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Windhorse is an innovative therapeutic means for individuals to better understand and recover from extreme mind states (i.e. often labeled as “depression”, “bipolar”, “anxiety”, “schizophrenia”.). We use a community approach to recovery for individuals living with psychiatric distress. We offer apartment living with a housemate, supported by a therapeutic team, rather than institutional living.

Our Story

The Windhorse model was originally developed in the late 1970’s by Dr. Ed Podvoll and a group of his graduate students in the contemplative psychotherapy program at Naropa University. Podvoll and his students created an alternative therapeutic environment for one of Podvoll’s psychiatric patients who had been floundering, over-medicated, in the local hospital.  To this end, Podvoll drew on his own clinical training and that of eastern philosophies and training around acute mental health challenges. It presented different examples of therapeutic community, and most especially, a deep commitment to honoring the basic dignity and potential for sanity as a shared human experience.  The outcome of this endeavor is the Windhorse Approach which for over 35 years has successfully addressed much of what is overlooked or dismissed in institutional approaches to mental health.

Our Approach

WIMH Northampton office conversationOur underlying view stands in stark contrast to any notion that there are those of us who are “sane” on one side of the line, and those who aren’t on the other.  If given certain conditions, we all could descend into an extreme state of mind, which Podvoll described as a desynchronization of body, mind, and environment.  Such a desynchronization disrupts our connection to others and to our world.  This leads to a profound sense of isolation and loneliness that can seem nearly impossible to bridge.

“Home is central to healing”
– Eric Friedland-Kays, Windhorse Admissions

Windhorse is not a hospital or residential living facility far removed from the real world. It is a bridge to independent living through significant support and formulating authentic relationships within the Windhorse and surrounding communities.

“Authentic relationships is a practice in the nuances of life”
– Tristan Gordon, Windhorse Senior Housemate

The Windhorse approach emphasizes creating an environment of safety and sanity, supported and enriched by genuine, compassionate relationships. This kind of physical and relational environment is a collaborative effort by a team, which in its fullest expression, includes the client or person at the center of concern, a therapeutic housemate, a principal psychotherapist, a wellness nurse, a team leader who coordinates care, and one or two counselors or peer counselors who—along with the team leader—practice basic attendance.  Basic attendance is the core discipline, and heart-essence, of Windhorse work.

“It is possible to talk about insanity from the point of view of health rather than disease.”
– Ed Podvoll

Intensive psychotherapy at Windhorse is rooted in the view that each person, regardless of their present state of mind, possesses a fundamental goodness and dignity.  By developing a trusting, genuine relationship, psychotherapy, in collaboration with a supportive team, offers a bridge out of isolation and supports the client’s natural impulse toward healing and growth.  Therapist and client work together to foster connection and nurture moments of clarity and insight.  The Windhorse psychotherapist is also an active team member, working closely with the team leader and wellness nurse to coordinate care.

Who We Serve

We serve individuals and their families ready to create their path to recovery. We support their work with teams, connections, acceptance and compassion. The readiness of a prospective client can  differ with each person but the following reflects some of what we look for:

  • Desire to build relationships
  • Ability to manage time alone with themselves while receiving significant daily support
  • An urge and curiosity to transform

Please call our admissions team for more information.
We have three locations on both coasts based in Northampton, MA, San Luis Obispo, CA, and Portland, OR.

Contact Information

Windhorse Integrative Mental Health
Elaine Vance, Outreach Director
Phone: 800-319-8261
2120 SW Jefferson St., Ste. 300
Portland, OR 97201

Northampton, MA
San Luis Obispo, CA
Portland, OR

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