The Role of Research in the Erikson Institute



by Aaron Beatty

Dr. Jane Tillman, Director of the Erikson Institute for Education and ResearchThe Erikson Institute (EI) develops Riggs’ connection to the larger society by promoting education and research in psychodynamic thought and treatment, by working to generate new knowledge in partnership with a range of disciplines, and by bringing a clinically informed, psychosocial perspective to societal problems. 

In her role as Director of the Erikson Institute, Jane G. Tillman, PhD, has oversight over the research efforts here at Riggs. Because of our unique open and voluntary treatment setting that includes four times weekly psychotherapy with a doctor on staff and the utilization of multiple treatment modalities across a  typically longer period of time, we have an opportunity and, in many ways, an obligation to report back to the larger world about what we are learning. 

Dr. Tillman remarks, “The treatment of patients at Riggs involves a complex ecology of treatment.  Studying this ecology, our patients, what brings them to Riggs, what in the Riggs treatment effects change, and what sort of patient the Riggs approach works best for remain exciting avenues of exploration.”

At the recommendation of Former Erikson Scholar and research consultant to Riggs, David Reiss, MD, Riggs has engaged in the creation of a Research Consultation Committee of experts in the field of psychodynamic research. Chairing this committee is Linda Mayes, MD, Arnold Gesell Professor in the Child Study Center and professor of epidemiology (chronic diseases), of pediatrics and of psychology. Dr. Mayes assembled a diverse team of psychodynamic research experts to serve on this committee, including: Jacques Barber, PhD; John Clarkin, PhD; Patrick Luyten, PhD; Kevin Meehan, PhD; Nancy Suchman, PhD; Mary Target, PhD; and Robert Waldinger, MD. 

Members of the committee will visit Riggs on July 21 and 22 to learn more about our treatment system and to develop recommendations about how we might productively engage staff and patients in studying various aspects of the treatment at Riggs.  Underwriting support for the meetings of the committee has been provided by the Jeffrey Gutin Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. 

Riggs has recently hired a manager of institutional research to oversee the operation of the Research Department.  Kim Hunter-Schaedle, PhD, arrived on July 7, and comes to Riggs with substantial experience from her career as a medical research foundation executive and as a research neuroscientist.

As Dr. Tillman remarks, “The Research Consultation Committee creates an exciting opportunity for our institution.” Indeed, finding ways to share and communicate our learning while learning from others in the field of psychodynamic research serves to broaden our understanding and communicate evidence-based research related to our treatment model.