In this episode, you will hear Team Counselor and musician Conner Hollingsworth talk through an experience of a basic attendance shift with a Windhorse client. While every basic attendance shift is unique, Conner’s narrative brings forth many of the themes and principles that guide our work. These include being present with the client, listening fully to the circumstance at hand, and being willing to bring one’s full self to the relationship.
Here, Conner opens himself up to collaborating musically with the client as a bridge to developing a greater sense of interpersonal connection. Music becomes a way for Conner to join the client’s world, and better understand the client’s mind, creativity, and comfort zone. It also becomes a way for Conner to anchor himself and stay grounded within the client’s environment. As Team Leader Jeremy Ellis points out in this episode, by opening himself up to fully entering the client’s world, Conner is able to listen to his own experience. And from inside of their collaboration, Conner makes suggestions that might allow both of them to ground and recalibrate. He doesn’t attempt to control the client or situation. Rather, it is through listening to his own experience that Conner models ways of taking care of himself, which the client, in turn, likely benefits from as well.
What inspires me most about Basic Attendance and the Windhorse approach to mental health recovery is its commitment to relational medicine. It is through connection with others and ourselves that we make space for healing. This means that we do not attempt to override our clients’ world views, desires, or priorities. Instead, we look for what might be possible from within the current circumstance that they find themselves.
I hope you enjoy the episode. It captures the quality of attention, thinking, presence and investment we bring to our work.
Laura Ann Samuelson
**This is the second of a 14 part series that will dive into basic attendance on a Windhorse Team. Throughout this series, we will have conversations with staff members representing each of the roles at Windhorse Community services. This first recording provides a general overview of Basic Attendance and relational medicine.
Laura Ann Samuelson, MA, has worked as a team counselor at Windhorse Community Services and as a basic attendant at Windhorse Elder Care since June 2021. They hold an MFA in Dance from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and are currently an artist-in-residence at RedLine Contemporary Art Center in Denver. They are also a certified practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method®, a form of somatic education that helps individuals find a greater sense of skeletal connection, ease, and freedom in movement.
Jeremy Ellis is a Team Leader & Assistant Team Leader at Windhorse Community Services. He began his journey at WCS as a housemate in 2015. He enjoys a variety of contemplative and creative practices and is currently obsessed with his new instantpot.
Conner Hollingsworth, MA, moved from Chicago to Boulder in 2014 in order to pursue a Master’s in music at the University of Colorado. At that time he began a nearly 2 year tenure as a housemate with WCS and has since moved on to Team Counselor and Assistant Team Leader roles. The philosophy and contemplative approach of WCS has proven to be a thoroughly harmonious counterpoint to his parallel career as a freelance musician. When Conner is not performing with symphony orchestras and jazz ensembles throughout the front range he enjoys exploring the spectacular hiking oppotunities that the nearby landscape offers.
Kathy Emery, MA, LP, is a graduate of the Naropa University’s East/West Psychology program in 1980 and has been actively working with the Windhorse approach to treatment and care of individuals since its inception in 1981 as Maitri Psychological Services. She currently is employed with Windhorse Elder Care and Windhorse Community Services as a Team Supervisor and Psychotherapist for both organizations. She also is a Senior Teacher of the approach and feels a lifelong commitment to bringing the Contemplative view and practice of care and therapy into her work with individuals and groups as well as through her teaching and writing.
Jack Gipple, MA, LPC, CAC III is the Clinical Services Manager of Windhorse Community Services (WCS), in Boulder Colorado. He earned his MA in Transpersonal Psychology in 1991. He has worked extensively with families, couples, and individuals dealing with issues related to behavioral and substance addictions, as well as a wide range of mental health challenges. He taught in the Naropa Contemplative Psychology Department for a decade and has been affiliated with the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless since 1992. Jack co-authored an article with Chuck Knapp “Windhorse Treatment: Group Dynamics Within Therapeutic Environments,” in Group: The Journal of the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society. He has studied and taught T’ai Chi Ch’uan since 1985. He is a top-bar bee keeper, pinhole photographer, yogi, gardener, home orchardist, father, and husband.