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Fall 2008 | Vol. 8, No.

Windhorse neWs
F o r t h e c o m m u n i t y a n d F r i e n d s o F w i n d h o r s e a s s o c i at e s

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy:
Training for the Treatment of Trauma
Meeting monthly since May 2008 (part of a four year training)
An interview with Marilyn Marks, LICSW, Senior Clinician, Kermit Cole, MA, Team Leader, and Elise White, BA, Peer Counselor Interviewed by Jeff Bliss, MSW, Marketing & Development Director Jeff: Tell us about why you decided to attend this training? Marilyn: Before I came to Windhorse I met and worked with so many individuals that were struggling with serious mental distress that had trauma histories. I began to wonder to what degree that history effected the development of their delusions, hallucinations, and other symptoms that usually are medicated, but not healed? I wanted to know how to get to the root of the problem. Also I was very drawn to the very practical hands-on tools offered by the teacher (Janina Fisher,Ph.D.) who was using mindfulness practice, Body-Mind centering practices, and yoga techniques to immediately minimize hyper- and hypo-arousal due to trauma symptoms. I saw it as a way to augment and in some cases replace talk therapy. I had found talk therapy far too cerebral for many of these clients and that it actually exacerbated symptoms. It offers some a therapy that is not going to re-traumatize them. The root of this work is mindfulness and so it fits well with what we are doing here at Windhorse. Elise: It was a confluence of events. A couple of years ago I read an article on trauma-informed peer support. Later, I heard Cailin Reiken (a Windhorse clinician) speak about trauma which resonated with me. I was drawn to a book on her desk titled Trauma and the Body and began to read it. It increased my curiosity to learn more about the role of the body in the work that we do. Also, I was spending many hours on basic attendance shifts with peers who had a history of trauma and who had experienced the mental health system as traumatizing. I really wanted to learn how to be more present and skillful in the ways in which I interacted with my peers around issues of trauma. Kermit: I became interested in trauma when I was studying for my masters, because it seemed to explain so many things in the academic, scientific, and real worlds of mental illness. When I was involved in schizophrenia research at Harvard, the unacknowledged or underappreciated role of trauma in mental illness became starkly clear to me. As I began working at Windhorse I knew I needed to understand more about the trauma perspective, so I took a course for nine months at Dr. Bessel van der Kolks Trauma Center in Boston. It was an overview of research, theory, and treatment that prepared me to take Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP), which is a practical training in trauma treatment. Jeff: Please help me to understand sensorimotor work further? Marilyn: When I am using it, I am first interested in reframing the clients symptoms from a trauma perspective. One client, for many years before coming to Windhorse, was told she was scattered and crazy, but when she was able to reframe her experiences of her life as a response to trauma, a whole new understanding of herself opened up and she no longer judged herself so harshly and actually realized that her scattered mind was a coping mechanism
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a note from our clinical director: Every year we refine our therapeutic approach by augmenting our core practices with training in the therapy field both collectively as an organization and individually as clinicians. The following article is an example of our exploration of other modalities to broaden our understanding and treatment of trauma by a few clinicians who are embarking on this in-depth training. Though we are not yet experts in this approach, it is an excellent example of how another therapeutic system can integrate well with our mindfulness approach in working with extreme states of mind. Sara S. Watters, MA, LMHC, Acting Co-Executive Director

Transitions in the Executive Leadership


Sara S. Watters & Victoria Yoshen

The interim executive leadership that has been held by Sara Watters and Victoria Yoshen is coming to a close as we welcome the transition of our new Executive Director. The process by which the Search Committee found our new Executive Director was thorough and one of integrity. We received over 60 resumes from across the nation, including some international candidates as well. Additionally, a sense of increased community emerged as the larger Windhorse community participated in four interviews with the finalist candidates and provided feedback to the Search Committee. The Boards choice was Jack Rockefeller, and he has accepted the offer of employment. Jack had been looking for an organization with our values where he could land from his years of traveling the globe as a non-profit consultant and director in the social and health fields. There is a sense of reciprocity in our partnership we can offer the unique culture of Windhorse, and he can help us spread our wings and share our knowledge more widely in the world. The community is excited Jack is coming aboard, and there will be opportunities to meet Jack in the new year. We extend our deep gratitude to the Executive Director Search Committee who volunteered countless hours of their time for this important endeavor. Those who served on the Committee include John Copen, Reuven Goldstein, Sera Davidow, Dave Stark, Bruce McCarter, Norma Friedman, Katharine Shields, Mary Tibbetts Cape. Kate Richardson also contributed invaluable support to the Committee. Sara is returning to her Clinical Director role, but with a new partnership in a different form, since our new Executive Director does not hold the Windhorse lineage or a clinical background. Saras clinical role will continue to be important in partnership with Jack in our efforts to bring the Windhorse approach to a broader audience. Victoria is stepping out of the interim leadership role and returning to work full time again at the Odyssey Bookshop, a 45-year old independent bookstore (an almost unimaginable achievement in these times!). We were both inspired by the work of holding the Executive Director role in the interim period. Numerous staff members stepped up in helpful ways to keep our organization running smoothly and the quality of our service to clients at an all-time high. Clients and families engaged in many of our community events, enlarging our circle of the Windhorse community. Board and committee members offered time and creative ideas as we worked on solutions to challenges we faced. Together, we keep Windhorse Associates a valuable service for our clients as we continue to expand our horizons to new contacts.

