A residential treatment program since 1919, the Austen Riggs Center offers effective treatment for people who have been diagnosed with a range of disorders including
- depressive disorders;
- bipolar disorder;
- borderline personality disorder;
- other personality disorders;
- psychotic disorders including schizophrenia;
- post-traumatic stress disorder;
- obsessive compulsive disorder; and
- anxiety disorders.
In addition, many people come here with histories of substance use disorders or eating disorders, and as long as the person is medically stable and not actively abusing substances, our treatment can be helpful for these conditions as well.
We treat the individual, not the diagnosis. Diagnostic labels cannot capture the essence of an individual’s struggles or strengths, and they often obscure what people have in common. Many of our patients have multiple diagnoses; and many have been identified as “treatment resistant” in the past. Often they seek psychiatric treatment at Riggs because they need a different approach, and many opt to stay in our long term residential treatment program following the initial evaluation period of treatment.
All patients have intensive psychodynamic psychotherapy four times a week with a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. The goal is to help the person expand their capacity for work, play, and love by fostering improved self-esteem and resilience and by helping them acknowledge and come to terms with whatever has previously blocked their development.
Recognizing the importance of the social context, we offer in-depth family evaluation, support for family members, and family therapy, as well as a robust Therapeutic Community Program in which patients can develop supportive peer relationships and learn about themselves with others. Community members work at practicing “examined living,” in which patients and staff discuss the meanings of behaviors, choices, and interactions with one another in open, collaborative ways. We offer opportunities for participation in patient government, in social and recreational activities, in reflective process groups, and in health and wellness activities such as meditation and yoga.
The same interdisciplinary treatment team works with a patient even if he or she steps down to a lower level of care, and includes nursing care, clinical social work, psychopharmacology, a substance abuse counselor, and therapeutic community staff. We have a consultant in internal medicine, a nutritionist, and a physical trainer, and can offer referrals for specialized medical assessment when needed.
Balancing the clinical work is a novel Activities Program in which working artists provide instruction in visual arts, fiber arts, ceramics, woodworking, theatre, and other artistic forms. Patients can also work in the Nursery School, the greenhouse, or in various jobs in the work program. Each person works with staff to find the combination of services and activities suited to them. No two treatments are exactly alike.