Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) is based on the premise that psychological and emotional growth occurs in relationship and that all people yearn for connection. Empathy is at the foundation of this theory and connection is viewed as the energy that makes change possible. The theory, based on the work of the late Jean Baker Miller, also explores how cultural factors influence behaviors and expectations in relationships. This theory examines notions of self, autonomy, independence, individuation, power and competition. The work of therapy, as defined by this theory, is the creation of a growth-fostering relationship between therapist and client built on mutual empathy and authentic connection.
According to Miller, Five Good Things are consequences of growth-fostering relationships:
- A sense of zest or well-being that comes from interactions with others
- The ability and motivation to take positive action in service of self and others
- Knowledge of oneself and others
- Increased sense of self worth
- Increased relational competence and courage
As a Relational-Cultural therapist, my work would include an exploration of your history and the cultural context in which you live. Together we would examine your perceptions, beliefs, and relational experiences to understand how you see yourself and expand possibilities for self-expression and self-empowerment. Healthy, satisfying connections are about being seen, accepted, and loved for who we are. Healthy, satisfying relationships encourage us to extend our authentic selves to others. We can find respectful ways to navigate inevitable conflicts as we relate across our differences, embrace vulnerability, develop strength and resilience and create profound mutual healing through genuine caring.