But the serious attention Erikson gave to context turned out to provide an extremely powerful set of lenses for psychodynamic clinical work. One way to describe the mission of the Austen Riggs Center is that it focuses on the treatment and study of the individual in context – not only the context of the patient’s therapeutic relationships, but also the contexts of life cycle, family, community, history and culture.
InContext is a series of workshops and lectures organized by the Erikson Institute - the educational, research and application arm of the Center – to bring the clinical learning from this small, specialized treatment program into dialogue with mental health professionals across the country. At Riggs, seriously and chronically disturbed patients – “treatment- resistant” patients from one angle – engage in intensive psychodynamic therapy in a completely open and voluntary therapeutic community setting. The focus is on meaning discovered in a context of relationships and of taking seriously the patient’s authority.
We hope that this set of conversations provides mental health professionals with fresh perspectives and a deeper understanding of clinical work with very troubled patients, toward our shared goal of excellence in mental health care and treatment.