Loveology- Practicing the Science of Love
By Lynne Friedman
After talking with sex expert Ava Cadell, I felt like I needed a cigarette (and I don’t even smoke). With doctorates in human behavior and human sexuality. Cadell is candid about the details of her practice. She is a “loveologist”- a term she coined.
“Loveology is the science of love,” Cadell said in her characteristically soft voice during an interview at her Malibu ocean-view home. “Under the umbrella of loveology, my practice can incorporate romance, intimacy, sex, erotica and anything else that works.”
And it has worked. Cadell has helped thousands of people improve their relationships. Her clientele includes celebrities, power couples and singles in Malibu and around the world-people who need advice, therapy and, well… “coaching.”
Cadell views “love coaching” as an evolution of life coaching.
“People are looking for guidance,” she said. “There are coaches for nutrition, fitness and finance. So, why not love?”
Cadell conducts therapy sessions in her art-deco-style Hollywood office as well as over the phone and the internet, but she does not believe in long-term therapy.
“Generally, the maximum time I like to see people is six weeks,” Cadell said. “Intimacy problems almost always stem from something else and I like to get right to the core of the problem.”
Getting to the core does not always start out with the “hardcore.” Cadell begins with many of her couples’ treatments by giving her clients a “Mutual Love Agreement” to fill out. The contract requires people to spell out their boundaries on everything including the social, spiritual, sexual and financial elements of a relationship.
“The purpose is to create a love contract under your own terms and then make each party accountable,” she said.
“Accountability” sounds a bit dry, but it gets sexier. Cadell moves into the physical realm with what she calls “lovework,” a six-week homework program that she individually tailors to each client. The exercises often involve tantric techniques including breathing, movement, sound and muscle lock, and focusing on the journey to a healthy, loving relationship.
One Malibu couple’s journey in the opposite direction changed when they started seeing Cadell.
“My husband and I had seen three marriage counselors and were on the verge of divorce,” said Lauren, an artist in her early fifties. “It just wasn’t working.”
Raising three children and paiting kept Lauren up late at night. Her husband’s career and his obsession with golf got him to bed early most nights, in anticipation of an early-morning tee time. Years of divergent schedules and disagreements on parenting and other issues has taken a toll on the couple’s ability to interact romantically.
“Even though we were together for twenty-five years, we were two separate people on different journeys,” Lauren said. “It would have been so easy to throw in the towel.”
Cadell employed a six-week “Passion Power” treatment program and the couple reconnected.
“Ava taught us that the most important thing was the ability to communicate.” Lauren said. “It wasn’t easy and we had to do a lot of homework with each other, but we learned to get through the anger and find love again. In terms of sex, she was able to put us back on track.”
They each changed their schedules, communicated more and found new ways to enjoy each other’s company. It weas a success.
The definition of success in sex therapy has been a source of debate for decades. In the traditionally defined clinical field of sexology, pioneers Masters and Johnson used climax and male potency as statistical markers for successin many of their studies. In Cadell’s practice of loveology, success is when both people have their needs met.
“It doesn’t always mean saving a marriage,” Cadell said. “Some people need help breaking up and moving on, and that can be equally as satisfying.”
Cadell also works with singles. Filmmaker Lori G., former Malibu resident, had issues stemming from a history of sexual abuse. “I had gone through a lot of difficulty and pain.” Lori said. “I had number myself out completely.”
Cadell delved into Lori’s case using hypnotherapy. “She worked me through the rape and the abuse, and it got me away from my fear of others,” Lori said. “What I went through as a child shouldn’t end my feelings for others. I am slowly starting to date again.”
Breaking bad patterns is a subject that Cadell knows initimately. She has enjoyed a twenty-one-year bond with her husband, renowned celebrity lawyer Peter Knecht, but the relationships of her youth were not as idyllic. A victim of abuse in her early years, she was born in Hungary and spent her childhood in an Austrian orphanage. “I grew up feeling ashamed of my body and guilty about sex,” she said.
Her teenage years riddledwith bad relationships involving rape and abuse. “I hit rock bottom,” Cadell said. “That was when I realized that I needed to learn as much about the love and sex of a healthy relationship that I could.”
Cadell, who had moved to California and accumulate a number of acting credits, chose the path of education and received her doctorates from Newport University and from The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Fransisco.
“The meaning of life is learning to give and receive love, and that’s why I’m here. I want to change humanity for the best and leave a legacy of helping a lot of people,” Cadell said.
A public speaker and author of several books including “12 Steps to Everlasting Love” (Peters Publishing, 2002) and “Stock Market Orgasm” (Peters Publishing, 1999), her legacy has extended to include the accredited online institution Loveology University, www.loveologyuniversity.com, which she founded.
The university’s curriculum ranges from subjects such as erotic talk and aphrodisiacs to a professional program that certifies love coaches. The Web site also enables users to download tools for themselves, such as a sample of the “Mutual Love Agreement” that Cadell uses in her couples therapy.
On a tour through her and her husband’s home, I spied a surrealist piece of art that she had painted. It hung just outside the couple’s bedroom.
That’s Adam and Eve,” she said. “It doesn’t matter whether they exist or not, or what form they take. It is a symbol of two hearts becoming one, and that ‘one’ is love.”