Staff News

  • Richard Q. Ford, who ran the psychological testing service at Austen Riggs for over 20 years, died peacefully on April 25. During the past several months, he faced death calmly with his family at his side, exchanging notes and letters with many former students, patients, colleagues, and friends who have known and loved him during his long life. 

  • Austen Riggs Center Greenhouse Instructor Sandy Dawson talks about the role of gardening and the greenhouse as part of the Activities Program at Riggs.

    Those beautiful flowers on the tables, the well-tended plants in the Inn, the delicious vegetables prepared in the kitchen—Austen Riggs has its own “garden-to-table” initiative, courtesy of patients who tend plants in our greenhouse and garden as students of Greenhouse Instructor Sandy Dawson.

  • As we approach the end of 2018, we thought we’d look back over some of our more popular blogs and blog series from this year. 

    Below are five of the most popular blogs from January to June of this year: 

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

    Austen Riggs Center staff member Barbara Keegan writes about why she donates to Riggs in support of suicide research. 

  • Katie Lewis, PhD, is a research psychologist at the Austen Riggs Center.

    Katie Lewis, PhD, research psychologist at the Austen Riggs Center, has received the competitive Young Investigator Innovation Grant from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) for her study: “Impact of Interpersonal Experiences on Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors.” Dr. Lewis’ study was one of fewer than ten chosen out of 175 applications. 

  • Community meeting

    Austen Riggs Center staff members share why their work makes a difference.

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

    The Austen Riggs Center’s Board of Trustees announced today the appointment of Eric M. Plakun, MD, as medical director/CEO. 

  • Cheryl Puntil, MN, APRN, PMH-CNS, BC, is the chief nursing officer at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA.

    A national leader in psychiatric nursing, Cheryl Puntil has never lost touch with her bedside manner.

    “This is everything I wanted—the culmination of my career,” says Cheryl Puntil about her new role as Chief Nursing Officer at the Austen Riggs Center. She arrived in Stockbridge in late summer, prepared by a long and distinguished career in psychiatric nursing and confident that “all of my experiences brought me to this.” 

  • Why Paid Parental Leave Matters

    The Board of Trustees of the Austen Riggs Center recently approved a new parental leave policy for Riggs employees that grants new mothers, fathers, and adoptive and foster parents up to nine weeks of fully paid leave (above and beyond any accrued paid time off) during the first year with their new child. 

  • Dr. Roy Schafer was a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst who understood much about psychoanalytic change while living through many changing times.

    Dr. Roy Schafer, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst who understood much about psychoanalytic change while living through many changing times, died on August 5, 2018, at the age of 95. He will be remembered for his pioneering work in psychological diagnostic assessment and for his seminal reconceptualization of psychoanalysis in the terms of “action language” in relation to subjective experience.



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