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The Riggs Difference

Our open setting is what makes our treatment approach different: You are free to engage with other patients and staff in a therapeutic community to find meaning in your lived experience.

What Makes Riggs Different?

At the Austen Riggs Center, our treatment environment has no locked doors, privilege systems, or physical restraints. Instead, we hold those who come for treatment responsible for balancing their freedom with responsibility. Collaborative relationships are key–with staff and other patients. We help you take charge of your life when other psychiatric treatments have not worked.
At the center of your treatment is intensive psychodynamic psychotherapy four times a week with a doctoral-level clinician.
What exactly is psychodynamic psychotherapy? It’s therapy that recognizes that symptoms, problems, and struggles have meaning and that learning about their meaning–especially meaning that is outside our awareness–allows us to see our struggles in context and make better choices based on new learning about ourselves. The optimal environment for such learning includes a safe, trusting relationship with a skilled therapist and membership in a community of others involved in similar work. Through understanding and through being understood, most people find they can make clearer choices, take charge of their lives, build healthier relationships, and feel better.
There are around 300 published, peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that psychodynamic therapy works for people with a range of specific disorders and people with complex and co-occurring disorders. When compared to other forms of therapy, many of which focus on symptoms more than on meaning, psychodynamic therapy has been found to be equally effective. Among people struggling with several co-occurring disorders, those receiving longer-term psychodynamic therapy had better outcomes than 90% of those receiving other treatments.
The Riggs Difference
At Riggs, you’ll find an open setting that promotes patient autonomy as you uncover the meanings behind your symptoms through a therapist-patient relationship and a community of people dedicated to mutual learning and support.
Voluntary, Open Setting
Our open setting is an essential part of our treatment approach. Freedom to make choices here can be a step toward deeper understanding and living more fully. In this voluntary treatment environment, we work together to help you reconnect with your inner strengths, build healthy relationships, and find a renewed sense of purpose.
Finding Meaning in Behavior
Working with your therapist, other clinicians on the treatment team, other members of the therapeutic community, and (for many people) members of your family, you can identify patterns of feeling and behavior you might never have been aware of. Revealing the story from the past that is buried in present problems can mark the beginning of your path forward.
Importance of Relationships
Developing satisfying relationships is a primary goal of the Riggs treatment approach. Your therapist will help guide you toward greater self-awareness, supported by an interdisciplinary team that includes nursing, clinical social work, and other staff. Exploring relationships with family, friends, and other patients during treatment is also often an essential part of your Riggs experience.
Taking Charge of Treatment
No two people are identical—why should their treatment programs be? At Riggs, we respect each patient’s autonomy, so you’ll help design your own course of treatment and join other patients and staff in the decision-making that shapes the Riggs community. You’ll discover that taking charge of your treatment is the first step toward retaking control of your life.

Disorders We Treat

Our approach helps you better understand yourself and your relationships. In doing so, you can then find your own path to recovery from many types of mental health disorders.

*Although we don’t offer treatment to people whose substance use disorder (SUD) is active or primary, many of those struggling with mental disorders have co-occurring SUDs.

People We Treat

At Riggs, we welcome adults (age 18 and up) from across the country and around the world who seek a self-directed behavioral treatment approach to help them return to a more satisfying life. Our intensive residential treatment is for people who are not in acute crisis, but for whom outpatient treatment just isn’t enough.

I look at Riggs as the place that broke my fall. In giving me the space to discover my competency, I found my voice. I started by expressing my anger about almost everything. But this expression opened many doors for me. From there, I broke the downward spiral."
- CJ, Former Patient
More Patient Outcomes

Your Treatment Experience

While your treatment will reflect your own choices, all of our residential treatment programs start with intensive psychodynamic psychotherapy as the core, and include a range of complementary elements.

Initial Evaluation & Treatment
Your first six weeks at Riggs will let you settle in, and begin getting to know fellow residents and letting yourself be known.
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Former Patient Stories
Former Patient Stories

Former Patient Stories

Hear first-hand from Austen Riggs Center Alumni about their experiences before, during, and after treatment at Riggs.

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.

Learn More About Admission

Speak with Admissions

From first contact to consultation, follow the steps in our admission process.

Contact Us for More

For more information on our residential treatment programs, or answers to any questions, please feel free to contact us.