JBMTI Blog

The Jean Baker Miller Training Institute is proud to welcome you to the JBMTI Blog! Our hope is to create a place where the JBMTI community can visit often to check out the latest news on Relational-Cultural Theory practitioners, events, applications, and inspirations.

Please feel free to send us any ideas for posts to jbmti@wellesley.edu.

Recent blog posts

Marking the 17th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) helps us both appreciate the great strides that have been made in addressing all types of violence against women and recognize the fact that more needs to be done to create a society free from domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) remains committed to addressing these crimes in a broad and comprehensive manner. (- Excerpt from The White House website)

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JBMI Faculty and staff will be presenting at an exciting array of conferences and trainings in the 2011-2012 academic year in addition to our Introductory and Intensive Institutes and webinars. Below is the current list:

8th annual Human Trafficking, Prostitution, and Sex Work Conference
Details: Kate Price, M.A., presenter; September 28-30, 2011; University of Toledo, OH

21st annual Renfrew Center Foundation Eating Disorders Conference for Professionals
Details: Amy Banks, Ph.D., keynote; November 11-12, 2011; Philadelphia, PA

How Connections Heal: Founding Concepts and Practical Applications of Relational-Cultural Theory
Details: Maureen Walker, Ph.D., keynote; January 27, 2012; St. Paul, MN

Wellesley Centers for Women Brown Bag Lecture Series
Details: Kate Price, M.A., presenter; March 15, 2012; Wellesley, MA

Psychotherapy Networker Symposium 2012
Details: Amy Banks, Ph.D., keynote; March 22-25, 2012; Washington, D.C.

International Conference: A Relational-Cultural Approach to Addressing Violence Against Women and Children - Human Trafficking
Details: Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D., Amy Banks, M.D., & Maureen Walker, Ph.D., keynotes and Kate Price, M.A., presenter; April 19-21, 2012; HAWK University, Bremen, Germany

Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association's 2012 Annual Conference
Details: Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D., keynote; May 24-27, 2012; Calgary, Alberta

For more information visit our Upcoming Events page

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Women in the military who are sexually assaulted or harassed face obstacles not seen in the civilian workplace. They can’t decide to take time off or quit, often have no way to avoid a predatory colleague or supervisor, and certainly in combat zones, no way to visit the human resources department. They often work in a culture that has long tolerated misogynistic behavior. And they can be further traumatized by the indifference or hostility of the bureaucracy that is supposed to help them.

Servicewomen and veterans say they often struggle unsuccessfully to obtain health care and benefits related to sexual violence they endured while in uniform. The Service Women’s Action Network, an advocacy group, last year sued the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs under the Freedom of Information Act for documentation on their handling of sexual assaults. The group says the V.A.’s own data bears out the charge of unfair treatment. While the Veterans Benefits Administration approves 53 percent of all claims related to post-traumatic stress disorder, it accepts far fewer claims — only 32 percent — when the P.T.S.D. is related to sexual trauma. (Excerpt from the NY Times, September 11, 2011)

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Elizabeth Warren has yet to officially declare that she is running for US Senate, but the former presidential aide took another step yesterday toward fortifying her position as the choice of the Democratic establishment - a trend that is beginning to wear on the Democrats who have already entered the race.

Introducing Warren at the annual Labor Day breakfast yesterday, the president of the Greater Boston Labor Council compared her to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, while the state's top union and Democratic political leaders stood and applauded her fiery keynote address at the event.

It was her most public introduction to date after a month of invitation-only house parties. But she has yet to face audiences outside her party’s core liberal base.

Three of the other Democratic candidates in the field trying to unseat Republican Scott Brown were left to mingle on the sidelines of the Park Plaza ballroom as Warren stood beside Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray, and other party notables on a stage in front of about 500 union leaders. - Excerpt from The Boston Globe (Photo credit: Aram for The Boston Globe)

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Miss Representation is a recent documentary exploring how the media contribute to inhibiting women from gaining roles of power.  The film , written, directed and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Jean Kilboourne, the presenter of the third Jean Baker Miller Memorial Lecture, is interviewed in the film.

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The Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI) offers a free Work in Progress paper, selected from our many publications, to our website visitors. The chosen free download may be one completed recently, one of our classic groundbreaking works, or one that is applicable to current issues we face today. You can be sure that the free download will be a valuable resource.

We hope that by reading JBMTI publications, you will gain an understanding of the complexity, depth, and importance of the work undertaken by the researchers and program staff at JBMTI.

This month's featured download:
"Men's Psychological Development: A Relational Perspective," by Stephen Bergman, M.D.

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Registrations for our Introductory Institute from October 21-23, 2011 are pouring in. Please make sure you register today to reserve your spot.

An added feature to this year's Institute is that our Jean Baker Miller Memorial Lecturer, Dr. Lyn Mikel Brown, will be joining us the Saturday morning of the Institute to discuss her work with adolescent girls. Dr. Brown is the author of Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection among Girls, and the co-creator of Hardy Girls, Healthy Women.

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Registration is now available online for the 2011 Introductory Institute and for the Director's Webinar Series featuring Dr. Judith V. Jordan.

