The Riggs Blog

The Riggs Blog

The Riggs Blog is a mix of news about clinical work, research and educational activities from the Austen Riggs Center, as well as a source for information beyond our walls that we find interesting and thought-provoking.

  • Heather Forouhar Graff, MD, is a psychiatry Fellow in psychoanalytic studies at the Austen Riggs Center.

    Psychiatry Fellow Dr. Heather Forouhar Graff speaks about the unique approach to prescribing Fellows learn – psychodynamic psychopharmacology – during their training at Riggs.

  • Heather Churchill, PsyD, Fellow in Psychology

    Heather Churchill, PsyD, Fellow in Psychology, talks about the in-depth training and career experience offered by the Fellowship Program at the Austen Riggs Center.

  • Katie Lewis, PhD, is a research psychologist at the Austen Riggs Center.

    According to a recent report by the CDC, suicide rates have consistently increased over the last 15 years in the United States. Sources of risk for suicide attempts, which include both factors that are malleable (such as hopelessness) and those that are not (such as family history of suicide), have contributed to the development of multiple screening measures for suicide; however, the evaluation of risk factors alone has been shown to have limited efficacy in predicting individual suicide attempts. The fact remains that it is extraordinarily difficult to understand, let alone predict, the situations and influences that bring a person to try to take his or her life.

  • Psychotherapy

    Dr. Erin Seery, a psychiatry Fellow at the Austen Riggs Center, talks about how the Fellowship has helped her develop her identity as a therapist.

  • Donna Elmendorf, PhD is the director of the Therapeutic Community Program at the Austen Riggs Center.

    The Austen Riggs Center, through the Erikson Institute for Education and Research, has received a major grant from the John Leopold Weil and Geraldine Rickard Weil Memorial Charitable Foundation, Inc., to support its new Human Development Strategic Initiative. This multilayered initiative encompasses community intervention, research, and education, which are central tasks of the Erikson Institute.

  • Spring 2017 issue of Austen Riggs Center, ARC News, featuring articles on three strategic initiatives: clinical systems, neural mediators of psychotherapeutic change, and human development.

    Spring 2017 issue of Austen Riggs Center, ARC News, featuring articles on three strategic initiatives: clinical systems, neural mediators of psychotherapeutic change, and human development.

  • Austen Riggs Staff Psychiatrist Elizabeth Weinberg, MD, and Research Psychologist Katie Lewis, PhD, respond to a Scientific American article about suicide risk assessment.

    In their recently published Scientific American article “Suicide Risk Assessment Doesn’t Work,” Declan Murray and Patrick Devitt note the limitations of using risk factors in assessing suicide risk and address a significant problem in mental health. We agree with the conclusion that over-reliance on formulaic assessment can interfere with real engagement with patients. We cannot agree, however, that the best recommended practice is to send suicidal patients home with the reassurance that statistically they are likely to stay alive "no matter what we do."

  • Riggs Fellowship: A Systems Approach in a Therapeutic Community

    Heather Forouhar Graff, MD, talks about some of the things she appreciates most about being a psychiatry Fellow at the Austen Riggs Center. 

  • Eric M. Plakun, MD, DLFAPA, FACPsych, Associate Medical Director and Director of Admissions

    In November of 2016, Dr. Eric M. Plakun’s first piece as psychotherapy columnist for the Journal of Psychiatric Practice was published. You can read this piece and his more recent columns here.

  • In making the diagnosis of a personality disorder, a clinician takes into account a full, thoughtful assessment not just of symptoms, but also of all the relevant psychological, social, and relational information.

    In thinking about borderline personality disorder, it's important to think about the individuality of the person carrying the diagnosis. A person with BPD isn't "a borderline," but is a person first and foremost. In making the diagnosis of a personality disorder, a clinician takes into account a full, thoughtful assessment not just of symptoms, but also of all the relevant psychological, social, and relational information.

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