Red Moon Teacher by Gineen Cooper

As we continue the day-to-day work we find inspiring, we invite you our community to support us in any way you can to help us move out into the world. Time, ideas, money, friends with money, networking acquaintances, memories to archive, testimonials for the website, board membership . . . there are so many ways to be woven into this fabric called Windhorse Associates. Join us!

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
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CoMiNGS & GoiNGS


Comings Stephanie Westphal has joined us as a team nurse. Stephanie brings great experience and an extensive background in wellness practice to her role here. Senior Clinician Phoebe Murray is back working with us and we could not be happier. Phoebe continues to offer her inquiring mind and compassionate heart. Jennifer Stuart has returned to Windhorse as a team counselor and continues to pursue her interest in herbal medicine and message therapy. Mike Levy also returns to us as a housemate and team counselor after spending his summer at the Shambhala Mountain center in Colorado. Daniella (Nellie) Brahms and Gineen Cooper have graciously stepped back into their roles as housemates as well. We welcome Jordan Stout and Dianne Engle as housemates. We are fortunate to welcome Nick Boutros as a team leader. Nick, moving here from Chicago, is a graduate of Naropa University and a skilled substance abuse counselor. We are delighted that Nick has decided to make Northampton his new home.

for that time of trauma. Over time she shifted her orientation of herself from psychotic to dissociated, which was a huge step. After that shift we could begin to work with how her body could feel more grounded and her mind more present. Kermit: As I understand it, SP defines trauma as the deep learning, in both the body and the mind, from things that have happened and, as importantly, things that ideally would have happened that did not. These experiences result in learning which plays out later in the environments in which we find ourselves, where the learning may or may not be as adaptive as it originally had been. SP does not dig into the past in the way traditional talk therapy does, trying to understand the trauma. One of the limitations of talk therapy is that, even if the person can effectively talk about the trauma, which is often not the case, new learning is not taking place within the same emotional/experiential context as the original events and therefore will not have the same impact as the original learning experience. Instead, SP recalls memories as a means to produce physical sensations and responses in the present moment and then to create new learning, safely, but within these analogous states. When all we are paying attention to is the story it is hard for change or healing to occur. The real change happens through bringing awareness to the bodys response to the story and discovering new body-centered responses as well. Marilyn: Here is another example: A woman I worked with had been given a breast cancer diagnosis that was first misdiagnosed and then re-diagnosed as being malignant. In telling me this story of these events, her hands kept going up in front of her body. I went with that instinctual movement and explored how she related to it. As she moved and listened to her hands, she created a boundary, a protective wall with her arms. She connected this movement with having felt deeply wronged by the surgeon. We were then able to work with ways for her to address that injury, by asserting herself with her doctor. So the lesson in this is essentially about not bypassing the body in exploring trauma. Elise: Learning about the inherent wisdom of the body been powerful. So often in trauma, our bodies become a source of shame and fear. Yet our body also can truly help guide us through the dark places that have held us prisoner. This training has emphasized the importance of attunement and collaboration where clients can find their own answers by learning to stay present with what is happening in their own body. Discovering