The Introductory Institute, from October 21-23, 2011 at Wellesley College, is a unique opportunity for the intensive study of Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) and its direct applications in the world. This approach rests on the premise that growth-fostering connections are the central human necessity and disconnections is the primary source of human suffering. In particular, relationships are profoundly influenced by cultural contexts.

And Dr. Jordan, the American Psychological Association's 2010 Psychotherapist of the Year, will present the following webinars:

Empowering Relationships, Expanding Human Possibility
September, 16, 2011

Mutual Empathy: Healing Through and Toward Connection
November 18, 2011

Challenging the Isolating Power of Shame
December 9, 2011

Register today!

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The lack of empathy shown by the rioters is terrible to see. A much distributed film features Ashraf Haziq, a bleeding young man with a broken jaw who was helped to his feet by seemingly concerned men, so that they could calmly rifle his rucksack and take those of his belongings that they wanted. Those people literally wanted to help themselves, and not others. That little film was a dark synecdoche of such attitudes, which are common throughout our society, not only among looters. Likewise, it is not only the rich who resent paying tax. In a film of the Clapham Junction disturbances, Sky News reporter Mark Stone challenged a woman who had just been looting the clothes-store TK Maxx. She was getting her taxes back, she blithely explained. Again, that is a common attitude.

Everyone needs to take responsibility. There can be no excuses for the rich, and no excuses for the poor either. Above all, it is simply practical to organise society so that everyone feels that they can attain some kind of stake in it, achieve some sense of responsible agency, however modest. The events of the past few days ought at least to bring home that it is simply dangerous, never mind unnecessary and wantonly cruel, to maintain a society that is inherently unstable, because those at its margins can so easily become petty, or not so petty, insurgents.

One thing ought to be crystal-clear now. Social and economic exclusion damages people, who want to do damage in turn. That opportunistic looters exist, in such numbers, is ghastly evidence of a host of societal flaws and ruptures – not least among them educational and parental failures. It's time to stop the petty, adversarial debates, and work at getting everyone possible on board to fix this. (Excerpt of Guardian column by social and political commentator Deborah Orr; Photo credit Matt Dunham/AP)

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Doing research on an RCT-related project? You can now search through the more than 6,500 journal articles, books, and papers citing the works of JBMI Founding Scholars and Faculty since 1976. Click here for Research Connections, a PDF compendium of these citations. (Please note: This list of citations is by no means exhaustive, and we have found sporadic errors. Please feel free to contact us with any changes and/or any additions.)

Good luck with your research!

 

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For those of us hoping to keep our brains fit and healthy well into middle age and beyond, the latest science offers some reassurance. Activity appears to be critical, though scientists have yet to prove that exercise can ward off serious problems like Alzheimer’s disease. But what about the more mundane, creeping memory loss that begins about the time our 30s recede, when car keys and people’s names evaporate? It’s not Alzheimer’s, but it’s worrying. Can activity ameliorate its slow advance — and maintain vocabulary retrieval skills, so that the word “ameliorate” leaps to mind when needed?

Obligingly, a number of important new studies have just been published that address those very questions. In perhaps the most encouraging of these, Canadian researchers measured the energy expenditure and cognitive functioning of a large group of elderly adults over the course of two to five years. Most of the volunteers did not exercise, per se, and almost none worked out vigorously. Their activities generally consisted of “walking around the block, cooking, gardening, cleaning and that sort of thing,” said Laura Middleton, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and lead author of the study, which was published last week in Archives of Internal Medicine.

But even so, the effects of this modest activity on the brain were remarkable, Dr. Middleton said. While the wholly sedentary volunteers, and there were many of these, scored significantly worse over the years on tests of cognitive function, the most active group showed little decline. About 90 percent of those with the greatest daily energy expenditure could think and remember just about as well, year after year. (Excerpt from NY Times Well blog, Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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This video is speaking about a recent study, "Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don't Buy Sex: 'You can have a good time with the servitude' vs. 'You're supporting a system of degradation,'" completed by Melissa Farley, Emily Schuckman, Jacqueline M. Golding, Kristen Houser, Laura Jarrett, Peter Qualliotine, Michele Decker. A paper regarding the study was also presented at Psychologists for Social Responsibility Annual Meeting July 15, 2011, Boston.

Read the entire study

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We are pleased to announce the 2012 Intensive Institute will take place June 21-24, 2012 at the Wellesley College Club on the Wellesley College campus. More details to follow in the coming months. We hope to see you next June!

The Introductory Institute is a unique opportunity for the intensive study of Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) and its direct applications in the world. This approach rests on the premise that growth-fostering connections are the central human necessity and disconnections is the primary source of human suffering. In particular, relationships are profoundly influenced by cultural contexts.

In addition to interactive presentations and workshops led by Institute Faculty, learning activities will include small and large group case discussions, community-building, role-plays, and multi-media presentations. Ideal for clinicians, social workers, educators, organizational leaders, and parents. Some knowledge of the Relational-Cultural Model is helpful.

This year's Introductory Institute participants will also have the opportunity to hear Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. present this year's Jean Baker Miller Memorial Lecture the evening of Friday, October 21, 2011 (the first night of the Institute). Dr. Brown will speak about her ground-breaking work on girls' voice and visibility.

