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Julie Morrell, MFT


A Courage Challenge: What would be the most courageous thing for you to do?

What could you do that would stretch your courage muscle and make it stronger?

And I am not talking about the kind of courage that it takes to reach into a toilet bowl, after you dropped your watch in it, as courageous as that may be, but a different kind of interpersonal courage.

For instance: If you naturally default to wagging your finger in front of someone’s face when you are angry, or go on and on venting, then your most brave & courageous & adult exercise for you would be to sit and listen.

IF you naturally get quiet when someone is angry at you the most courageous thing for you to do, is to speak your mind ( in a calm way) and speak the truth as you see it.

If you typically bury your head in the sand when a family member is having a hard time, the more courageous thing to do for you is to reach out and offer your support.

If someone has hurt your feelings and your natural default is to get mean and nasty to them, then the more courageous thing for you to do would be to say (or show) that your feelings are/were hurt & show your saddness.

Someone elses default, might be your courageous path. The courageous path, is to do the more adult thing that requires bravery on your part, because it is a part of you that you have rarely expressed in the past.

Cruetly is never brave. It’s cheap and thug-like. If you don’t own growing yourself up, who will?

The more we own growing ourselves up, the more rich and fulfilling our connections with others will be.

Being Aware of Your Inner Rebel

I often see an Inner rebel in someone abruptly arrive on the scene when I am doing couples counseling work. Obviously couples who seek couples counseling, will often feel not only frustrated but also rebellious toward each other. I am sure that’s not surprising to you, right?

While they are in session with me perhaps a story of what happened between them isn’t told quite right by the other, so there is eye rolling, and heaving sighing. Or a partner’s interpretation of what really happened irritates the other, and suddenly the inner rebel of one or both parties appears on the scene.

When in a relationship an inner rebel could simply pop into the counseling room because things are not going our way. Or we feel bored, trapped or disrespected in some manner. Someone’s inner rebel can be triggered to arrive on the scene simply because of needing to deal with some injustice that is or was perceived. It might not be a real injustice, but if it’s perceived as real it does explain the confusing indignant behavior that might suddenly take place. This could be very perplexing to the spouse who didn’t intend for an injustice to be perceived.

Have you ever thought about your own inner rebel and what happens in your life to bring your inner rebel out?

Think about this, what happens in your life that makes you not want to be cooperative or respectful to your partner or a co-worker?  What makes you not want to be kind and gentle to the people around you? Is it because you feel your partner or co-worker isn’t or wasn’t considering your feelings? That’s usually what does it.

The Inner Rebel can get you into serious trouble when you are in an important relationship. You might talk back to your boss or lash out at someone you care about. Either with your words or your behavior states, “I don’t care about your feelings.” And not saying anything can be just as rebellious as calling someone names.

The silent treatment is also not a sign of maturity either. Although sometimes, it’s a good and wise to be silent in the heat of the moment to not say something in anger that you might regret later.

I have heard couples recently call each other names like you are insane, ( when they clearly are not) but it’s a way of exhibiting the inner discontent and rebelliousness to what may currently be going on.

And obviously this is not a way to handle things with maturity and respect.

The release of pent up anger or energy and calling people names or exhibiting your distaste for them might feel good in the moment, but it could cost you or job or the relationship in the long run.

And if your friends see you handle your partner in this way, they will then get a sense of how you might handle a conflict with them in the future. So you have to consider is that what you really want?

Learning mature communication skills will make such a huge difference but these mature skills are hard to employ when someone is triggered to emotionally feel that an injustice has taken place.

So then it might mean that we may need to figure out what negative childhood experiences might be influencing how we are reacting to our partner and co-worker.

An unhealed childhood experience that might have left you feeling enraged, disrespected, or powerless might be the driving force of causing your rebel side to take over an interaction.

So think about this, who is in control here? The mature side of you, or your rebel side?

