Our Treatment

Our Treatment

The Austen Riggs Center provides intensive psychodynamic psychotherapy in a voluntary, open, and non-coercive community.

A residential treatment program since 1919, the Austen Riggs Center offers effective treatment for adults (18+) who have been diagnosed with a range of disorders including

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. 

Related Resources

Christina Biedermann, Psy.D., has been appointed the director of psychological testing

In four separate video clips, Director of Psychological Testing Christina Biedermann, PsyD, gives an overview of psychological testing at Riggs, its place as part of the Fellowship program and its role in the initial six-week treatment and evaluation phase at the Austen Riggs Center.

Watch Brig. General (ret) Stephen Xenakis, MD talk about understanding trauma and its effects.

Dr. Stephen Xenakis, Brigadier General (Ret), USA and former Erikson Scholar, talks about trauma and its effects.

Jane Tillman, PhD, ABPP

Jane G. Tillman, PhD, ABPP, Director of the Erikson Institute for Education and Research talks about how psychoanalytic treatment has changed over the years.

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

Eric M. Plakun, MD, Associate Medical Director and Director of Biopsychosocial Advocacy talks about the evidence for psychoanalytic treatment.

Related Video


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