Self-in-Relation Theory: A Model for Helping



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University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work


Self-in-relation theory was first proposed by women researchers at Wellesley College’s Stone Center in 1991 (Jordan, Kaplan, Miller, Stiver, & Surrey, 1991). Self-in-relation theory evolved as a collaborative effort based on research regarding women’s psychological development (Jordan, et al., 1991). Previous researchers had begun to define women’s dysfunctional reactions to societal pressures such as expectations that one “be a good wife” and fulfill expected gender roles according to gender specific norms (Jack, 1987; Stiver & Miller, Copyright University of Houston, 2006 29 1988; Strauss, 1988). These researchers posited that women experience conflict based on the friction between norms and expected gender role functioning vs. their personal needs. This friction, as posited by the researchers, led to depression and other dysfunctional responses (Stiver & Miller, 1988).



Melinda W. Pilkinton, Self-in-Relation Theory, Perspectives on Social Work, Social work, Self-in-relation theory, Perspectives on Social Work