Melvin and Sherrie Allen, Doctors of Philosophy (Depth Psychology 2016)
Who are Drs. Melvin and Sherrie Allen?
Drs. Melvin and Sherrie Allen are a unique couple who live and work in Beverly Hills, California. They have been going to school together for fourteen of their seventeen-year marriage. Starting their advanced degree journey in 2002, they obtained their first Masters degrees in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica and continued until completing their PhDs in Depth Psychology in 2016 at Pacifica.
Drs. Melvin and Sherrie have been relationship coaches for over 12 years. The couple have created, taught, and facilitated relationship training programs for singles and couples in Canada, Mexico, Germany, and across America. Their goal is to assist people in discovering their unconscious relationship blind spots. They are the co-founders of the Living Audaciously Women’s Group, and Dr. Melvin is the founder of the Living Audaciously Men’s Group. These groups were established to support men and women in achieving their life goals with clarity and direction.
Drs. Melvin and Sherrie offer an alternative to couples’ therapy, coining their title as Relationship Alchemists. This title reflects their commitment to the work of taking two unique spirits and blending them into one loving couple. They challenge committed couples to take responsibility for the quality of their relationships. They are committed to providing couples effective tools for creating, maintaining, and improving their relationships, while being a beacon for their community and the world. They have trained with Dr. Harville Henricks, world renowned creator of Imago Dialogue Training for couples and Dr. David Olson, creator of Prepare-Enrich, the world’s most utilized relationship assessment in the world.
Collectively they have over 50 years of personal growth and development training. They have attended and completed over seven years of coach training programs. In addition, while completing their dissertations and studying Jungian psychology, Drs. Melvin and Sherrie became certified Myers Briggs practitioners. Melvin is an esteemed master certified Myers Briggs practitioner, 1 of 200 in North America and 1 of 23 in California listed on the Meyers Briggs website.
In their spare time, they collectively have served for over 20 years as hospice and prison volunteers. They have appeared on NBC’s award-winning show Starting Over with Iyanla Vanzant and hosted a local TV show Relationships 911.
Tell us about Your Work –
Drs. Melvin and Sherrie base a portion of their work on C. G. Jung’s quote, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Their work starts with the idea that individuals are primarily unconscious about what they do in their relationships, which in turn keeps them dissatisfied and unfulfilled in their relationships, both with themselves and others.
As depth psychologists, we use C. G. Jung’s work on typology and the unconscious to help individuals understand their personality types with the Meyers Briggs Typology Indicator. Using the MBTI instrument singles and couples discover how and why their personality type either compliments or may cause conflicts in their relationship. When we understand our personality preference and how that personality preference operates unconsciously, we are able to understand and take responsibility for those relationships with the people we love, cherish, and respect.
Additionally, we focus on the idea of singles and couples consciously focusing on spiritual instead of romantic partnerships. A spiritual partnership is based on Gary Zukav’s book, Spiritual Partnership: The Journey to Authentic Power. Drs. Melvin and Sherrie say, “Modern relationships, for the most part, have evolved beyond the stereotypical relationship model, where the focus is on happiness and freedom from our issues. Spiritual partnerships require focus on the health and well-being of the relationship, and it includes bumping up against our issues in order to grow spiritually. The couple embraces their opportunities to confront their relationship issues in order to individuate and heal old wounds from childhood, rather than focus on what Zukav calls, ‘Physical comfort and safety’.”
Our work invites the couple to put their relationship first, barring abuses of any kind, and work on growing spiritually in partnership with each other, which means consciously embracing and solving their relationship issues.
How/Why did you get into this line of work?
Sherrie Allen read a quote by a well-known spiritual leader that states, “If you want to know what your life work entails then look in your shadows.” That quote encouraged her to look at her life and confront the moment when her life changed: when her mother announced to her and her siblings that their dad had left his family and was not coming back.
Those words changed her life forever and created a pathology for how unhealthy relationship began to play out in her romantic life. As an adult, Sherrie spent the first 15 years of her life struggling in the area of relationships. When she married her second husband, Melvin, their minister invited Melvin and Sherrie, who had been doing transformational work collectively for over 35 years, to be the example of a consciously loving relationship. These words inspired Sherrie to take on the area of relationships, particularly in supporting individuals to become accountable for relationships working in our communities.
