know, would walk me through, like, teach me the game. And then at some point we were able to play together as equals, where we had to negotiate the story and the movements and the actions and, you know, work together to it to complete each game. And that’s where our relationship started to happen. And and in that experience, I think I kind of recognized also that what you’re saying, Eric, for just being curious and not grabbing on to things, but just like allowing myself to be curious and open and then that happens in return because, you know, while we’re playing this game, she started to ask me questions about school or about my life or what had for dinner. I think that’s a really sweet example of what you’re talking about. [00:42:24][99.4]

Skye Dowell: [00:42:28] Yeah, I mean it I love that you both mentioned allowing that space the client to just. Explore their natural curiosity because I think for me, working as a team counselor has been a big learning experience in trusting a person’s natural wisdom when it comes to their recovery and their own pace of that. It’s just not something that you can control. And a lot of times it seems like. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting the client to be interested in certain subjects or show up in a certain way. Like the team. They really think it would be really great if the client could start volunteering at a certain place. For me, this is like the mutual recovery piece comes. Then when I’m able to take a step back and say the client may know what they need more than more than I do. It’s their recovery. And if they want to build a fun house out of cardboard boxes, I’m like, Let’s do it. [00:43:38][70.4]

Chuck Knapp: [00:43:41] There’s so many really interesting things that I’ve learned about with my clients over the years. But part of what grabs me, I think, is, is people’s passion for things. So, you know, if I can relax enough and help a person relax into who they are, their passion starts to show up. And that kind of basic energy is so much of the bedrock of what drives recovery, you know, like the ability to kind of find your energy Windhorse energy, actually, that that kind of life force and confident ability to connect to the world. Just that I love that part of this kind of work. Let me ask a question. I’m kind of thinking about what do you all think is the most helpful thing you do as a team counselor? [00:44:25][44.7]

Skye Dowell: [00:44:27] I mean, I think people often don’t recognize, like, how powerful the presence of somebody who is actively working on themselves and is emotionally regulated can be. And I think like. When we take on the role of team counselor, that’s kind of like what we’re committing to do is to to be as best we can because it is mutual recovery, but to be that presence in in other people’s lives. And so it’s both inspiring for me to continue to work on myself and hopefully, I mean, I believe makes a positive impact on the client. [00:45:11][44.8]

Chuck Knapp: [00:45:14] Would you say just a little bit more about mutual recovery, what that is? [00:45:18][3.1]

Skye Dowell: [00:45:19] I guess for me it’s just the way that working with a client both brings up issues for me that I can and will continue to work on. And at the same time, like I’m being present for the client while they’re working on their own issues. [00:45:40][20.7]

Chuck Knapp: [00:45:43] So nicely put. Anyone else have any more on that mutual recovery? [00:45:47][4.0]

Eirikur Baldursson: [00:45:48] I mean, I think for me, it’s just to to share myself in my own humanity. And I mean, I’m on my path and I have my struggles and, you know, and the boundary between mental health and illness is, you know, it’s not to opposite poles. So, you know, they’re very interrelated. You know, a mental illness or imbalance can be a reflection of the health, you know, that wants to break through or is stifled. So there’s a lot to share, you know, that you know, there’s a lot for me to be attracted to and learn and appreciate in someone else. And then I can also share myself in a way that that’s healthy. And so that’s the mutual recovery in many ways. [00:46:37][48.8]

Skye Dowell: [00:46:39] Skye, I think you gave a pretty good example of that when you were talking about your client and setting the boundaries of not going into the party spaces. And I think so much of for me, the mutual recovery comes in in the form of boundaries. You know, when to set a hard boundary, when to set a loving boundary, you know, and when to have subtle boundaries and modeling that in a way that we stay in relationship with each other rather than break apart, which can happen a lot. [00:47:12][32.3]

Eirikur Baldursson: [00:47:14] It’s sort of interesting. So. So we talked about the attraction and Rebecca’s bringing in boundary. You know, mutual recovery could also be enrichment. The more I work for Winters as a team councilor is also just someone to to tell someone else that they’re good or what I appreciate about them actually tell them about it. And they could tell me what they appreciate about me. And it’s very interesting. So so a mutual enrichment will also come in here. And and, of course, also the initial recovery of just holding the space and just sort of not reacting to anything. [00:47:53][39.1]