14 CEUs awarded to Institute participants (NASW, APA, LMHC, LMFT)

Download the full schedule and brochure now

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Summer is in full swing in New England, and JBMI is ready to join in the fun. We will not be posting on the blog for the next few weeks as staff taking summer vacations. We wish everyone a happy and healthy summer!

The office will remain open, though, if you need to reach JBMI. Please feel free to call our main number at 781-283-3800 or email us at jbmti@wellesley.edu.

Thanks!

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Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's Intensive Institute. We hope that the connections and inspiration from this weekend will energize your daily work. We hope to see you next summer!

 

United Nations:  There was a sense of disbelief among ministers and ambassadors from diverse nations when the chairperson of the 11th Info-Poverty World Conference held at the United Nations introduced the jeans-clad Chhavi Rajawat as head of a village in India.

For, from a distance one could easily mistake Rajawat, an articulate, computer-savvy woman, for a frontline model or at least a Bollywood actress. But she is
sarpanch of Soda village, 60 kilometres from Jaipur, in backward Rajasthan and the changing face of growing dynamic rural India.

30-year-old Rajawat, India's youngest and the only MBA to become a village head -- the position mostly occupied by elders, quit her senior management position with Bharti-Tele Ventures of Airtel Group to serve her beloved villagers as
sarpanch.

Rajawat participated in a panel discussion at the two-day meet at the UN on March 24 and 25 on how civil society can implement its actions and spoke on the role of civil society in fighting poverty and promoting development. - Excerpt NDTV.com (New Delhi Television)

Read the full article

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JBMTI Director Judith V. Jordan was recently added to Wikipedia, and we would love your input in adding your favorite books, journal articles, quotes, events, and any other information you would like to include. As a pioneer in psychology, we would love for her page to reflect the countless lives her work has touched.

Visit Judy's Wikipedia page

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Last call for the Intensive Institute from June 23-26, 2011. The entire JBMI team is so excited that the Institute is right around the corner. We cannot wait to hear more about the incredible work the participants who are already registered are doing. We hope you join us, and register today!

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Manal al-Sharif, a 32-year-old Internet consultant and activist, was recently detained in Saudi Arabia for driving. She was released after one week, and stated she would never drive again. 

The video below of Manal al-Sharif driving was recorded by a fellow activist Wajiha Howeidar, and posted on You Tube as a tool to organize other women to protest the driving ban. The video was taken down by the Saudi Arabian government, however, copies have resurfaced.

Read a full summary of events

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Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

Clips from the upcoming documentary exploring the deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color---particularly dark skinned women, outside of and within the Black American culture.

This film will be released in Fall/Winter 2011. Please "Like" the Dark Girls page on Facebook, we will keep you updated with news there.

Directed by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry
Produced by Bill Duke for Duke Media
and D. Channsin Berry for Urban Winter Entertainment
Co-Produced by Bradinn French
Line Produced by Cheryl L. Bedford
Edited by Bradinn French

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The new free paper is available to download on our Free Download page under publications: "Relational Development: Therapeutic Implications of Empathy and Shame" by Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D.

NPR's Fresh Air recently aired a beautiful interview with Toronto's The Globe and Mail reporter Ian Brown about the grace needed to raise his severely disabled son, Walker. Brown has written a new memoir, The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son. The interview is a striking example of parenting (and living) with empathy and humility.

When he was 8 months old, Walker Brown was diagnosed with cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome (CFC), a rare disorder that left him with severe cognitive, developmental and physical disabilities. By the time he was 3 years old, his father says, his medical chart was 10 pages long.

Now 15, Walker wears diapers and an apparatus on his wrists that prevents him from hitting and scratching himself. Developmentally, his age is between 1 and 3, and he will require constant care for the rest of his life.

"He can't speak," his father, Ian Brown, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "He can't do a lot of things — he can't swallow, so he's fed through a tube. We don't know how well he sees or hears. We know he sees and we know he hears, and I think it might be getting a bit better, but because he can't talk, he just has no way of rationally communicating — so we spent a long time trying to figure out other ways to connect."

Brown has spent years trying to learn about his son's condition, a rare genetic mutation that affects only 300 people in the world. He writes about his journey raising Walker — and his mission to find the answers to both medical and philosophical questions — in his new memoir, The Boy in the Moon. - Excerpt from NPR's Fresh Air

Listen to the full interview

The first edition of Toward a New Psychology of Women, the book that launched Jean Baker Miller's career and serves as a keystone of JBMTI’s work, was published in 1976. Since then the book has sold over 200,000 copies, been translated into 20 languages, and been published in 12 countries. A second edition with a new forward by Jean Baker Miller was published in 1987. Both editions combined have been cited in more than 3,000 books, journal articles, and dissertations.

Most notable of these citations are landmark books In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development by Carol Gilligan, Women’s Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind by Mary Belenky, and Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons. Additional acclaimed authors and academics who have cited the book are Lyn Mikel Brown, Nancy Chodorow, Riane Eisler, Judith Herman, Jean Kilbourne, Harriet Lerner, and William Pollock.

Over the decades, countless women told Jean either in person or writing, “Your book changed my life.” Thanks to the lasting impact and reach of her work, such change continues today.

