Fr. George Morelli
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. Continuing Education (CE) units for mental health practitioners from the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) can be earned for reading these articles. Click here and scroll down to the articles listed under Orthodox Christianity. Register online, take the course and brief examination, and print the certificate.
You can also listen to Fr. George teach via his podcast at Ancient Faith Radio.
[This is a follow up course to Orthodox Christian Spirituality and Cognitive Psychotherapy: An Online Course, that appeared in four parts over the years 2012-2013. This second course is specifically oriented to explain Orthodoxy to mental health practitioners,and serve as a useful resource for Orthodox Clergy and laity as well. Ethically, mental health practitioners should incorporate the spiritual values of their patients in the therapeutic process. The course would serve as an introduction of the Eastern Orthodox ethos and cultural traditions to these professionals.
One of the most frequently questions I am asked as Chairman of the Chaplain and Pastoral Counseling Department of the Antiochian Archdiocese is for a referral to an Orthodox mental health practitioner. Sadly Orthodoxy is not a majority spiritual tradition in North America and Orthodox practitioners are few. So careful questioning by potential patients, family and clergy of a potential practitioner regarding the practitioner's understanding and respect for the spiritual values of their patients is very important. This course is meant to aid in this inquiry.
It also should be noted that this course is an updating and reworking of a recently published chapter: Psychotherapy with members of Eastern Orthodox Churches, (Morelli, 2014).]
The Distinctive Ethos of Orthodox Spirituality and Psychotherapy
Some distinguishing features of Orthodox Spirituality need emphasis. In considering the Church as a hospital, the Orthodox view of sin should be noted; it is considered a disease, illness or infirmity in need of continual healing, in contrast to the West wherein sin is viewed in more of a juridical sense. In addition, a frequent image of sin in the Patristic literature is that of an archer 'missing the mark' (amartia). In regard to marriage and sexuality, as noted above, for Orthodox Christians the "theology of sex" based on Divine Love is at the highest principal, infinitely beyond empathy or ethical standards. It goes to the essence of God Himself, as the Church Fathers emphasized.