Maybe your parents often told you to be nice to someone who wasn’t nice to you, or maybe your parents didn’t support you in some important ways in your childhood and that anger toward them is still leaking into your current relationships. Maybe your parents didn’t have mature communication with each other, so no one modeled for you how to do that. Or maybe your voice was not heard by your parents when you were a child and so you learned to not speak up for yourself because it didn’t make a difference.

Or you felt like you had to be really different to be noticed or heard.

Or maybe your parents did not place importance on your childhood thoughts and opinions and you were not considered or taken seriously, so you again learned to not speak up for yourself, or the opposite you learned to be oppositional in quiet or aggressive ways to get attention.

Often times these childhood strategies worked for you in childhood, however, if you are still employing these strategies perhaps they are not working so good at this juncture in your life.

As surprising as it might be the energy of your rebel side has a good part to it too. Use this energy to be creative.

Think about how you canstand for something, rather than rebel against. Often times in therapy we together have to work through how the rebel gets activated in unhealthy ways, and figure out ways to heal the rebel and learn some healthy ways to calm down the rebel part of you. So the rebel works with you and not against you.

Maybe there is a cause that your rebel side can embrace. Maybe you can make your rebel side work for you rather than against you by adding more balance in to your life.

Maybe you can learn to give your rebel some creative space to take part in politics, sports, or a charity that could use you. And/or maybe you can heal the hurt little rebel inside by learning to ask for what you want in a clear, mature, direct way. Often times the rebel doesn’t realize that all we have to do is simply ask for what we want. Others won’t always comply, but they definitely won’t comply when a hidden wish or desire remains unexpressed. The evidence of the rebel part having grown up is that when triggered this part has learned to communicate it’s needs in an adult respectful way. ~

“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

Quote by Dorothy Nevill


Julie Morrell, MFT


How Does Therapy/Counseling Work?

By Julie Morrell, MFT

When you are hurting inside and you feel stuck in your life circumstance, seeing a professional will often times aid in helping you get unstuck from your current situation.  Therapy will often help you see your situation with more clarity, and path forward movement will start to emerge.
Talking and venting with friends and family members may help you feel better temporarily, but the friend and family member won’t be able to help you move beyond that stuck feeling.

Venting can feel good, but unfortunately it won’t take your life in a different direction. Well meaning friends are precious in providing a listening ear, however it’s very likely they do not have the skill or the expertise to help you make a change happen. With therapy, the therapist should be able to help you move away from that stuck feeling rather quickly. To the point where you can see what skills you might need to learn, or what trauma you might need to process and overcome.

And/or in addition a relationship resolution will begin to take place. To the point where you feel more skillful with your personal relationships and less bothered by people who in the past have annoyed you. In addition, there should be a sense on your part, that the therapist cares and understands your situation and your take on what’s going on in your life.

Counseling is a process of treatment where the therapist uses a variety of specialized caring techniques to help people overcome feelings of emotional pain, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems. Therapy can help you see your own path for self-improvement. On average my clients are often in therapy with me approximately 6 to 8 sessions.

Interestingly enough, those that are with me for less time, are often younger, and/or sometimes have had therapy before, but needed just a few more steps to connect the dots. Clients who are in therapy slightly longer typically have had some significant trauma in their past that needs to be processed.

If you recognize that you could benefit from seeking professional help, we will work together in identifying what your goals are, and you will see when you are making progress. As your personal therapy progresses you will begin to feel safe to talk more deeply about your more painful experiences in life that have caused you distress.  Becoming free from  distress means removing counter-porductive emotional patterns. And to begin to view yourself and others through a more compassionate perspective.

It is the beginning of talking about these things in therapy, you will eventually put them in a new and different perspective for yourself, that will help you make lasting positive changes in your life.

It takes great courage to take a deep look at ones life with another. I am blessed to work with the most courageous people on earth because taking a deep look into ones life and making changes is not for the faint at heart.

