Austen Riggs Center Staff Receive Prestigious Anna Freud Educational Achievement Award from the American Psychoanalytic Association



Stockbridge, MA – November 30, 2017Donna Elmendorf, PhD, Claudia Gold, MD, and Kate Jewson, BS, have been recognized for their work in the Human Development Strategic Initiative, receiving the prestigious Anna Freud Educational Achievement Award from the American Psychoanalytic Association’s (APsaA) Schools Committee.

This annual award is presented to a person, school, or educational institution that furthers psychoanalytically informed work with pre-K-12 educators, schools, and their students. The prize and the accompanying honorarium will be presented during APsaA’s National Meeting in February 2018. Founded in 1911, the American Psychoanalytic Association is the oldest national psychoanalytic organization in the United States.

In 2016, the Austen Riggs Center launched a Human Development Strategic Initiative, the goal of which is to bring a deep, psychoanalytic understanding of human development to address social problems in Berkshire County. In order to do so, the initiative is working in close partnership with existing community organizations, including the Chapter One initiative of Berkshire United Way, a broad community coalition of practitioners who interface with young children and families.

The program’s first project, The Discovering Your Baby Project, has as its centerpiece deepening the understanding and practice of infant mental health in Berkshire County through the use of the Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO) System. The NBO, a clinical adaptation of the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) developed by pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton, is explicitly designed not as an assessment, but as a relationship-building tool. It protects time to promote a parent’s curiosity about the meaning of his or her baby’s behavior, offering a space for listening to parent and baby together. The NBO is a family-focused intervention that can include mothers, fathers, siblings, and extended family. Thus far, a range of practitioners have been trained, including all maternity nurses at our local hospital (130-150 babies delivered each year), who have integrated the NBO into routine care.

According to Dr. Elmendorf, director of the Austen Riggs Center Therapeutic Community Program, Activities Program, and Human Development Initiative, “We recognize that the capacity for regulation of attention, behavior, and emotion that is essential for success in school is laid down in the moment-to-moment interactions between infants and their caregivers. All those working together in Berkshire County share a primary task of promoting healthy parent-infant relationships starting at birth.”

Dr. Gold, infant mental health specialist, adds, “Families from the full range of socioeconomic backgrounds in our community may have struggled with generations of mental illness, substance abuse, or other adverse childhood experiences. As a small rural community, we are able to offer a population-based, rather than risk-based intervention, normalizing and destigmatizing the challenges of the transition to parenthood.”

In making the award, John S. Tieman, PhD, chair of the awards sub-committee, noted: “We consider the work you are doing, through the Human Development Initiative centered in the Erikson Institute for Education and Research at Austen Riggs, to be of the highest standards in this field.”  

About the Austen Riggs Center

Austen Riggs Center, a leading psychiatric hospital and residential treatment program, has been serving adults since 1919. Within a completely open setting, patients are provided immersion in an intensive treatment milieu that emphasizes respectful engagement. Individual psychodynamic psychotherapy is provided four times a week by doctors on staff. The Erikson Institute for Education and Research of the Austen Riggs Center studies individuals in their social contexts through research, training, education, and outreach programs in the local community and beyond.

The Austen Riggs Center is located in Stockbridge, MA. For more information about its services, please call 413.298.5511 or 800.517.4447 or visit www.austenriggs.org.



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