Dr. Melvin’s discovery and explanation for his marriage to Dr. Sherrie may best be summarized in the title of Professor Robert Romanyshyn’s book, The Wounded Researcher. After three failed marriages, talking to over 5,000 women, being a single parent, and homeless, he realized that his healing was to come from helping others avoid the relationship pitfalls and failures he experienced. His personal coaching clients are single professional women who have the three “C’s” cars, condos, and careers, but no relationships. Dr. Melvin’s dissertation was on the “Unconscious impact of Motown music on the psyche of African American women.”
What is most rewarding about it; what makes it all worthwhile?
The reward we get in working with couples and singles is to see couples thrive in the face of adversity and be victorious in navigating relationships that stand the test of time regardless of their shortcomings and breakdowns in their relationships. We are also inspired by singles who take the work we offer in our Relationship Training Program and use the training to attract a romantic partner who compliments them in their values. Those relationships, in our view, are most successful in the long run.
What also makes our work worthwhile is the opportunity we have as a couple to continue to grow and develop, while overcoming our own relationship issues. We are able to be authentic in our relationship journey and inspire other couples and singles to stay the course by making their relationship a priority. For example, we worked with a very devitalized couple who were separated and in divorce court. In working with us, they transformed their relationship so radically that they wrote a book about their relationship, including a chapter about working with Drs. Melvin and Sherrie Allen, as they contribute the success of their marriage to working with us. That’s rewarding!
What are the most critical problems faced?
Realizing that everyone is on his or her own timeframe and not every single or couple with whom we have worked will be successful in hair or her relationship endeavors. Relationships require patience and commitment, and not everyone has the stamina to weather the storm, no matter how hard he or she tries, regardless of the tools.
We tell couples that a successful relationship must have more than love as its glue. No one taught us relationship skills and tools in school; most people use the trial and error method, which has not served most singles and couples. We tell singles to make conscious decisions when selecting a partner, but some are so desperate they settle for less and get divorced. We usually encounter couples who are failing and singles who are resigned after unsuccessful relationships. We usually help people after the relationship damage has already been done.
We would like to start a movement to have relationship skills taught in high schools, because when the unconscious becomes conscious, we make conscious decisions.
Has there been a defining moment your life that made you decide to take the direction that you did?
Many. One example in particular: we had over 100 people attend one of our first seminars at Agape International Spiritual Center, when we had just started our practice, and we realized there was a huge demand for relationship knowledge, help, and guidance. That number of people led us to believe that the work we are doing is more of a vocation than a profession! This reinforced our understanding that our work was in our shadows. We have been offering our work to the world since then.
If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you, what would be your “dream” achievement?
Our dream achievement would be that our co-authored book, which we are in the process of writing, is published and we are invited to present as new authors at next year’s Pacifica Alumni Authors’ Panel, and our book is highly acclaimed and well received among our clients and new prospects around the world!
How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?
We have learned the value of making our relationship a priority. Because of the nature of our work, we spend a lot of time together in our practice and private lives. Also, we love what we do so much that we do not know the difference between work and play. We say when you do what you love you don’t know the difference between the two. We consciously plan many trips throughout the year, at least one from our bucket list and as many as possible mini trips, which include trips to Hawaii, Vermont in the fall, and New Orleans to eat and drink.
About Pacifica and You –
What brought you to Pacifica:
The renowned Joseph Campbell inspired us to attend Pacifica because Pacifica houses his work. We both remember watching a PBS special where Bill Moyer was interviewing Joseph Campbell, and remember Joseph saying, “Follow your bliss!” We feel that has been our intention while attending Pacifica. Pacifica was on the road to following our bliss.”
How has your Pacifica degree served you professionally in your occupation or your vocation?
Our background is life coaching, and we felt having a doctorate degree in psychology would enhance the work we do in the world, and thankfully it has on many levels. We are very respected in our communities as a result of our hard work in getting our doctorate degrees. Also, the research we have conducted in our respective dissertations have given us a new worldview on the negative impact culture has had in our relationships with ourselves and others.
How has your degree served you personally?
Our degrees have given us an added level of confidence as we share our talents in the world. Both of us have had a personal goal to obtain a Ph.D., and we feel complete in our accomplishments.
Any last thoughts/a favorite quote?
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
~ The Man in the Arena – President Theodore Roosevelt