The Women’s Therapy Center bases its work on a relational model, grounded upon the notion that a person’s sense of self develops within the psychological context of interpersonal relationships. These relationships take place within each person’s socio-cultural environment. At the Women’s Therapy Center, we are interested in the intrapsychic as well as the interpersonal, and the personal as well as the socio-political and cultural. Our relational model maintains that psychological health is contingent upon both the capacity to develop and maintain meaningful connections throughout life and the capacity to reflect upon one’s own subjective experience.
Although the faculty at WTC identify with the basic precepts of a relational model, this does not mean that everyone thinks or practices exactly alike. Individual faculty members draw from a number of schools of thought, including attachment theory, interpersonal theory, humanistic theory, family systems theory, feminist theory, object relations theory, self psychology, infant research, self-in-relation theory (Stone Center), psychoanalytic theory, queer theory, and cultural theory. Given the diverse roots of relational theory, there are also differences in emphasis and technique among relational clinicians.
Faculty at the Women’s Therapy Center, however, all view the client-therapist dyad as the central place that change occurs. They view the client-therapist partnership as complex, based on each participant’s subjective experience of herself and the other. Both client and therapist are co-creators of a process that can lead to increased well-being and to making meaning of the client’s life. Therapists-in-training are encouraged to use their subjective experience to maintain a stance of empathy, mutuality, and flexibility within the therapeutic dyad.
At the Center, we are interested in the familial, interpersonal, social, and cultural contexts in which early development and later life experience occur. We recognize that trauma and styles of attachment influence the neurochemistry of the body and the brain, and that neurochemistry affects the way that interactions are processed and understood. We also know the importance of exploring issues of stigma and marginalization. As relational clinicians, we recognize the impact of issues such as economic class, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, expression of gender, age, and body size upon a person’s sense of self and relationships with others.