Goings In June we said goodbye to team leader Heidi Reichhold. She headed out to Denver and we are grateful for her contribution here. Cailin Reiken temporarily left us in June to welcome her new baby, Arcadia, into the world. She will be on maternity leave of indeterminate length.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
that there really is a wisdom of the body which can be trusted can be wonderfully empowering. Jeff: i am curious about how what you are learning is informing your work here with Windhorse clients, such as on basic attendance shifts or in intensive psychotherapy? Marilyn: I actually start with myself first by noticing any signs of mild hyper-arousal. Then I breathe deeply, ground myself through my feet, and slow myself down. It feels wonderful and self-supporting. I am learning that in intensive psychotherapy this body-mind approach offers me a way to work with seemingly intractable situations. It may start with how clients perceive themselves as the identified patient or as sick. For example: One client continuously called herself sick or ill and with the sensorimotor work she was able to shift out of that identity. As we worked with her body posture she came to feel that it was the first time she ever felt like an empowered person that she could remember. We were able to do this because her body was showing her where her conflict was. Elise: For me, it has been helpful to learn ways to resource the body. In part, this involves techniques to center and ground the body in order to work with ones level of arousal. For example, I use the technique Marilyn mentioned earlier of pushing my feet into the ground. Immediately, I can feel a deepening of my breath and increased sense of relaxation. On shifts with my peers, I also find myself more easily tuning into the domain of breath and body. But just as importantly, I am learning to be mindful of my own sensations, movements and posture in order to better understand what my body is trying to communicate. Jeff: Marilyn, i have heard you describe the importance of feeling grounded while on a basic attendance shift with someone. i was wondering if there was a time in the training with your own body in which you really connected with learning this new approach? Marilyn: I had been experiencing a lot of stress in my life and so in an exercise I chose to explore that. There was a lot of rigidity in my body and shallowness in my breathing and the teachers asked me to stay with that rigidity and notice the fear there in my body. I began to rock back and forth and as I stayed with it my breathing deepened and my arms released and a playful feeling of letting go arose. As that happened, the stress I was experiencing actually eased. This was an example of my body informing my mind that I was okay and that I had options. This is considered a bottom up formulation where my body informs my

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mind. Traditionally I might use a top down approach where I sit and talk to my therapist and try to relieve the stress in my body by just talking about it. Jeff: And for you Kermit or Elise? Elise: This is so deeply personal for me. In one practice we had three people with one in the role of the therapist, one as the client, and one as the witness, and then we rotated the roles. In the client role I was asked to recall an experience from my life in which I wanted to say no and I did not. I was moved by how physical the effect of the event was in my body. This is why it is so personal, because after years of trying to understand the stories of my life, I had a direct experience of how profoundly the body holds and relays the story, even more richly than words can. Connecting with my bodys sensations moment by moment was the beginning of a healing process. Jeff: What other experiential approaches are used in the training? Kermit: We start everyday with a meditation. We explore in our bodies what we mean when we say I feel traumatized, or I feel afraid, or I feel angry. In the sensory motor formulation you say, for example Where in your body do you feel this anger or How do you know right now that you are afraid? and we might say Well my heart is beating really fast and we can take it from there. I was in the role of client during one of the practice sessions, for instance, and I was describing a frozen feeling in my chest that I get in certain situations. My partner kept asking me to describe it and explore it and as I did I found that I became unable to describe it, because simply paying attention to the feeling had melted it away. This is very different from saying why are you frozen or why are you angry? and then expecting that the reason the person comes up with is actually the most important one. It may be historically significant, but even so its not as important as learning to observe the physical reality of these feelings, relating to them mindfully and regaining a healthy, dynamic, fulfilling relationship with our bodies and our minds. Jeff: May i ask you what motivates you to do this work? Kermit: Learning something like this, which relates to the building blocks of how we become who we are and how we can change, is a reminder of why this is the most exciting kind of work to do. I have found that as I have been studying this and applying it I have become more adept at relating to my clients in regard to trauma and dissociation. It is so easy to ignore the things that are there blocking us in