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Thank you to everyone who attended our final webinar of our Brain in Connection series this morning, and to all who participated during the 2010-2011 season. We look forward to presenting new webinars with JBMI Director and Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D during our 2011-2012 season. Following is a sneak preview of this Director's Series, which opens Friday, September 16, 2011 with Empowering Relationships, Expanding Human Possibility. Registration will open mid-August.

Sneak Preview: 2011-2012 Webinar Series
All three webinars will be presented by JBMI Director Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D.
Empowering Relationships, Expanding Human Possibility - 9/16/11
Mutual Empathy: Healing Through and Toward Connection - 11/18/11
Challenging the Isolating Power of Shame 12/9/11

Stay tuned for more information and registration


Friday is our final webinar in The Healing Brain Series!  It Is Never Too Late to Change: Neuroplasticity and The Hope of Change will be presented from 11am-12:30pm EST. We've posted the following recent Q &A with Dr. Amy Banks a sneak preview of how accessible she makes the language of neurobiology.

Humans are hardwired for connection? Neurobiology 101 for parents, educators, & the general public

Q&A with Amy Banks , M.D., director of Advanced Training at the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at the Wellesley Centers for Women ; instructor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; co-editor of The Complete Guide to Mental Health for Women; and author of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Relationships and Brain Chemistry.

Q: Why is the field of neuroscience so important to understanding the necessity of human relationships to overall well-being?

Dr. Banks: Due to a series of seminal studies and research, neuroscience is confirming our entire autonomic nervous system wants us to connect with other human beings. Of particular importance are mirror neurons, which are throughout our brain and allow us to read behavior. They are the basis of empathy – so that when you watch my face as I am talking I can watch your face and I can see that when I am more animated your face gets more animated. It’s that automatic moment-to-moment resonance that connects us. There have been studies that look at emotions in human beings such as disgust, shame, happiness, where the exact same areas of the brain light up in the listener who is reading the feelings of the person talking. We are, literally, hardwired to connect.

Q: So what happens when people are not connected?

Dr. Banks: One of the seminal studies in Relational-Cultural Neurobiology is something called SPOT (Social Pain Overlap) Theory. A group of researchers at UCLA, looked at the overlap between social pain and physical pain. They designed a benign computerized experiment that gradually excluded people from a multi-player game. What they found was the area that lit up in the brain for that kind of social rejection, the anterior singulate, was the exact same area that lights up for the distress of physical pain. So the distress of social pain is biologically identical to the distress of physical pain. Most people in our culture understand that physical pain is a major stressor, but we reject the idea of social pain. This impacts our society on a grand scale with in instances such as racism or homophobia: all of those ways that we divide our social structures. We leave out people all of the time: it’s how we define ourselves.  Rather than inclusion, it’s who’s excluded.

Q: So this brain’s activity can negatively impact a person’s physical health as well?

Dr. Banks: Yes, being pushed out of social relationships and into isolation is going to have health ramifications. In fact, there was a book done by health advocate Dr. Dean Ornish, called Love and Survival. There has been study after study done on the positive impact of loving relationships. What he had said at the time in that book was that if we had a drug that did for our health what love does, it would be far outsell anything that has ever been made. The efficacy is that potent. But we downplay the importance of love and connection in a culture based on the success of “the rugged individual.” And I think it’s a good analogy that healthy connection decreases our overall pain.

Q: So if you have individuals or communities or societies that have lived with trauma, isolation, rejection, is healing possible?

Dr. Banks: This is the other piece of the neuroscience that is profound and hopeful, and that is neuroplasticity: the capacity of our brains and autonomic nervous systems to change. Until Dr. FIRST Erikson discovered in 1998 that the brain could make new cells, the neurological model stated humans were born with a certain amount of brain cells that decreased with age and through circumstances such as head injuries or taking drugs. Now we know our brains are making new cells and are re-working brain connections all the time. The key for creating lasting change is motivation and interest in making different choices which will stimulate new areas of the brain and re-wire us.

Q: Why is this information medically important not only for clinicians for but parents, teachers, caregivers out in the world? That is of great importance to you, can you tell us a little bit why?

Dr. Banks: The history of science is historically to be 10-20 years ahead of where the culture is, and given what we have facing us today with the economy and many global crises, I think we have to get back to the real basics of having relationships be at the center of our meaning. This has been our passion at the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute for years, but it feels really urgent right now. My experience both as a clinician and as a mother is that people are hungry for this information. Our greatest gift is to connect, and we function better in connection as individuals and as a society. If we can teach our children how to connect, and we can teach our mothers and fathers and caregivers to raise connected children, we can foster the positive change that is emerging throughout the world.

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The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights announced on Thursday that it would be investigating Yale University in response to a Title IX complaint by students and alumni. The complaint, which was filed by 12 women and four men who are current students and alumni of the university, cites recent public and private events where Yale's sexual assault and harassment policies have led to the creation of a hostile sexual environment. This environment limits "women's equal access to educational opportunities," the complaint argues. The 16 signatories have been discussing the possibility of filing a complaint since December of 2010, but Yale's lack of response to an incident in which men from the DKE fraternity chanted: "No means yes! Yes means anal!" outside of freshman dorms set the wheels in motion.

