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Open Setting

  • Samar Habl, MD is the director of admissions at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA.

    Samar Habl, MD, newly appointed director of admissions at the Austen Riggs Center talks about the role of the family in the admissions process.

  • Patients and staff were given puzzle pieces during the open setting seminar and asked to place their piece in a large puzzle.

    Listening, questioning and “opening things up” are values central both to the clinical work at Riggs and to the way the Riggs community of patients and staff work together in an open setting that is devoid of locks or privilege systems. It is “the intangibles that allow us to keep it open,” says David Mintz, MD, team leader and staff psychiatrist at Riggs.

  • Interns in Inn Living Room

    In the this video, Primary Charge Nurse Diane Heckman, RN; Mental Health Worker Brian O'Gara; and Mental Health Worker Jennifer Morse have a conversation about how they think about “examined living” at Riggs.

  • National Nurses Week 2014

    Nursing staff members discuss the unique way in which nursing is engaged in “a partnership with the patients.”

  • Austen Riggs nursing staff members talk about the challenging and rewarding work they do in a completely open setting.

    Nursing at Riggs is different from many other psychiatric settings. In this video series, Riggs nursing staff members engage in conversation about the challenging and rewarding work they do in a completely open and voluntary setting. 

  • The nursing staff at the Austen Riggs Center play an important role in the integrated treatment teams.

    Austen Riggs held a blog competition among staff members where we asked them to write about what nursing means at Riggs. This is winning blog number two, written by Carol Bersaw, Staff Nurse.

  • In Part 3 of our video series on nursing, Brian O'Gara talks about the many opportunities patients have to engage in activities outside of therapy

  • Community meeting

    In part two of our three part video series on nursing, Brian O'Gara outlines some of the unique aspects of the Therapeutic Community and reflects on what he enjoys most about working at Riggs.

  • Considering psychotherapy

    A person in a borderline state has had trouble in their primary relationship of dependency in life. Setting up an intensive psychotherapy invites them to depend on their therapist, thereby creating a situation, a charged situation to be sure, where the problems can be felt first hand and talked about. We can connect what happens in the therapy to the therapeutic relationship itself, and to other people in the patient's life.

  • Building a relationship

    Over the last two decades, there have been considerable pressures across American mental health care, to close and lock psychiatric facilities.  This has been driven by reimbursement models that hold hospital treatment to be unnecessary, unless the patient requires incarceration.  Further pressure to close treatment settings derive from a litigious culture which promotes a defensive practice of medicine.  In the face of these pressures, however, we at Riggs have maintained the highest commitment to the preservation of a completely open setting.  Why take these risks?

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