About

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does Austen Riggs have an adolescent program?
    • No. Because of our open setting, we only work with patients 18 years of age and older.
       
  • What is the average age of a patient at Riggs?
  • How long is the program?
    • We ask for a minimum commitment of six weeks.  Beyond that, there is no set duration of the program, which is designed collaboratively in an effort to meet each individual's needs.  The average length of stay is five months.
       
  • How does someone become a patient at Austen Riggs?
    • We have a fairly intensive admissions process. We gather information in order to assess a person's likelihood of benefiting from treatment in an open setting.  To do this, we need the following:
      • A phone conversation with the potential person seeking to understand their interest in and motivation for treatment as well as to learn of their commitment to abstain from substances.
      • Clinical information from previous clinicians and records from other psychiatric treatment programs.
      • Medical records for any significant medical issues.
      • Verbal commitment from the financially responsible party to finance the initial six weeks of treatment.
    • Once this information is complete and reviewed by our admissions director, if deemed appropriate, the person will be placed on a waiting list for consultation.  When we have an opening, an in-person consultation will be arranged with possible admission to follow.  Once the consultation occurs, an admission is offered and accepted 85% of the time.
       
  • Does Austen Riggs take insurance?
    • The answer is unfortunately complicated, as insurance has become more complex.  Austen Riggs is out-of-network with ALL insurance companies.  If an individual's policy has potential residential, mental health and out-of-network benefits, then we will assist the patient/family in trying to obtain some coverage from their insurance company.  About 30% of our patients receive some form of coverage from their insurance company.  However, because the rate of insurance coverage is low and often quite slow, payment to Riggs is due in advance.  We work hard to help our patients and their families get as much coverage from their insurance as we can. Read more.
       
  • What does a typical day look like?
    • See our sample schedule.  Each patient designs his or her own schedule in collaboration with the members of the treatment team.  
       
  • What does a patient do during downtime?
    • Each person chooses how to spend free time. Our activities program provides varied activities.  We have an art studio with instructors in painting, ceramics, fiber arts, woodworking, theater and other arts; music lessons; a greenhouse and a nursery school. We have a full gym and a personal trainer who offers group and individual instruction.  Patients collaborate in managing a budget for a wide range of social and recreational activities, and there are also numerous opportunities for informal activities both on and off campus.
    • There are common areas for interacting with peers, watching television or playing games, and a recreation room with game tables.  In addition, there are many places in this beautiful, quiet setting for solitude and reflection.
       
  • Is there treatment on the weekends?
    • Nursing staff is available 24 hours each day and there is always a doctor on call in case of an emergency. There are daily groups on the weekends. 
  • Can a patient have a part time job or go to school while in treatment?
    • During the initial six-week evaluation and treatment phase this is not recommended.  For the first six weeks, we think a patient will benefit most by focusing on the work here.  Those who stay longer, also benefit from an initial period of primary dedication to this work, minimizing outside distractions.  Later in treatment, people sometimes attend school or work, often as a transitional phase prior to leaving the Center.
       
  • Can a patient continue to do a job (via phone/internet) from Riggs?
    • This is not recommended during the evaluation and treatment phase, because it could so easily become a distraction from full participation in the work here.  People who stay longer have occasionally maintained outside jobs during treatment.  In general, we recommend that each patient make choices, in collaboration with the treatment team, that prioritize the patient's treatment goals.
       
  • What happens if a patient does not connect with his or her therapist?
  • How soon can a patient step down into a transitional program?
    • Once the patient has completed the initial six-week evaluation and treatment phase and the clinical case conference convenes, the patient is eligible to transition to a step-down program. The treatment team will work with the patient to choose the program that best meets individual needs.  The process of changing programs begins with the patient's formal request and includes careful discussion with the patient's therapist, nursing care coordinator, program manager, and other members of the treatment team.  The team leader authorizes the move to a new program.
       
  • Why does a patient need an evaluation if one was made recently somewhere else?
    • The assessment process helps us get to know a patient in a way that we value and also helps a patient get to know the treatment team and how we work.  Our psychological testing process is more thoroughly individualized than that offered at many other facilities, so while there may be overlapping tests (and at times we may be able to use data from a recent assessment, if available), we offer each patient a full, fresh, and thoughtful re-evaluation. 
       
  • Are visitors allowed?  Family members?
    • Yes!  Patients can have friends and family visit at any time.  They may not stay on campus overnight, but there are many attractive accommodations in the local area.  We encourage contact and interaction with friends and family during treatment.
       
  • Do many patients leave on the weekends or for the holidays?
    • During the initial six weeks patients are asked to be actively involved in the Riggs treatment program and spend nights sleeping at Riggs. Throughout treatment, most people continue to stay on campus during weekends, though many do take occasional trips to visit home or elsewhere.  We recommend that each patient fully invest in the work here, prioritizing treatment needs and making decisions (regarding travel and other things) that are in the best interests of achieving treatment goals. Depending on proximity, a patient may wish to leave for a holiday, but many people remain on campus for holidays as well, often sharing in celebrations.
       
  • If a patient leaves early is any of the prepayment refunded?
  • Does Austen Riggs offer scholarships or financial assistance?
    • We do offer the opportunity for fee reductions based on need.  The one-page application is completed by the payer and returned with his or her most recent two years’ tax returns. Our financial department will determine eligibility for a discount that may be 5% to 25% of the cost of treatment.
    • We do not offer scholarships or work-to-pay programs. However, there is a work program.  Patients can take jobs (for instance, in the greenhouse or the nursery school on the campus) in order to practice working or to build skills in a particular area.  While not high paying, these jobs do offer people a chance to earn some spending money.
       
  • Is there a need to bring any money?
    • The prepayment, due on the day of admission, covers most of the costs related to treatment and room and board for the first six weeks..  The patient may choose to bring spending money to go off campus and take part in activities not provided by Riggs.
       
  • Do patients have continued contact with their outpatient therapist?
    • A patient may have contact with his or her outpatient therapist while at Riggs, but may not receive treatment from him or her while a patient at the Center.

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