The complaint cites five other events, including the "preseason scouting report": A widely distributed email that rated women based on attractiveness sent out in 2009. In 2008, members of the Zeta Psi fraternity posted photos on Facebook of themselves holding a banner that said "We love Yale sluts" in front of the Yale Women's Center. In 2007, over 150 students at the medical school signed a letter to the administration, requesting that it investigate the school's sexual assault and harassment policy. The Title IX complaint is also in reference to students' private interactions with Yale after issues of sexual harassment, assault, stalking, or crimes in which a sexual assault also occurred. - Excerpt, Miranda Lewis, Yale student and XX Factor intern

Read entire blog post

Dr. Nathan Dewall from the University of Kentucky discusses his study and Psychological Science journal article, "Tylenol reduces social pain: behavioral and neural evidence.

The Out of the Darkness Overnight is a walk like no other. It's an 18-mile journey through the night, from dusk until dawn where a courageous community of men and women like you will break the silence and bring the issues of depression and suicide into the light. We will walk together to turn heartbreak into hope for tomorrow. - from the American Society for Suicide Prevention

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A legal shift in looking at the men who pay for sex is a new focus for anti-sex trafficking activists. The strategy has led to changes in state legislation and educational programs at a growing number of "john schools."

Today, approximately 40 john schools serving 50 communities exist nationwide. Though "john school" is the generic term for educational programs for men who engage in transactional sex, each course has its own formal title, such as Chicago's Ammend Program.

By educating men on the consequences of soliciting sex--both for themselves and for sex workers--advocates say these programs raise awareness on the ramifications of sex trafficking and reduce recidivism. The reason behind educating men who pay for sex, says Hatcher, is simple: if there were no customers, there'd be no prostitution.  -  Women's eNews article excerpt

Read the full article

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In September 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry to inspire hope for young people facing harassment. In response to a number of students taking their own lives after being bullied in school, they wanted to create a personal way for supporters everywhere to tell LGBT youth that, yes, it does indeed get better.

Two months later, the It Gets Better Project (TM) has turned into a worldwide movement, inspiring over 10,000 user-created videos viewed over 35 million times. To date, the project has received submissions from celebrities, organizations, activists, politicians and media personalities, including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Adam Lambert, Anne Hathaway, Colin Farrell, Matthew Morrison of "Glee", Joe Jonas, Joel Madden, Ke$ha, Sarah Silverman, Tim Gunn, Ellen DeGeneres, Suze Orman, the staffs of The Gap, Google, Facebook, Pixar, the Broadway community, and many more. For us, every video changes a life. It doesn’t matter who makes it. - From www.itgetsbetter.org

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Galia Slayen recently blogged on The Huffington Post's HuffPost College site about the life-size Barbie she built in 2007. "I was frustrated after quitting the cheerleading squad, frustrated with pressures to look and act a certain way and most of all frustrated with the eating disorder controlling my life. I wanted to do something that would turn others' apathy into action."

Some people have skeletons in their closet. I have an enormous Barbie in mine.

She stands about six feet tall with a 39" bust, 18" waist, and 33" hips. These are the supposed measurements of Barbie if she were a real person. I built her as a part of the first National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAW) at my high school, later introducing her to Hamilton College during its first NEDAW in 2011.

When I was a little girl, I played with my Barbie in her playhouse, sending her and Ken on dates that always ended with a goodnight kiss. I had fond times with my Barbie, and I admired her perfect blonde locks and slim figure. Barbie represented beauty, perfection and the ideal for young girls around the world. At least, as a seven-year-old, that is what she was to me. - Blog excerpt

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JBMI Director of Advanced Study Amy Banks, M.D. was recently interviewed by Joan Brunwasser for OpEdNews.com. The article, "Dr. Amy Banks on How to Keep Those Grey Cells Fit as We Age," focuses on in importance of brain health.

Not only does exercise keep your body fit, but it contributes to keeping your brain flexible and adaptable. One of the issues, particularly with advanced aging, is a sense of isolation as friends and family may be dying.I think people need to be able to maintain community and connections, opportunities to interact.The physiology of healthy relationship contributes to building a brain that is continuing to grow. - Article excerpt

Read the interview

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A recent editorial in the New York Times makes the case for the Supreme Court to listen to the women of Wal-Mart. Ms. Betty Dukes (pictured right) is the lead plaintiff in the sex discrimination class-action lawsuit Dukes vs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The employment discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart, which the Supreme Court heard last week, is the largest in American history. If the court rejects this suit, it will send a chilling message that some companies are too big to be held accountable.

It began in 1999 after Stephanie Odle was fired when she complained of sex discrimination. As Ms. Odle recounted in sworn testimony, as an assistant manager she discovered that a male employee with the same title and less experience was making $10,000 a year more than her.

She complained to her boss, who defended the disparity by saying the male had a family to support. When she replied that she was having a baby that she needed to support, the supervisor made her provide a personal budget and then gave her a raise closing just one-fifth the gap. - Editorial excerpt       (Photo credit: AP Images)

Read the full editorial

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The Jean Baker Miller Institute sent out a flyer this week asking RCT practitioners in our current database to update their email addresses. We are in the midst of upgrading our database, and want to make sure we have the most accurate contact information for RCT community members. The flyer is also full of upcoming program information, new publications, and RCT resources, so make sure to check it out and spread the word to colleagues and friends.

