Ten Years of Growth in Connection
June 13, 2005
Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT), a groundbreaking theory that proposes that all people develop psychologically in and toward connections with others, has been the primary focus for exploration and successful application by the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI), a program of the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) that recognizes its tenth anniversary this summer.
"Indeed, in recent years, many researchers and other professionals have been validating this approach," notes Jean Baker Miller, M.D., director of the JBMTI, of RCT and author of the acclaimed book, "Toward a New Psychology of Women." "These studies demonstrate that brains develop only if they have interaction with other people."
While work surrounding RCT began with studies on a psychological level, it has also extended to studies of how valuable connections can enlighten and benefit the work of organizations.
"Over the past ten years, the JBMTI has reached thousands of mental health professionals with the message of growth in connection," states Judith Jordan, Ph.D., founding scholar and co-director of the Institute. "While we are invested in training clinicians and shifting psychological theory, we are also seeing shifts in an appreciation of the centrality of relationship~in organizational theory and practice."
JBMTI scholars and affiliates have delineated more precisely the qualities that create growth-fostering connections and those factors that interfere with such connections and lead to disconnections, and they have formulated methods of ameliorating such disconnection.
" When the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute was established here at the Wellesley Centers for Women ten years ago, it marked an important step in the development and dissemination of relational-cultural theory," says Susan Bailey, Ph.D., executive director of WCW.
Relational-cultural theory has been a well known facet of our work for almost 20 years. The formation of the Institute has provided an opportunity to further not only the work buts its application and influence."
With the vision to promote optimal human development, enhance health care and societal wellbeing by supporting the growth of relationships based on respect, empathy, and justice, future JBMTI endeavors include:
- expanding research and theory on the psychology of connection;
- engaging social equity issues to eradicate cultural schism and power differentials that undermine human potential;
- teaching and training health practitioners, educators, business professionals, students, parents, and other community members; and
- developing teaching materials and other resources accessible to practitioners working in diverse communities throughout the country and around the world.
"The Institute offers a practical understanding of how relational development can strengthen the resilience and psychological wellbeing of people throughout their lives," observes Linda Hartling, Ph.D., JBMTI associate director. "And, everyone – from parents to politicians – can promote the growth-fostering benefits of relationships through practice and action."
Devoted practitioners joined researchers, friends and donors in celebrating the Institute's tenth anniversary on Friday, June 24th at the Wellesley College Club. A major part of the evening served as a tribute to Dr. Baker Miller whose innovative work led to the establishment of the JBMTI.
The work of the JBMTI has resulted in the publication of several books and more than 100 working papers. The Institute’s professional trainings, publications, groundbreaking research, and ongoing projects present a revolutionary approach to enhancing mental health as well as business practices and productivity of industries and organizations of all types and sizes. The Wellesley Centers for Women is dedicated to shaping the world through research and action, and is the largest, women-run research organization of its kind.
For more information, call (781) 283-3800.