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 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.
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.