Thank you for your consideration and participation.

JBMI Associate Director of Advanced Training, Amy Banks, M.D., has spoken and published extensively on the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in relationship, particularly interpersonal violence. She authored Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Relationships and Brain Chemistry with Cambridge Health Alliance's Victims of Violence, a program co-founded by Mary Harvey, Ph.D. and trauma pioneer Judith Herman, Ph.D.

An instructor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Banks also co-edited The Complete Guide to Mental Health for Women, which includes her chapter, "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder." She also published "The Developmental Impact of Trauma," in Diversity and Development edited by Dr. Dana Comstock (Belmont, CA: Brooks Cole), and "A Relational Therapy for Trauma," in the Journal of Traumatic Practice.

Dr. Banks will be presenting a webinar Love and PTSD: Understanding the Devastating Impact of Interpersonal Violence on Friday, April 29, 2011 from 11am-12:30pm EST. Using an interactive format, she will explore brain changes seen in people diagnosed with PTSD. Participants will also discuss the "five bad things" of an abusive relationship and the process of amplification seen in PTSD. Pre-registration at www.jbmti.org is required.  Learn more.

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Ethics and Power: Navigating Mutuality in Therapeutic Relationships, by Pam Birrell, Ph.D. is now available through the Wellesley Centers for Women Publications Office.

This paper explores Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) and the ethics of power-with, of mutuality and relational engagement. It examines how we and those with whom we work become whole and how we help others. Ethics is not a set of rules to follow, but is an attitude and a stance toward the suffering of others and toward helping them to heal. Mutual respect and mutual power, relational engagement, and the importance of uncertainty, being open to the people with whom we work are described as core ethical concerns. This paper initiates a conversation on relational-cultural ethics which can create possibilities and growth fostering relationships for all. - Abstract

Pam Birrell, Ph.D., is a Senior Instructor in the psychology department at the University of Oregon, and a psychologist in private practice. She completed the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute Practitioner Program in 2006.

REGISTER ONLINE TODAY for The Power of Connection: Tools for Personal and Social Change, JBMTI's  Intensive Institute from June 23-26, 2011 at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA.

In response to feedback from our recent constituent survey, we've overhauled our Intensive Institute to focus more on practical applications of RCT and skills you need to be a better practitioner. We expanded workshops, community-building activities, research instruction, and theory-into-action exercises to empower and support participants as relational leaders in their work, families, and communities. We have also brought back on-campus housing accommodations during the Institute.

Highlights: Plenaries: Why RCT Matters in the Real World, "Be the Change" Conversations, and Action Growing from CommunityWorkshops: Creating Connection in a Sea of Disconnection: Research-Informed Clinical Practice, Getting Unstuck: The Tools of Empathy, Reclaiming the Connected Brain: A 10 Step Program to Awaken Your Natural Ability to Connect, and "Talking" the Talk through Media CommentaryCommunity: Group activities and poster sessions.

See you in June!

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RCT practitioner Judith Lockhart-Radtke recently published, Weaving Yarn, Weaving Cultures, Weaving Lives: A Circle of Women in Oaxaca, Mexico, in which she acknowledges Jean Baker Miller's influence on the book and her work:

This theory depended on the work of Paulo Freire and Jean Baker Miller...Jean Baker Miller has written extensively that women grown best in relationships of mutuality. This was the first experiment with Miller's work in the developing world in a cross-cultural project, and both Miller and the Institute she founded at Wellesley College were interested and supportive participants.

The Circle of Women began in 2002 when Judith Lockhart-Radtke and Pia Scognamiglio, a Swiss-Mexican midwife, joined to support the women of Oaxaca in building healthy and viable communities. Their vision is to "strive to realize social justice for women by supporting self-reliance, raising consciousness of individual talents and skills and enhancing cross-cultural relations."

New York Times columnist David Brooks has recently released a new book, The Social Animal. Cited neuroscience, scientists, and the importance of relationship, in his recent column, "The New Humanism," Brooks sums up so much of the work and paradigm shifts Jean Baker Miller called for in Toward a New Psychology of Women thirty-five years ago and JBMTI has been proposing for decades. JBMTI highly recommends Brooks's new book, as well as the inclusion of the worldview he is proposing in the larger culture.

Cannot recommend reading the entire column enough (link provided below). In the meantime, following is a short excerpt of the entire article.

Over the course of my career, I’ve covered a number of policy failures. When the Soviet Union fell, we sent in teams of economists, oblivious to the lack of social trust that marred that society. While invading Iraq, the nation’s leaders were unprepared for the cultural complexities of the place and the psychological aftershocks of Saddam’s terror.

We had a financial regime based on the notion that bankers are rational creatures who wouldn’t do anything stupid en masse. For the past 30 years we’ve tried many different ways to restructure our educational system — trying big schools and little schools, charters and vouchers — that, for years, skirted the core issue: the relationship between a teacher and a student.

I’ve come to believe that these failures spring from a single failure: reliance on an overly simplistic view of human nature. We have a prevailing view in our society — not only in the policy world, but in many spheres — that we are divided creatures. Reason, which is trustworthy, is separate from the emotions, which are suspect. Society progresses to the extent that reason can suppress the passions.

