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Fr. George Morelli: Chaplaincy and Counseling Articles and Reflections

image Fr. George Morelli is a seasoned professional in the areas of Clinical Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy. An active pastor and leader, he chairs the archdiocesan Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministry, and is also Religion Coordinator and Liaison of the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine. He lives in San Diego, California, where he is Assistant Pastor at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church. Fr. George has taught university and seminary courses in psychology and pastoral theology, and supervised doctoral clinical psychology interns. He has authored numerous articles in the field of psychology, and is also the author of Healing: Orthodox Christianity and Scientific Psychology. He can be heard on Ancient Faith Radio through his weekly podcast Healing: Orthodox Spirituality and Psychology. Also a regular contributor to OrthodoxyToday.org, Fr. George has graciously allowed the Antiochian Archdiocese to reproduce his writings on this website.

CE credits can be earned through SavvyCE, www.SavvyCE.com, #27447.

You can also listen to Fr. George teach via his podcast at Ancient Faith Radio.

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Chaplain's Corner + Persevering in Fearsome Situations

by Fr. George Morelli

When encountering fearsome situations some people have an automatic appraisal that they must flee from them at all costs and that they should continue to keep such dangers in mind - and even "keep dwelling on the possibility of such events occurring" again. This is described by clinical cognitive psychologist Albert Ellis, (1962)1 as being "terribly concerned about" them. Another possible common reaction is to 'freeze in place.' Granted, there are some dangerous events in which it may, in fact, be appropriate to flee or freeze. To run and call attention from someone threatening harm would be functional in some situations; naturalists, however, would advise that when coming upon a harmful animal in the wild many times it is best to immediately stop, and not move to prevent calling attention to yourself. Most common everyday situations are not this extreme, and for our well-being it behooves us to deal with them.

When I was in post-graduate clinical training under Ellis, I was instructed in the technique of performing a public "shame exercise' and then teaching the technique and encourage its use by patients who were adversely affected with fear in their daily lives. One example suggested (and that I practiced) was to go into a large department store and shout out the time of day every 10 seconds while riding up and down the escalator for a few minutes. I quickly learned that I could get through such shameful and potentially fearsome situations. The "shame exercises" given to patients as psychotherapy 'homework' are related to their particular feared circumstances. To this day, I tell patients that they are capable of carrying fears with them as they journey through their various life activities.