Relational-Cultural Theory

The Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI) at the Wellesley Centers for Women is the home of Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) which posits that people grow through and toward relationships throughout the lifespan, and that culture powerfully impacts relationship. JBMTI is dedicated to understanding the complexities of human connections as well as exploring the personal and social factors that can lead to chronic disconnection.

We promote social change by expanding definitions and societal norms of personal strength, human health, and cultural wellbeing. Our work, which focuses on relational development, has been applied in clinical settings, educational institutions, organizations, and businesses around the world, and has been recognized by a co-editor at the American Psychological Association as "one of the top ten psychological theories today."

RCT has grown from the early work of Jean Baker Miller, M.D. who wrote the best selling book Toward a New Psychology of Women in 1976. In this book, Jean explored the importance of dynamics of dominance and subordination in human relationships and began to reframe the psychology of women as a psychology centered in relationships. This work has been further developed since 1978 by a collaborative group including founding scholars Jean Baker Miller, M.D., Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D., Irene Stiver, Ph.D. and Janet Surrey, Ph.D.. An expanded group of scholars, researchers and clinicians have written many publications, including over ten books and more than one hundred Work in Progress papers on specific areas of RCT. The work has been cited in over 6,000 books, journals articles, and dissertations.

To learn about RCT directly from our Faculty, JBMTI offers a wide array of opportunities to interact with not only the thought leaders of RCT as well as participants utilizing RCT in their work around the globe. Most programs offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for clinicians and social workers:

  • Our 3-day Introductory Institute held each October on the Wellesley College campus is the perfect opportunity for those new to RCT to learn the history and foundational concepts in an interactive setting
  • Our 4-day Intensive Institute in June, also held at Wellesley College, delves deeply into applications of RCT and provides skills training for practitioners in areas such as research, clinical settings, neuroscience, and social media
  • Online webinars offer interactive training and dialogue throughout the academic year on specific subjects within larger fields. Previous webinar series have included The Neurobiology of Connection and The Healing Brain
  • Lectures such as the annual Jean Baker Miller Memorial Lecture and the Lunchtime Seminar Series at the Wellesley Centers for Women feature JBMTI Faculty and invited scholars discussing topics such as media, girls' empowerment, and a history of RCT
  • Home Study Courses provide the opportunity for practitioners to read books edited and authored by JBMTI Faculty for Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

Read more about the development of Relational-Cultural Theory.