“The need for connection and community and the desire to be a part of meaningful and responsive relationships is at the heart of human experience.”

—Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D.

In contemporary Western society, the individual is the key unit of analysis — each human being actively constructs a life through self-determination, self-motivation, and self-efficacy. While these values are deeply necessary for thriving, research has proven that they don’t actively cultivate one of the most fundamental requisites for human happiness – healthy connection. In our hyper-individualist culture, far too many people live in isolation and quiet desperation. The predominant values of transaction, consumption, curation, and celebrity leave people feeling profoundly disconnected from one another—in the family, the workplace, and the community. This disconnection has proven alarmingly dangerous to our social fabric. Not only does it allow people to demonize one another, but it also prevents us from truly being seen, known, understood, and appreciated by one another.

Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) celebrates the centrality of interdependence. Flying in the face of the so-called self-made person, RCT posits that we grow not through separation, but rather in and toward connection. We need connection just as we need air and water. Our bodies are exquisitely designed to manage stress by turning to trusted others when we are anxious or scared, but the chronic stimulation of fear without the availability of comfort and love moves us into helplessness and hopelessness. In contrast, when certain parts of the brain are activated, we feel a sense of calm even in the worst of times; the reduction in stress that comes from a healthy relationship and a sense of belonging is more powerful than that which can be stimulated by simply deep breathing or individual meditation. Thus, it becomes clear that growth-fostering relationships provide the resilience that enables us to persevere even in the most difficult times.


Relational-Cultural Theory spans a variety of disciplines — among them, psychology and social work; neuroscience and medicine; social and economic justice; and education.

In each of these areas, we are inviting people who are committed to join a group of kindred spirits to shape a learning and action agenda that draws on Relational-Cultural Theory in the respective disciplines. Our intention is to provide the basic structure for such an agenda so that the work can emerge organically, based on the needs and desires of those who participate. The three groups that have launched to date are described below. Please join us!


The Education as a Relational Practice Group (EARP) is a community of educators from a range of domains who collaborate and support each other in a continuing exploration of RCT as a guiding force in education. 


The Ecology Affinity Group supports the vision of a world where each of us, and the collective WE, live in relationship with our natural world through interactions grounded in respect, balance, mutuality, and genuine community, ever reminding us that “we are nature”.


Relational Cultural Theory Psychotherapy Affinity Group is a community of mental wellness professionals who study and practice the healing power of connection and the creation of growth-fostering relationships in the clinical application of Relational Cultural Theory.


CARE stands for the four basic elements of relational health: calm, accepted, resonant, energetic.

By exploring the quality of the relationships you spend the most emotional and physical time in, you will get a clearer sense of the collective impact your relationships have on your nervous system. Additionally, identifying the degree of safety in your relationships allows you to take relational risks that are more likely to be supported and to improve both the quality of the relationship and the functioning of your brain.

Ultimately, the information from the assessment is used to help you build a CARE strategy and select CARE exercises that both improve your health and strengthen the quality of your relationships. For those who want it, additional resources are available after taking the assessment.

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