Relational-Cultural theorists suggest that healthy psychological development occurs in the context of growth-enhancing relationships. While traditional developmental models emphasize individuation of the self over the lifespan, Relational Cultural Theory suggests that our development takes place within a sociocultural context; throughout life we move through connection and disconnection with others. Therapists incorporating this model seek to foster an attitude of curiosity rather than mastery.
“Relational Cultural Theory emphasizes health, growth, and courage, and points to a new understanding of human and individual strength: strength in relationship, not strength in isolation. Isolation is seen as the source of most suffering, while the process of creating mutual empathy and mutual empowerment is seen as the route out of isolation” (Jordan and Hartling, 2002, p. 51).
Jordan, J.V. and Hartling, L. M. (2002). New developments in relational-cultural theory. In M. Ballou & L.S. Brown (Eds.), Rethinking mental health and disorders: Feminist perspectives (pp. 48-70). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Walker, M. (2004). How connections heal: Stories from Relational-cultural Therapy. New York, NY: Guilford Press.