An Interview With Couples Therapist Duane Harvey

 

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Duane Harvey is a licensed marriage and family therapist who is certified in Imago and works in Santa Monica, CA; here is a link to his Psychology Today page:

http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/name/Duane_M_Harvey_MA,MFT_Santa+Monica_California_48433

 

Q: What exactly is Imago?

 

A: Imago is Latin for image. In neo-platonic philosophy it referred to imago dei, the image of God we carry within us. In Imago Therapy it refers to the image of the type of partner we are looking for, based on our early experiences with caretakers. Our imago contains both positive and negative traits and we are secretly seeking both, while only conscious of the desiring the positive traits. The negative traits are necessary for the re-activation of those early wounding experiences. It has been shown neurologically that deep emotional memory can be reconsolidated and altered by re-activation followed by corrective experiences with the type of person who originally wounded us.

 

Q: What does getting certified in Imago entail?

 

A: Basic certification requires a license to practice psychotherapy, attending a Getting The Love You Want workshop, then a year of coursework and supervision with a clinical instructor, which includes video presentation of work with couples. The certifying board is called Imago Relationship International.

 

Q: What sort if things do you discuss in your Tantric Couples Conversation group?

 

A: We discuss how to talk about things. We learn to mirror each others words, to slow down. We gaze silently into the eyes of our partner for three minutes while synchronizing our breath. Love is an addiction. Addictions require surges of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Eye gazing can supply us with an endless supply of this drug. Eye gazing is how we fell in love. We discuss what it felt like to fall in love and re-experience the feelings as we talk about it. We discuss what it is like to breath together.

We discuss touching.

We discuss the sexually charged energetic map of the body and explore different ways of touching each center.

We discuss the ways we appreciate we our partner.

We discuss high eroticism as form of healing.

Some of the discussions are private, between partners, but some are shared.

 

Q: What are the benefits of doing this kind of therapy in a group?

 

A: Couples discover very quickly that the problems they thought were uniquely theirs are shared by most couples, and that resolving these problems are a lot easier than they thought. Couples don’t even have to share or actively participate in a group to benefit. The romantic dyad is probably the most isolated of all our social units. Breaking down the fourth wall dissolves shame and provides new solutions fast.

 

 

 

Q: What is your professional opinion of sexual surrogates?

 

A: There is no such thing as a surrogate. It is always the real thing. Sexual surrogates will tell you they are really relationship surrogates. On the other hand, every relationship is a surrogate for an original relationship. Practically speaking, I have found surrogates to be of great value for clients who have difficulty finding relational experience through common social channels.

 

Q: What are some of the most common problems you see in couple’s therapy?

 

A: All couples experience ruptures of connection. The most common problem I see is the couples inability to repair due to the emotional style in which they react to the rupture. For instance, Susan feels ignored by John at a party, but instead of describing her vulnerability she criticizes him for paying attention to others. This causes him to feel inadequate, so he withdraws, which makes her feel even more deeply abandoned and angry. The story is not important. What is important is the rigid pattern they have been locked into and the stereotypical way it escalates. Their higher functioning thought processes have been highjacked by the lightning fast primitive brain we share with all mammals. They are unable to exercise conscious free will, but think they are.

 

Q: What theories in psychology do you think are passé?

 

A: The most obsolete theory in psychology is unfortunately the most prevalent and pervasive. Simply put, it is the notion of individual self-reliance and independence, most succinctly expressed in the slogan that one must love oneself before can love someone else and the corollary that one must do their individual work before they can be a successful couple. Not only is this idea wholly inaccurate, it is destructive and goes largely unchallenged as a collective assumption. Connection has be pathologized into codependence.

 

Q: How does one go about picking out a good therapist?

 

A: Most people assume that every therapist is competent working with couples or at the very least is relationship oriented. This is far from the truth. Our graduate training programs, even the so-called integrated and spiritual ones, are heavily biased toward the ninetieth century notion of individualism. Working with couples is not for the faint of heart and most therapists are not comfortable with it, and will recommend individual therapy. It is a well established statistic that individual therapy is very good at helping people break up, not come together. If you are in a relationship, or want to be in a relationship, make sure the therapist you select specializes in relationship.

 

Q: Are there any relationship problems that you see wealthy couples have that other people do not?

 

A: We all have the same basic attachment needs and problems. But wealthy couples have greater access to complexity, with more outsiders circling the perimeter. They also tend to have more exits, which leaks energy out of the couple bubble. Bonding requires a deep interdependency that can be inhibited by the illusion of independence that wealth can sometimes promote.

 

Q: How do you feel about reality shows such as Couples Therapy and Celebrity Rehab?

 

A: The show Couples Therapy makes me sad.

 

An effective couples therapist is not distracted by the stories couples tell, but focuses on the process and patterns between.

An effective couples therapist carefully regulates negativity, unravels criticism to expose the emotional need it is trying to express.

An effective couples therapist does not challenge one partner without also challenging the other, and keeps the conversation corralled between the partners, deflecting attempts to draw the therapist in as a referee.

An effective couples therapist makes use of every moment of interaction to uncover and steer attachment needs toward target responses.

 

It is sad to think that anyone might mistake Jenn Berman’s brand of bedlam for real couples therapy.

 

I have never seen Celebrity Rehab.

 

 

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

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