Community news
Mary Tibbetts-Cape and Nick Luchetti, as co-leaders of our Education Initiative, have been invited to present at the John Kabat-Zinns conference on Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare and Society. Their presentation is titled Between: Mindfulness and Relationship. Now in its third year, the embodied recovery group continues to mix things up with a fresh and seasonal flair. In November, group members learned to create an assortment of hearty soups to prepare themselves for the winter chill. We are excited to announce the start to our first Assessment Residence hosted by senior clinician Nick Luchetti. This is an experiment in providing a living space for individuals who we are in transition, usually between a hospital setting and a Windhorse household or they are uncertain of their commitment and we together find it to be way to begin our relationship. In August we began offering our brand new Foster Family Caregiver program. This is a housing approach where a Windhorse client moves into the home of the person serving as the housemate. In this case Stu Wetherbe, an experienced housemate from several teams, and his partner invited the client to live with them for the foreseeable future in their lovely home in Holyoke. In mid-November clinical director Sara Watters and senior clinician Eric Friedland-Kays traveled to Portland, Oregon to train a supportive team for a client there as part of our Natural Teams program. They also made a presentation to a gathering of clinicians from the region who are interested in learning more about this approach.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
our lives -- our stumbling blocks, those events that define us, that hold us back from being what we might become. But we are not more comfortable or happier for ignoring these things. The wisdom of what is in the sensorimotor training makes it possible to turn your attention to these very events. It is said that daylight is the best antiseptic. Once you start paying attention to something it starts to yield itself to becoming the next thing. It is this engagement with the moment that is in the end all that life offers us, and it is pretty good. Marilyn: This work has completely re-invigorated and re-inspired my work as a therapist and also as a person in relationship with other people. In some ways I can not begin to describe how inspired I am to have this work get out into the world because of its healing potential, because of its potential to de-pathologize mental illness, and its potential to bring people home to themselves in a more complete way. Jeff: is this technique as applicable to those dealing with extreme mind states or psychosis as it is compared to someone who is not experiencing psychosis but is experiencing elevated anxiety for example? Marilyn: I have learned that I have to be more cautious

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when working with someone experiencing psychosis as compared to someone who is struggling with a characterological disorder, such as a so-called borderline disorder or other axis II disorders (DSM-IV-TR). For the latter it is hugely helpful. I find I need to be very delicate in how I introduce this approach to people currently experiencing psychosis. Kermit: I think the line between dissociation and psychosis is much blurrier than we consider it to be. In any case, our primary tools at Windhorse are pretty much the same. We engage with what is happening in the moment, using presence and mindfulness. So often, before clients come to Windhorse, they are told in various ways by people treating them, that they shouldnt trust their minds and that they should surrender to being fixed. As a result of this training, Trust your mind is what I am saying to myself and silently to clients. That is what our presence says to the person we are attending to. Marilyn: I think Kermits comment brings us right back to the beginning of all of this. Presence and mindfulness is the core of this approach and that is a way we are learning to heal trauma.

The Windhorse/Recovery Learning Community Writing Group


by Dave Stark, Peer Coordinator

In the mid-1990s a Windhorse housemate was attending the Smith MSW program and needed to fulfill a community project requirement. So she convened a group of three Windhorse clients who were interested in pursuing work opportunities. The group met weekly and discussed work-related issues, and soon discovered that all three participants had an interest and background in writing. The group continued and participants started to write together and share written work. Eventually, it seemed time to publish what had resulted, and so, with help from Alexander Dreier and Mary Cape, senior clinicians, a publication was born. After a long meeting spent trying to coin the perfect title for the publication, someone suggested Horsetales. The name stuck. And when the Smith student completed her internship, the work group had become an official writing group. The Horsetales group met on and off for close to a decade, attracting not just clients but enthusiastic staff members. Throughout this time, however, it rarely published due to the intensity of labor required. When, in 2007, the Recovery Learning Community approached Windhorse about co-sponsoring (along with the Freedom Center) a writing group to be held at Windhorse, there was already a history of successful writing group activity at Windhorse, so we gladly agreed. Under the current format, the writing group meets weekly, Wednesdays from 2:00 to 3:30pm, in the library. It is open not only to all Windhorse community members, but through its affiliation with RLC, to the public. At each meeting we first agree on a list of possible topics, then write on our own for about twenty

minutes, then share our writing with the other group members and then repeat the sequence. Creating the list of possible topics is itself great fun, because we often quickly invent themes that satirize current events, or parody mental health issues, or point ironically to human dilemmas, or simply rhyme. We ask that all feedback be supportive and constructive, though it can resemble literary criticism in its detail. The group is co-facilitated by David Stark, Peer Coordinator, and Chaya Grossberg, yoga instructor and published author, who works with the RLC. The quality of the writing shared in the group can be astounding, and speaks to the talent of group participants but more generally to the unexpressed gifts within consumers and all people. Through this process of reflecting, creating, expressing, and sharing, we come to find out what we think and feel in an ever more conscious and refined manner, and find connection among friends over the subtlest nuances of lived experience (of illness and recovery), or any life experience that may have seemed ours alone to hold. The contemplative Windhorse environment around us supports us in going deeper within our expressive selves, and the fabric of community helps us to bring these offerings to nurture the creativity of others. Because it is a group intended for consumers, there is a strong feeling of safety, especially around mental health topics. This allows us to reveal ourselves more truthfully and completely, and our private musings often find a welcome audience. I invite you to appreciate for yourself a sampling of the keenly creative and inspired works some group participants have recently written.

