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Activities Program

Innovative, unique, and deliberately separated from the intensive treatment atmosphere, the Activities Program offers you the opportunity to take up the role of student rather than patient in a wide variety of creative and intellectual pursuits.

Creative Expression and Personal Growth

Revolutionary in its conception, the Activities Program features artisans and teachers—specialists in their fields, and not trained as clinicians—who work with individuals and groups, opening possibilities for creative expression and the development of new skills.
“… art, crafts, drama, intellectual pursuits, involvement in the nursery school or greenhouse program are productive for personal growth and development in any individual. These activities … promote change in a positive direction, support competence, and enhance the dignity and identity of the person involved.”
– Joan Erikson, founder of the Activities Program and wife of past Riggs staff member Erik Erikson
You can take advantage of individual instruction and workshops in fiber arts, woodworking, ceramics, and visual arts in a dedicated studio space on Main Street, Stockbridge. Called “The Lavender Door,” the historic building is located beyond the main campus of Riggs, in the center of Stockbridge.

Riggs Theatre 37

A theater program is offered under the direction of Kevin Coleman, an award-winning director who also serves as the director of education at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. The program includes readings, rehearsals, in-house productions, and public performances that take place in the intimate, 75-seat theater, located on the second floor of the Lavender Door. Here you can immerse yourself in an enjoyable, in-depth experience of the actor’s craft: movement, voice training, and exploration of written text. Two main productions are staged each year, which are typically also open to outside actors and the public. The atmosphere is supportive, playful, and exciting, and previous acting experience is not required. Recent productions include Mary Zimmerman’s The Secret in the Wings, William Shakespeare’s Henry V, Tom Stoppard’s On the Razzle, and The Hamlet Project based on Shakespeare’s work.

The Greenhouse

The greenhouse provides a relaxing environment and an opportunity for you to dig in and enjoy caring for plants on the Stockbridge campus. Space is available throughout the year for private indoor gardens, while outdoor areas are designated for summer gardening, including raising organic vegetables that provide produce for the Riggs kitchen. Learn how to grow seedlings and care for a wide range of plants, and master techniques for propagation, as well as the art of flower arranging.
The Austen Riggs Nursery School
The Austen Riggs Nursery School fosters positive early learning experiences for local children, ages 2.9 years to kindergarten. In 1955 Joan Erikson described the motivation for establishing a nursery school within a psychiatric setting as a way for patients to experience childhood as observers and as participants. Here you can work as a teacher’s aide under the supervision of the school’s director.
Our Philosophy
It is the Nursery School's mission to provide a respectful, loving, nurturing environment to promote self-confidence, creativity, critical thinking skills, real-world experiences, and motivation for the love of learning.
Our children have incredible potential to be thoughtful, responsible, charitable, civic-minded, contributing members of our community. With our guidance and support, we empower them to connect with their potential by providing a foundation of opportunities to pique their curiosity and explore their interests.
To that end, we have a unique opportunity to provide the same supportive and nurturing environment for the staff who come to work with us. By providing this safe space, we create an experience for them that allows their growth and potential to flourish. Our professional teaching staff role model teamwork, developmentally appropriate practices, and quality program planning and curriculum inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to teaching and exploration through relationship building.
We align with the belief that every child be provided a solid foundation of social emotional skills which is done through the Second STEP Program. We practice yoga and mindfulness, continued English language acquisition as well as Spanish, science exploration, music and movement, arts, mathematics, and cultural studies. We assess each child for their individual abilities and design curriculum plans to meet their challenges and build on their strengths and areas of interest.
The children are exposed to hands-on experiences in ceramics, woodworking, fiber arts, gardening, theater, and visual arts provided by our professional Riggs Activities staff.
We ask parents to join us in this journey of exploration and curiosity, and to share in the joys of childhood.
The Austen Riggs Nursery School offers children the opportunity to learn and grow together. For information about enrollment, contact Director Sarah Muil at 413.931.5288.
School Schedule and Cost
The Austen Riggs Nursery School academic year runs from September through June, with a July Summer program available. Enrollment for this school year is closed, but if you are interested in being on a waiting list, please contact Director Sarah Muil at 413.931.5288, by email, or fill out a waiting list form (link below). Please email or mail the form to Sarah Muil.
Your child must be at least 2.9 years old to be able to attend the school. Half-day and full-day enrollments are available. We ask that your child sign up for a minimum of four half days or four full days.
In general, the Austen Riggs Nursery School follows the Berkshire Hills Regional School District calendar. When the Berkshire Hills Regional School District closes due to inclement weather, the Austen Riggs Nursery School will be closed.
Drop off: 8:15-8:45 a.m.
Morning session: 8:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Half-day pick up: 12:15-12:45 p.m.
Afternoon session: 12:45-3:30 p.m.
Full-day pick up: 3:30-4:00 p.m.*
*Please pick up your child prior to 4:00 p.m.
$50.00/day for half-day enrollment
$50.00/day for full-day enrollment
Payment Schedule
Tuition is billed monthly for scheduled enrollment days, even if your child is absent. For any issues related to finances, please contact Donna Plankey in the Austen Riggs Center Business Office at 413.931.5207.
Please make checks payable to: The Austen Riggs Center, Inc.
Scholarships and fee reduction forms are available upon request.
View our waitlist form or download it below:
View our rate sheet or download it below:

Admission Process

If other treatments haven’t worked, Riggs may be right for you. Unlike some other psychiatric hospitals in Massachusetts or elsewhere, our relational, patient-centered treatment approach addresses underlying issues, not just symptoms.

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