This has created a distortion in our culture. We emphasize things that are rational and conscious and are inarticulate about the processes down below. We are really good at talking about material things but bad at talking about emotion.

When we raise our kids, we focus on the traits measured by grades and SAT scores. But when it comes to the most important things like character and how to build relationships, we often have nothing to say. Many of our public policies are proposed by experts who are comfortable only with correlations that can be measured, appropriated and quantified, and ignore everything else. - Column excerpt

Read the entire column

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Dateline recently ran an in-depth 10-segment series on bullying including both boys and girls. While the show missed the opportunity to discuss some key power dynamics such as the role of race and why there are even bullies in the first place, the series is impressive in that it delves deeper into the power dynamics of bullying beyond telling kids to just "be nice."

Watch the complete series

 

 

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Dr. Amy Banks, JBMTI's director of advanced training, has long been touting the central role of oxytocin, often called "the love drug," in connection and relational neurobiology. Two recent reports delve into the complexities of the drugs affects on human behavior.

Boston's WCVB-TV featured the story, 'Cuddle Drug' May Help Couples Bond, highlighting a new treatment of doctors giving patients "small tables that contain oxytocin" to increase feelings of intimacy. The report quotes Dr. Matt French of Wellness Solutions in Phoenix, "If a couple is struggling with bonding issues, with intimacy issues, it could be as a result of inadequate levels of the hormone oxytocin."

On the flip side, a January 11, 2011 piece in The New York Times, Depth of the Kindness Hormone Appears to Know Some Bounds, clarifies that oxytocin is not a universal answer to better connection among all people or to world peace. According to the article, Dr. Carsten K. W. De Dreu, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam, decided to take a closer look at oxytocin after, "he decided on evolutionary principles that no one who placed unbounded trust in others could survive." His experiment found oxytocin to produce ethnocentric behavior, and to create "intergroup bias primarily because it motivates in-group favoritism and because it motivates out-group derogation." 

What does it mean that a chemical basis for ethnocentrism is embedded in the human brain? “In the ancestral environment it was very important for people to detect in others whether they had a long-term commitment to the group,” Dr. De Dreu said. “Ethnocentrism is a very basic part of humans, and it’s not something we can change by education. That doesn’t mean that the negative aspects of it should be taken for granted.”

Bruno B. Averbeck, an expert on the brain’s emotional processes at the National Institute of Mental Health, said that the effects of oxytocin described in Dr. De Dreu’s report were interesting but not necessarily dominant. The brain weighs emotional attitudes like those prompted by oxytocin against information available to the conscious mind. If there is no cognitive information in a situation in which a decision has to be made, like whether to trust a stranger about whom nothing is known, the brain will go with the emotional advice from its oxytocin system, but otherwise rational data will be weighed against the influence from oxytocin and may well override it, Dr. Averbeck said.

Dr. Averbeck said he was amazed that a substance like oxytocin can affect such a high-level human behavior. “It’s really surprising to me that this neurotransmitter can so specifically affect these social behaviors,” he said. - NY Times article excerpt

Both reports confirm the importance of relational neuroscience research in understanding the role of the brain and its neurotransmitters in affecting human and social behavior.

 

 

 

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The complete schedule for the upcoming Intensive Institute, The Power of Connection: Tools for Personal and Social Change, is now available.

Program Highlights: Plenaries: Why RCT Matters in the Real World, "Be the Change" Conversations, and Action Growing from CommunityWorkshops: Creating Connection in a Sea of Disconnection: Research-Informed Clinical Practice, Getting Unstuck: The Tools of Empathy, Reclaiming the Connected Brain: A 10 Step Program to Awaken Your Natural Ability to Connect, and "Talking" the Talk through Media CommentaryCommunity: Group activities and poster sessions.

Online registration will open soon. Please contact us at jbmti@wellesley.edu with any questions. We look forward to seeing you in June!

15 CEUs awarded (APA approved - NASW, LMHC, LMFT approval pending)

by Harriet Schwartz, Ph.D.

I submitted a post late in 2010 to tell members of the JBMTI community about Antioch University's Ph.D. in Leadership and Change program, a program that holds relational leadership at its core. As promised, I's writing a second post to tell you about some of the related research that is in the works or has been completed at Antioch.

Martha Miser is a current student who is developing her dissertation topic. Martha writes: "In a sentence, my dissertation topic looks at globalization, growth, and social change from a feminist lens. In particular, I am critiquing the idea of endless accumulation that is the foundation of economic growth, capitalism, globalization, etc. I'm using a number of feminist scholars in this work, including Joyce Fletcher. I can't say yet exactly if/when/how relational theory will be a major element in my dissertation argument, but in any case, I'm also interested as a practitioner in leadership development and organizational change (I'm a coach, educator, consultant)."

Deborah A. Fredricks graduated in 2009. Fredricks drew directly on RCT, citing several Stone Center publications. Deborah's dissertation title is "The Leader's Experience of Relational Leadership: A Hermenuetic Phenomenological Study of Leadership at Friendship." 