Here are two writings created by Laura Jacques (a fledging writer and member of our community), written spontaneously in the Windhorse writing group. They have not been changed or edited.

Describe Your Kitchen:


A hunting expedition, a pleasure palace, a place of lush vegetation and tamed animals, all are enclosed in my kitchen. To say it is a serene place would be a half truth. There is mayhem in the food processor, and whirling molecules in the microwave. There is the brutal slicing of vegetables, cut down in their prime. And the grilling of some gentle creatures bloody flesh upon the top of the stove. There is a gentle side of things in my kitchen A warm sudsy bath for plates and coffee mugs that contained the toast and tea for breakfast. A sponge carefully caressing the glass objects so they will not break. A spoon-holder cradling its namesake with a steadfast assurance of a place for everything and everything in its place. My kitchen is also a battleground me versus food. I love the taste but suffer from a fear of fullness. I suffer from a fear of a great many things the sound of an angry voice, the banging of a slammed door, the fear of rejection.

Describe the Sea:


The ocean white foam riding atop powerful waves. Sun dappled, glistening water. Sea glass worn cloudy clear by the minerals washing over them. Sand pulled back and forth rhythmically by the tide; my feet sinking deeper with each pull. Skin splashed by the waves wet and cool. Back out in the sun my legs begin to dry. Leaving a white coating on my tan limbs, that looks like salt. The sea water leaves behind it a visual memory on every thing it touches.

WiNDHoRSE STAff
Jeff Bliss, MSW, Marketing and Development Director Daniella Brahms, Housemate Mary Tibbetts-Cape, LICSW, Senior Clinician, Family Coordinator Sarah Carr, MA, Team Leader, Admissions Kermit Cole, MA, Team Leader Anne Collins, Fiscal Manager Gineen Cooper, MA, Housemate, Arts Consultant Susan Dorfman, Respite Dianne Engel, Housemate Eric Friedland-Kays, MA, Admissions Manager /Senior Clinician Bruce Goderez, MD, Psychiatrist Michael Levy, BA, Housemate / Team Counselor Nick Luchetti, MS, Housemate / Senior Clinician Marilyn Marks, LICSW, Senior Clinician

Renee Mendez, RN, MA Senior Clinician, Nurse Suzanne Rataj, BA, Respite Harold Raush, PhD, Elder Kate Richardson, BFA, Office Manager Ben Ross, BA Team Counselor Sparky Shooting Star, Spiritual Counselor Ilina Singh, RN, Wellness Nurse Steve Smith, BA Team Counselor Lindsay St John, BA Team Counselor David Stark, BA, Peer Coordinator Cheryl Stevens, MD, Respite Jordan Stout, Housemate Jennifer Stuart, Team Counselor Gabrielle Vitiello, LICSW, Senior Clinician Phoebe Walker Murray, MA, Senior Clinician Sara Watters, MA, LMHC, Interim Co-Executive Director, Clinical Director, IP

Stephanie Westphal, BS, RN, Wellness Nurse Stuart Wetherbe, Foster Family Caregiver Elise White, BA, Peer Counselor, Admin. Asst. Adam Woodward, Housemate Victoria Yoshen, Interim Co-Executive Director

BoARD of DiRECToRS
John Copen, President Reuven Goldstein, MEd, Vice-President Ren Thberge, MPH, MSM, Treasurer Sera Davidow, Clerk Carol Douglas, RN Peter Dulchinos, JD David Stark, BA CREDiTS Photos by Stu Wetherbe. Original artwork by Gineen Cooper (www.gineen.com)

WiNDHoRSE ASSoCiATES, a non-profit therapeutic and educational organization, is pioneering a whole-person approach to recovery from psychiatric disorders. We offer comprehensive, individually designed therapeutic programs in the community. Care is based in the clients home or in a therapeutic household shared with a staff housemate in the Northampton area. Mindfulness, attention to the whole person, restoration of personal and social connections, and belief in recovery are basic principles under-lying our approach. Windhorse also offers education and training in recovery skills and consultation to individuals and families. For more information, to request a brochure describing our programs, or to make a referral or inquire about admission, contact Admissions by phone (ext. 113), mail, or e-mail.

413-586-0207 Toll Free: 877-844-8181

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