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Supporting Psychotherapy Interest for Psychiatrists-in-Training

May 24, 2022
Facing an accelerating mental health crisis brought on by the pandemic, political and social upheaval, an uncertain economy, and other pressing issues, increasing numbers of people are seeking meaningful treatment through psychotherapy, according to several recent studies. 
The Austen Riggs Center, long a voice for psychodynamic approaches to treatment that work to uncover and explore underlying causes for mental distress, shares concern about this trend and aims to address it in several ways, including endowing a multi-year fellowship at the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP), to support psychiatry residents who have a particular interest in psychotherapy.
Riggs joins other leading organizations such as the Menninger Clinic, Sheppard & Enoch Pratt Hospital, the Institute of Living, and others in sponsoring the GAP Fellowship Program.
Since 1957, GAP has chosen outstanding psychiatry residents nominated by programs across the US and Canada to be GAP Fellows. Candidates are selected for their extraordinary ability and because of their potential to be leaders in the field. Indeed, prior GAP Fellows have become presidents of the American Psychiatric Association and serve as leaders of other important organizations.
Currently, there are 14 GAP Fellows, funded by a variety of organizations, foundations, and individual donors. Each Fellowattends four semi-annual meetings, works with a GAP committee on its current projects, and has several opportunities to meet and work collaboratively with some of the leading psychiatrists in North America while developing relationships with other outstanding residents.
The Austen Riggs Center has made a one-time gift of $50,000 to establish an ongoing Austen Riggs Fellow*. “Because of Rigg's expertise in the power of the psychotherapeutic method, we plan to make appointments of each Austen Riggs Fellow to the Committee on Psychotherapy, one of our most productive committees,” stated John Looney, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Duke University and former GAP president. Selection of the first Austen Riggs Fellow will occur in the next rotation.
“Supporting the GAP Fellowship program is a natural fit for Riggs,” said Medical Director/CEO Eric M. Plakun, MD. “Riggs has long stood for enhancing psychodynamic psychiatry and a biopsychosocial perspective. Designating an Austen Riggs Fellow as part of the GAP Fellowship Program offers psychiatrists-in-training who are interested in psychotherapy the opportunity to learn, grow and contribute by working with senior psychiatrists with careers committed to psychotherapy research, education, and practice.” 
* The Austen Riggs Fellow associated with the GAP Fellowship Program is separate and apart from Riggs’ own accredited Fellowship Program for psychiatrists and psychologists. 
About GAP
GAP is the oldest honorary organization in American Psychiatry. It was started after the Second World War by distinguished psychiatrists who returned from the conflict with new knowledge and experience. It was set up in intensive study committees to write books and reports to improve and modernize the profession. Its purpose now, as it was then, is still the same; it serves as the Think Tank of American Psychiatry.  More information about GAP can be found here.
About Training and Education at Riggs
Supporting and stewarding the next generation of mental health professionals is a core value at the Austen Riggs Center, realized through the work of our Erikson Institute (EI) for Research, Education, and Advocacy.
Some of our formal commitments to training and education include: