In Relational–Cultural Therapy, Judith V. Jordan explores the history, theory, and practice of this relationship-centered, culturally oriented form of therapy. Mainstream western psychological theories generally depict human development as moving from dependence to independence. In contrast, relational–cultural therapy is built on the premise that, throughout the lifespan, human beings grow through and toward connection, and that we need connections to flourish, even to stay alive. This theory views isolation as a major source of suffering for people, at both a personal and cultural level.
The goal of therapy is to deepen the therapeutic relationship and, ultimately, the client's relationships outside of therapy. Therapy focuses on a client's relational images—positive or negative expectations created by past relationships that in turn influence present and future relationships. Negative relational images often cause disconnection between people, so the relational–cultural therapist seeks to decrease the effect of these negative images and help the client to become more connected with others.
The theory behind this approach centers around positive interpersonal factors such as growth-fostering relationships and mutual empathy as well as cultural factors that facilitate validation and empowerment for marginalized populations. The approach seeks to reduce sources of individual isolation and social injustice, such as racism, classism, and homophobia, which contribute to chronic disconnection.
In this book, Dr. Jordan presents and explores this approach, its theory, history, the therapy process, primary change mechanisms, empirical basis, and future developments. This essential primer to relational–cultural therapy, amply illustrated with case examples, is perfect for graduate students studying theories of therapy and counseling as well as for seasoned practitioners interested in understanding this approach.
- The Therapy Process
- Future Developments
Glossary of Key Terms
About the Author
Judith V. Jordan, PhD, is the director of the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute and founding scholar at the Stone Center at Wellesley College. In addition to her position at the Wellesley Centers for Women, Dr. Jordan is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
After graduating Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, she earned her PhD in clinical psychology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she received special commendation for outstanding academic performance.
She was the director of psychology training as well as the director of the Women's Studies program at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Teaching Hospital. For the past 20 years she has worked with her colleagues Jean Baker Miller, Irene Stiver, and Jan Surrey on the development of what has come to be known as relational–cultural theory.
Dr. Jordan coauthored the book Women's Growth in Connection and edited Women's Growth in Diversity and The Complexity of Connection. She has published over 40 original reports and 25 chapters, and coauthored three books.
She is the recipient of the Massachusetts Psychology Association's Career Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Advancement of Psychology as a Science and a Profession. She was also selected as the Mary Margaret Voorhees Distinguished Professor at the Menninger School of Psychiatry and Mental Health Science in the spring of 1999. She received the annual psychiatric resident's "outstanding teacher of the year" award at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, and is included in Who's Who in America. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2001 from New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire, with "utmost admiration for [her] contribution to science and the practice of psychology." In 2002, Dr. Jordan received a Special Award from the Feminist Therapy Institute "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the development of feminist psychology."
She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session and the Journal of Creativity and Mental Health. She has written, lectured and conducted workshops nationally and internationally on the subjects of women's psychological development, gender differences, mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, empathy, psychotherapy, marginality, diversity, mutuality, courage, competence and connection, women's sexuality, gender issues in the workplace, relational practice in the workplace, new models of leadership, traumatic disconnections, conflict and competition, and a relational model of self. Dr. Jordan frequently serves as a resource for the press on these issues and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show.
- Relational–Cultural Therapy Over Time
In Relational–Cultural Therapy Over Time, Dr. Judith V. Jordan shows how this approach works and how it deepens the therapeutic relationship and the client's relationships outside of therapy.