Chuck Knapp: [00:47:55] Yeah, I did go to so many things that are being said. One of the things in addition for me is. Like removing the kind of authoritative role that oftentimes caregiving or therapy and being a therapist can have as a as a team counselor. It’s so equal and we learn from one another. And mutual recovery is about being open to one another. For me and so and so. Not seeing myself as the. The provider of all wisdom, the provider of all recovery, but like paying attention to like, oh, my God, I can learn so many things, you know, like Chuck, you’re talking about like waking up the passions and Erica are like you’re talking about like learning from, from clients like that’s mutual recover. To me, it’s like it’s like, how are we in this space as equals? And what do I learn about myself and about the world through you? As I’m equally hoping that you’re learning and. And discovering through me. [00:48:55][59.5]

Eirikur Baldursson: [00:48:57] Of course mutual recovery is to have humor together also. That is hugely important. [00:49:02][5.6]

Chuck Knapp: [00:49:06] I think all of what you’re describing, the sense of mutuality and creating an atmosphere of learning that we’re all curious and learning together, that interactive quality is so human and inviting our. Kind of personal discovery of the best parts of ourselves forward. I think you’re doing it all, doing a really nice job of describing different aspects of that. All of what we’ve been discussing throughout this time, we often refer to as relational medicine. The basic attendance and forming relationships with people that come to us as a way of helping them move a recovery path and engage and move a recovery path along. And Rebecca, you’ve you’ve written a really lovely piece here on Relational Medicine, so if you would please read that for us, I think it would be really a nice way to wrap up. [00:50:05][59.1]

Rebecca Diaz: [00:50:07] This is a poem that I wrote inspired by. I work as a team counselor with clients. The poem is called The Space in Between or Some Notes on Relational Medicine. “But as long as you remember what you’ve seen, then nothing is gone.” – Leslie Marmon Silko. The medicine is in us, my friend. You born of natural wisdom, a misfit and a rebel to a fully functional society. I wonder what to say to you often. Fumbling with the desire to wake you. Taking in the grief for the obstacles growing inside you. Who will usher their arrival? Who’ll be there to receive them. Walk beside you as they manifest. Breath by breath. This is a labor of sorts. You and I sit long and it’s qualities of confusion. You invite me to greet its way of making meaning? I hold this in regard broken hearted. Then take it in as my own. Learn to love it like a potted plant. Feed it the food of relationship. A shared bowl of French fries. Winding drives through mountain peaks. Whispers from unseen voices. The kind of gaze that reaches other worlds. Clearing out old sardine cans. Building a small beaver dam, two crows circling overhead. Could I say this to you? Share the imprint. You’re leaving. This is not a care I’ve known before. It is uniquely unfolding, revealing itself in the way you run low to the ground and sweep in fast. The way you sling wide open like windows and slam shut in the slightest gust transparent, heavy, cool, steady and along the path, even as a presence befuddles your iron will and tenderness. You are earth, hibiscus and dogwood. You walk this world sensitive feeling, the subtleties of the wind as it breaks against our backs. We run like children starting and stopping to tell a story or break open milkweed pods spreading seeds all along this path. We launched a slate of ideas in the woods and then sit beside the creek searching for words that fit you, taking in deep sighs when one is found. Watching you wake to the art of connection is a gift. My young friends. I value the seat beside your wildness. Take my shoulder while we’re here. Memorize the body’s standing at your back as obstacles come and go. Remember this place where we held cold stones and contemplated their shape? Where you willingly lent yourself to my path and to yours. The two of us easing and growing from the space in between. [00:53:18][190.4]

Chuck Knapp: [00:53:23] Thank you, Rebecca. Thank you all so much. It’s been a real honor to be here today with you all. [00:53:29][6.6]

Lori: [00:53:40] Thank you for listening to Windhorse Journal Entry 85. Please visit our website at to read a copy of Rebecca’s poem and an upcoming article on the team counselor role. We hope you tune in next month for a continuation of this series on basic attendance relationships that invite help. Our next episode will host a conversation with a group of long term Windhorse clinicians and their experiences within the role of a team leader. The Windhorse Journal can be found on YouTube, Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Windhorse Journal is a publication of Windhorse Community Services supporting recovery from mental health challenges at home and in the community since 1981. [00:53:40][0.0]