The Austen Riggs Center is a vital therapeutic community, open psychiatric hospital, and institute for education and research. Our mission is to promote resilience and self-direction in those with complex psychiatric problems—to help people take charge of their lives. Our work is grounded in the conviction that an individual's problems are inherently meaningful, that such problems are best understood in a social context, and that treatment leads to a more fulfilling life when the sources of suffering are addressed.
The basic ingredients essential to fulfilling the Center's mission are:
- Treatment organized around an intensive individual therapeutic relationship, focusing on the patient's recognition and tolerance of experiences of conflict and pain, leading to the development of a sense of perspective on the illness
- An open therapeutic community involving all staff and patients
- A careful assessment phase, including psychological testing
- A range of programs geared to individual levels of capability and need
- Continuous treatment by the same multidisciplinary team as patients move between programs
- Psychopharmacologic treatment
- Group therapy, family treatment, and help with reintegration into the external community
- A broad Activities Program offering creative expression, with patients in the role of student, and in a "treatment-free zone"
- Ongoing staff development, including training, research, and education, to further the primary clinical task
- Recruitment and retention of quality staff
In an increasingly complex and fragmented world, the dignity of the individual, the importance of human relationships, and the centrality of a sense of community are more difficult to find. The focus and traditions of the Austen Riggs Center orient the staff to help troubled patients meet these and other rapidly changing psychological challenges of contemporary society.
We will continually build on our distinguished past, helping our patients develop personal competence in a completely open setting that emphasizes the individual’s capacity to face and take responsibility for their life—past, present, and future. We nurture our patients’ strengths, foster their social functioning, and encourage family collaboration. Through our research and training programs, we educate professionals in our psychodynamic perspective, applying this learning to a broad range of psychosocial problems.
Finally, in this time of diminishing mental health benefits, we will continue to develop cost-effective treatment settings that focus on individual psychotherapy and community living and that attend to resource limitations as both reality to deal with and metaphor for other limits and losses.
- Affirmation of the dignity and responsibility of the individual
- Recognition, appreciation, and enhancement of individual strengths
- Importance of human relationships
- Respect for individual differences
- Centrality of the psychotherapeutic relationship
- Learning opportunities in a community of differentiated voices
- Importance of examined living
- Attention to the conflict between individual choice and the requirements of a community
- Openness to innovation and creativity
- Open setting to promote personal responsibility and freedom of choice in treatment
- Importance of recognizing and preserving multiple roles, including those of student and community member
- Provision of treatment based on quality and outcome, not profit