And finally, I completed my dissertation "Thankful Learning: A Grounded Theory Study of Relational Practice Between Master's Students and Professors" in May, 2009.  RCT continues to be at the core of my research endeavors and I'm currently conducting a second study looking at relational practice between master's students and professors: this time I am using a different methodology (critical incident technique) and am interviewing current students to try to capture the smaller moments of connection.

I share these research examples with you because I believe that Antioch is unique in the way that the program design and faculty honor and draw from RCT and relational practice more broadly defined. For more information on Antioch's Ph.D. program visit: http://www.phd.antioch.edu/ In addition,  I would be delighted to talk with you or anyone you know who is interested in the program, harrietschwartz14@gmail.com.

Dr. Dolores Finger Wright, an associate professor of social work at Delaware State University (DSU), was recently honored for "the role she played in the historic public accommodations demonstrations in Greensboro, N.C. during the early 1960s," as announced in a recent statement from DSU. 

On February 5, 2011 Dr. Finger Wright received the International Civil Rights Center & Museum Sit-In Hero’s Award during a gala commemorating the 51st anniversary of the Greensboro Sit-ins.

During the tumultuous 1960s in Greensboro, the DSU associate professor was an undergraduate student in Bennett College for Women. Her extracurricular activity from her bachelor’s degree pursuit was working behind the scene during the Greensboro demonstrations and taking part in the picket lines.
 
Presenting the award to Dr. Finger Wright was Ret. Maj. Gen. Joseph McNeil, one of the “Greensboro Four” that gained worldwide notoriety for their sit-ins protests at segregated lunch counters in Greensboro in 1960.
 
“Delores would picket during the days to integrate the stores,” said Ret. Maj. Gen. McNeil. “She would work the picket lines at night to integrate the movie theatres, which was dangerous in Greensboro.”
 
Dr. Finger Wright said that she also worked behind the scenes strategizing with her Bennett College sisters, professors, as well as through her affiliations with the NAACP and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). - Article excerpt

Read the full article

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JBMTI Director of Program Development Maureen Walker, Ph.D.,  recently published her article, "What's a Feminist Therapist to Do? Engaging the Relational Paradox in a Post-Feminist World," in the latest issue of Women & Therapy (34: 38-58, 2011).

The advances that women have made in public and private venues are often attributed to the successive feminist movements. One of the ironies of the 21st century, however, is that women's accomplishments are sometimes cited as proof that feminist consciousness is passe. This stance generates profound confusion and disempowerment for young women whose experience of embedded misogyny is contradicted by distortions of post-feminist discourse, one outcome of which is disconnection from socio-political context. This article illustrates the use Relational-Cultural therapy as a feminist approach that fosters healing and growth by facilitating both personal and collective empowerment. - Article abstract

Learn more

JBMTI is thrilled to announce a new program initiative, the Miller Family Social Action Project. The Project's mission is to address social problems resulting from inequitable power arrangements in contemporary culture. Using the precepts of the Relational-Cultural Theory as our guiding philosophy, the Project members will work in collaboration with diverse groups and individuals to develop programs that promote reconciliation, shared power, and mutual respect across in a context of culturally stratified relationships.

Following is an excerpt from an article Jean's husband, Mike Miller, wrote for the recent Winter 2011 eConnections about the intention of the project:

Social action was a defining aspect of Jean’s life.  Whether she was working with fellow Sarah Lawrence students in low-income  areas of Yonkers, pursuing national health insurance while in medical school, or supporting feminist mobilizations and anti-nuclear efforts, theory and action were always intertwined for her, each clarifying the other.  Her emphasis on “growth-through-connection” was not only about achieving psychological health and well-being, it was a call to action, urging us to work for social justice in all of our relationships.

The Miller Family Social Action Project is an effort to further Jean’s vision for social change through the work of the JBMTI.  Over the years, the Institute has contributed to both increasing awareness of the need for connection and improving organizational communication and effectiveness.  It is our hope that the Project will move Jean’s relational activism to a new level by mobilizing and inspiring even more practitioners to apply their knowledge and skills to social action that lead to positive and enduring social change.

Visit the Miller Family Social Action Project page on the JBMTI website for updated programming and initiative information

WBUR, one of Boston's NPR stations, recently ran an incredible five-part series on children and mental health in Massachusetts, "Are the Kids All Right?" Issues such as struggling to find a diagnosis; effects of medication; health care coverage; stigmas of mental health; and the shortage of pediatric mental health care providers are all explored in this important, in-depth series.

It's been five years since a federal judge issued a scathing ruling accusing Massachusetts of not providing adequate mental health services to children on public health insurance. The landmark case, Rosie D. v. Romney, has had broad implications on the diagnosis and treatment of all Massachusetts children who need mental health care. Although there have been many reforms in the five years since the suit, several challenges remain. We check in on how care has changed since Rosie D. - Excerpt from WBUR's report

Part 1: One Family’s ‘Traumatic’ Struggle For Mental Health Care

Part 2: Parents Divided By The Medication Debate

Part 3: Mental Health Screening Exposes Access Problems

Part 4: Provider Shortage Leaves Parents Searching, Doctors Overwhelmed

Part 5: Stakes High For Improving Mass. Children’s Mental Health System

Listen to the full series