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.

  • Austen Riggs Nursery School, part of the Activities Program at the Austen Riggs Center, celebrates children at year-end graduation.

    Though it was a cool and windy day, there was a great deal of warmth in the large tent that housed the Austen Riggs Nursery School graduation on June 9, 2016. Parents, caregivers and members of the Riggs community congregated, while festive music filled the air and a slideshow of pictures from the school year flashed by on a large projection screen.  

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

    Despite advances in research methodology and efforts in the mental health and addictions fields to move toward evidence based treatment, large numbers of patients fail to respond to our best evidence based treatments. This has led to growing recognition of the phenomenon of treatment resistance.

  • Barbara Turner Hart, RN, MA, Director of Nursing at the Austen Riggs Center.

    When Barbara Turner Hart, RN, MA, retired from Riggs as the nurse educator in 2015, she did not expect to find herself in the position she is in now: back at Riggs as the director of nursing. But, when she was asked to step in after the retirement of the former director of nursing, Jane Bloom, PhD, she couldn’t say no. Turner Hart remarks, “I’m excited about providing leadership for and promoting the hard work of nursing in this unique psychiatric setting.”

  • Patients and staff were given puzzle pieces during the open setting seminar and asked to place their piece in a large puzzle.

    Listening, questioning and “opening things up” are values central both to the clinical work at Riggs and to the way the Riggs community of patients and staff work together in an open setting that is devoid of locks or privilege systems. It is “the intangibles that allow us to keep it open,” says David Mintz, MD, team leader and staff psychiatrist at Riggs.

  • Austen Riggs joins the NAMI 11th Annual Minds Matter Walk for Mental Health Awareness in Pittsfield, MA.

    According to their website, NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.” Riggs’ Medical Director/CEO Andrew J. Gerber, MD, PhD, says, “Partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness is a key priority for the Austen Riggs Center.” 

  • David Mintz, MD, Team Leader/Staff Psychiatrist at the Austen Riggs Center.

    Despite advances in neurobiology and drug development, and increasing pressure to deliver “evidence-based” psychiatric care, studies show many patients living with psychiatric illness remain resistant to psychiatric treatments. 

  • Andrew Gerber, MD, PhD, Medical Director/CEO, Austen Riggs Center

    Medical Director and CEO, Andrew Gerber MD, PhD, has signed the pledge to become a CEO Against Stigma, taking his commitment to mental health for everyone another step further. By signing on to the campaign, created by the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Mass), Dr. Gerber demonstrates that a stigma-free work environment for his 142 employees and their families is a priority.

  • The Community Events Board at Austen Riggs facilitates the development of recreational events for the patient community.

    The patient government at Riggs is organized according to a variety of tasks that collectively help support fundamental aspects of living in the Riggs community. Patients may run for and be elected to eight-week terms in a number of positions in the patient government.

  • Austen Riggs Nursery School holds annual art show featuring work by students at the Lavender Door Gallery in Stockbridge, MA.

    Red and white star-shaped balloons outside of the Lavender Door Gallery in the late afternoon of Friday, May 20 gave a hint of the celebration contained inside. Artwork created by students of the Austen Riggs Nursery School during this past school year was proudly displayed throughout the gallery.

  • Spencer Biel, PsyD is the Associate Director of the Therapeutic Community Program at the Austen Riggs Center

    As an undergraduate student at the University of Vermont, Spencer Biel, PsyD, did not imagine he would become a therapist; “I took a circuitous route,” he says, first graduating as a philosophy major with an art history minor, then studying cooking in France and working for a time in New York City as a line cook. 

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