Winnicott in Brief:
The Brooklyn Minds Winnicott Program is a cutting-edge initiative rooted in the principles of Mentalization-Based Treatment (MBT) and work of D.H. Winnicott, an English pediatrician and psychoanalyst who wrote about the relationship between caregivers and children. Winnicott viewed the key aspect of healthy development as being rooted in relationships and interactions—even small ones—with others.
Here at Brooklyn Minds, relationships are paramount in having a meaningful life. We developed the Winnicott Program to support clients in living their best lives by helping them learn to trust others in a way that strengthens relationships. The program is designed to fill in the (in our opinion, very wide) gaps of traditional mental health treatment by providing services in the home and in the community. With the Winnicott Program, we are able to meet life where it actually happens.
The Winnicott Program is a concierge, companion-based service aimed at building trusting relationships and helping clients reach their personal goals. Services are individually tailored and developed with the assistance of the client, their treatment team, and family. For example, our companions may go into a client’s home to help them develop more regular morning routines or assist with home organization. We may meet a client out and about in the city for a trip to a museum or a volunteer opportunity, all while teaching navigation skills of the MTA transit system. We might accompany a client to an improv class, if it is something they have identified as a goal, but feel it is too scary to do alone. By starting with the foundation of trust, we are able to communicate information in a way that is trustworthy, and thus learned much more quickly. We find that this personal support- where life happens- helps clients turn treatment into recovery in a way that is not otherwise possible with traditional in-office services alone.
Who Will Benefit from Winnicott?
Anyone managing mental health challenges in the community could benefit from Winnicott services. Our clients range from those needing 24-hour companions services to ensure safety and stability, to individuals focused on building social support networks with a desire to improve relationships. Many of our clients benefit from learning basic life skills, such as managing a schedule, budgeting, food preparation, and other skills they may not have already mastered. We are also there to help more complex challenges, like navigating social events when newly sober, or even figuring out how dating works, now that treatment of mental health concerns has made it possible.
- Psychosocial support:
- Attend meetups, improv classes, or other organized events
- Perhaps test your comfort zone by attending a poetry slam?
- Help navigate “the nightmare” that is IKEA on a Sunday
- A third-wheel to go on that first date with you (will sit elsewhere upon request)
- Vocational Support
- Vocational coaching to help you focus on job applications and accessing other state supported services like ACCESS-VR
- Wellness Skills
- How does an exercise accountability partner sound?
- Guided in-home mediation
- Finally, have someone to join you at that yoga class
- Life Skills
- Learn to budget
- Navigation of the MTA system with a subway scavenger hunt
- And more…
Why It Works:
Our in-home and community-based treatment works mainly due to its ability to be flexible and custom to each individual, built on the solid theoretical basis of Mentalizing and strong communication between the family, clinical team, and clients. Our Winnicott companions work with clients on establishing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Relevant, Time-based) goals and work to achieve these set goals. Compared to treatment in a facility where providers are overseeing multiple patients, each with different needs, in-home companions are able to provide support for just one person, thus allowing them to focus their efforts. Having in-home support can make it easier for relapses and triggers to be quickly identified—and thus allow clinicians to act even faster to prevent serious relapse.
Without the distraction of multiple clients in a hospital, institutional setting, or 50 minutes of a therapy hour, companion services allow for more engaged and in-depth “therapeutic living.” Although companions are not licensed clinicians, they are able to guide the client while receiving supervision from licensed expert supervisors in mental health professions. Our companions are all chosen for their rich experiences, ability to relate to others, and receive ongoing training from Anna Freud National Center for Children and Families certified supervisors in Mentalization-Based Treatment who are able to provide supervision, even in moments of crisis.
Learning how to live independently depends on trust, trust which is often undermined by years of treatment that is as ineffective as our patients believe it to be. Like our pioneering namesake, D.H. Winnicott, our program is built on trust in our relationships and helping clients learn how to trust themselves.
Imagine if recovery looked like a trip to the Bronx Zoo? Sometimes, with the Winnicott Program, it does.