The “Windhorse Project” was tested for the first time in 1981 in Boulder, Colorado, by Edward Podvoll and other colleagues from the “Naropa University”, with the creation of a multi-professional therapeutic team around a previously institutionalized patient *. The basic idea was to create an “ad hoc” environment that could really promote the recovery and healing of that specific person through an attention and an accompaniment to domestic activities, the establishment of healthy interpersonal relationships, the progressive recovery of daily activities and rhythms, as well as frequent psychotherapy sessions accompanied by pharmacotherapy during the acute phases. (Recovering Sanity, Shambala Publications 2003). Subsequently, in 1990, with other colleagues E. Podvoll created Windhorse Community Services (WCS), which continues its activity today. Other Windhorse centers were born in Nova Scotia, Massachusetts, Texas, California. In Europe the most active Windhorse center is currently in Vienna, but there are also in Germany, recently in England, and with ACCORDO, since 2008, in Italy.
* the story of this first windhorse patient, along with others, is narrated in the documentary Someone Beside You
Inspired by both Western and Buddhist psychology, the Windhorse approach involves a team of experienced therapists working closely with the patient in his home environment. The windhorse project is today aimed at people with a wide range of mental disorders: schizophrenic disorder and other psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse, personality disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, forms of autism. Projects dedicated to the elderly and to accompanying patients with terminal illnesses are also possible.
While the biological medical model lays the foundation for the treatment of severe forms of mental disorder on the long-term use of antipsychotic drugs, the windhorse approach emphasizes the need to treat people from a holistic perspective, one in which the biological, psychological dimensions , social and spiritual are taken into consideration with the intention of helping patients correct the imbalance that is at the center of the state of discomfort.
Management cannot ignore the consideration of other cohabiting persons, and the well-being sought is that of the whole nucleus, whose members are involved in periodic meetings with the teams.
The same teams have periodic meetings according to agreed modalities, in which the same principles of listening to oneself and of the other are practiced, both during the Windhorse psychotherapy sessions (also at home), and during the Basic Attendance shifts. This creates a “Windhorse environment”, a sort of community where mutual listening is cultivated.