Open Setting

  • Austen Riggs Center former patient Nina Gutin, PhD, reflects on her time at Riggs and what she learned while in treatment.

    I was a patient at Austen Riggs many years ago. Shortly after I “graduated,” I was asked to help start a patient “Alumni” network at Riggs, which is still ongoing. I decided to become a psychologist myself and now maintain an involvement with Austen Riggs on a professional level. With the perspective of someone who has been “on both sides of the couch,” I have strong feelings about my treatment then, and for what continues to pass as “treatment as usual” in the majority of contemporary treatment settings.  

  • In March, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency for the Commonwealth in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. The order was for all non-essential businesses to close, for residents to limit unnecessary travel, and recommendations were given about social distancing. Designated as an essential behavioral healthcare facility, the Austen Riggs Center is adhering to the state guidelines. Riggs stopped taking new admissions, began using video conferencing for some group and individual meetings, restricted visitors from coming on campus, and instructed patients that they could no longer travel back and forth from the outside community to the Riggs campus. 

  • Heather Forouhar Graff, MD, is a psychiatry Fellow in psychoanalytic studies at the Austen Riggs Center.

    Dr. Heather Forouhar Graff, a psychiatry Fellow at the Austen Riggs Center, talks about some of the long-term benefits for psychiatry Fellows who train and practice in Riggs’ unique setting. 

  • The Austen Riggs Center has a therapeutic community in an open treatment setting.

    Entering the open setting here at Riggs produces a kind of culture shock—this holds for patients, for their families, and for new staff. As a psychiatric hospital, Riggs is unique, and it is the open setting that makes it unique: no locked wards, no security guards, no pass system. Patients have cars, hold jobs, come and go to college, sit (or work) in the coffee shop down the street.

  • Conference

    The Therapeutic Community Program at the Austen Riggs Center provides an opportunity for patients to share their strengths with one another and with the staff in a partnership of mutual problem solving and learning. This exploration of strengths has, in different ways, always been a key component of the treatment philosophy from Riggs’ founding in 1919 to its present form today. 

  • Director of Admissions Dr. Samar Habl talks about the admissions process and who should consider treatment at the Austen Riggs Center.

    Samar Habl, MD, director of admissions at the Austen Riggs Center, talks about who should consider treatment at Riggs, what the admissions process entails, and the importance of negotiating a partnership during the admissions consultation.

  • The Austen Riggs Center is a psychiatric treatment hospital with an open setting.

    As we approach the end of 2017, we thought we’d look back over some of our more popular blogs and blog series from this year.

    Here are five of the most popular blogs from October through December of this year.

  • Austen Riggs Center Admissions Brochure - Learn More.

    Austen Riggs Center Admissions Brocure and Orientation for Families describing treatment for complex psychiatric problems now available online.

  • Medical Director/CEO Andrew J. Gerber, MD, PhD, talks about what the open setting at the Austen Riggs Center stands for and what it has to offer in today’s mental health landscape.

  • The Austen Riggs Center is an open psychiatric treatment setting located in Stockbridge, MA.

    Locked psychiatric units are no better than open units at preventing suicide, according to a large 15-year observational study published this month in the British medical journal The Lancet Psychiatry. In addition, the results of the study suggest that patients in open units are less likely to attempt suicide or to run away from the hospital (with or without returning) than patients in locked units.



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