Our current political climate has been the catalyst for thought – and for clarification of the position I take as the founder of and impetus behind Illuminated Education. For most of my career as a psychologist I have described my theoretical rooting as eclectic, drawing from numerous theoretical constructs when considering each case or situation. I find now, that, although I still value and use all of the theoretical views that have informed my work in the past, the ideas at the center are similar to those articulated by the Stone Center at Wellesley College and the work and writing of Jean Baker Miller, Judith Jordan and others who were and are associated with what has come to be called Relational-Cultural Therapy (RCT). 1 This is a theoretical stance which, along with other elements, embraces feminism and social justice.
Core concepts of this work include the notions that “people grow through and toward relationship throughout the life span.” and that “mutual empathy and mutual empowerment are at the core of growth-fostering relationships.” (p. 24)
In addition, there is recognition that a person’s psychological state depends not only on intrapsychic factors, but on the environment in which the person is submerged. Dr. Jordan states that awareness of the impact of sociopolitical, racial, cultural, sexual , and economic context has always been a part of RCT, and that “… recently the delineation of the impact of race, class, sexual orientation, and all types of marginalization on individuals and groups of individuals – both men and women – has been at the center of this work.” (p. 12)
That being the case, it follows that
RCT … serves as a conceptual framework for undertaking social action. RCT practitioners in clinical settings frame their work around healing the suffering of the individuals they see in treatment. But they also recognize a larger mission of changing the social conditions that create much of the suffering that people endure. (p. 33).
Our goals, then, in the therapy room, in the class room, and in the world at large, include
∙ Developing strong and mutual relationships
∙ Empathic attunement to others
∙ Fostering growth and empowerment through relationships, and
∙ Pursuing activities supporting social justice and the growth and empowerment of all people
These are goals of Illuminated Education and its continuing education activities. To these I add:
∙ Reviewing and critiquing current science and technology with the goal of discovering (1) the truth and usefulness of the work and (2) the impact the work may have on society and the individuals making up our society.
Goals which have not changed include the ongoing mission of providing live courses by interesting, experienced speakers whose work and presentations combine knowledge of current research as well as deep clinical experience, and online materials presented or authored in a clear and engaging way. Content will expand based on the ideas presented above, and will also continue to have as major priorities work on the connection between mind and body, and the use of mindfulness, meditation, and other practices which come to us from Eastern and shamanic roots.
1 Jordan, Judith V. (2010) Relational-Cultural Therapy, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. All quotations that follow are from this volume.