Julie Morrell, MFT

2207 Garnet Ave,

San Diego, CA 92109



What is PTSD? Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur after you have been through a traumatic event. A traumatic event is something horrible and scary that you see or that happens to you. During this type of event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger. You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening.

Anyone who has gone through a life-threatening event can develop PTSD. These events can include:

  • Combat or military exposure
  • Child sexual or physical abuse
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Sexual or physical assault
  • Serious accidents, such as a car wreck.
  • Natural disasters, such as a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake.

After the event, you may feel scared, confused, or angry. If these feelings don’t go away or they get worse, you may have PTSD. These symptoms may disrupt your life, making it hard to continue with your daily activities.

How does PTSD develop?

All people with PTSD have lived through a traumatic event that caused them to fear for their lives, see horrible things, and feel helpless. Strong emotions caused by the event create changes in the brain that may result in PTSD.

Most people who go through a traumatic event have some symptoms at the beginning. Yet only some will develop PTSD. It isn’t clear why some people develop PTSD and others don’t. How likely you are to get PTSD depends on many things:

  • How intense the trauma was or how long it lasted
  • If you lost someone you were close to or were hurt
  • How close you were to the event
  • How strong your reaction was
  • How much you felt in control of events
  • How much help and support you got after the event

Many people who develop PTSD get better at some time. But about 1 out of 3 people with PTSD may continue to have some symptoms. Even if you continue to have symptoms, treatment can help you cope. Your symptoms don’t have to interfere with your everyday activities, work, and relationships.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms of PTSD can be terrifying. They may disrupt your life and make it hard to continue with your daily activities. It may be hard just to get through the day.

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not happen until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you probably have PTSD.

There are four types of PTSD symptoms:

  1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms):Bad memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place. You may have nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger — a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event. Triggers might include:
    • Hearing a car backfire, which can bring back memories of gunfire and war for a combat Veteran.
    • Seeing a car accident, which can remind a crash survivor of his or her own accident.
    • Seeing a news report of a sexual assault, which may bring back memories of assault for a woman who was raped.
  2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event:You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event. For example:
    • A person who was in an earthquake may avoid watching television shows or movies in which there are earthquakes.
    • A person who was robbed at gunpoint while ordering at a hamburger drive-in may avoid fast-food restaurants.
    • Some people may keep very busy or avoid seeking help. This keeps them from having to think or talk about the event.
  3. Feeling numb:You may find it hard to express your feelings. This is another way to avoid memories.
    • You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships.
    • You may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy.
    • You may not be able to remember parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.
  4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal):You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as hyperarousal. It can cause you to:
    • Suddenly become angry or irritable
    • Have a hard time sleeping.
    • Have trouble concentrating.
    • Fear for your safety and always feel on guard.
    • Be very startled when something surprises you.

What are other common problems?

People with PTSD may also have other problems. These include:

  • Drinking or drug problems.
  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair.
  • Employment problems.
  • Relationships problems including divorce and violence.
  • Physical symptoms.

Can children have PTSD?

Children can have PTSD too. They may have the symptoms described above or other symptoms depending on how old they are. As children get older, their symptoms are more like those of adults. Here are some examples of PTSD symptoms in children:

  • Young children may become upset if their parents are not close by, have trouble sleeping, or suddenly have trouble with toilet training or going to the bathroom.
  • Children who are in the first few years of elementary school (ages 6 to 9) may act out the trauma through play, drawings, or stories. They may complain of physical problems or become more irritable or aggressive. They also may develop fears and anxiety that don’t seem to be caused by the traumatic event.

What treatments are available?

When you have PTSD, dealing with the past can be hard. Instead of telling others how you feel, you may keep your feelings bottled up. But treatment can help you get better.

There are good treatments available for PTSD. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)appears to be the most effective type of counseling for PTSD. There are different types of cognitive behavioral therapies such as cognitive therapy and exposure therapy. A similar kind of therapy called EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is also used for PTSD. Medications can be effective too. A type of drug known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which is also used for depression, is effective for PTSD.