Updated: Dec 14, 2021
Dr. Natalia V. Melgarejo
Dr. Natalia V. Melgarejo of Parlin, NJ is a Member of the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling and has been an International Representative since June 22, 2018.
My journey as an International Representative began with Dr Leo Natale, may he rest in peace.
Dr. Natale was one of the first to introduce Temperaments to the East Coast. Dr Leo Natale had such a deep passion for temperaments that he eventually went on to write five manuals describing each temperament in detail.
Leo began the FFM School of Counseling in 1998. A small school of counseling that grew to have over 1000 students. Later known as CCNI, the Faith Fellowship School of counseling offered programs in partnership with NCCA. And Dr Natale’s passion for temperaments remains even after his untimely passing in July, 2021.
I first met Dr Natale in 2004, where my counseling career began, eventually reaching a Doctoral degree, becoming an International Representative for NCCA and SACC, becoming a C.A.I., a certified Domestic Violence Counselor, Disaster Response Crisis Counselor, and culminating in taking over the school in Leo’s place in what is now El Camino School of Counseling in Sayreville, New Jersey.
As an International Representative, I have seen how important temperament counseling is, more now during this pandemic than prior to it. Before 2020, we all knew what the word “pandemic” meant. However, the “outbreak of a prevalent disease over a whole country or the world” Oxford dictionary) was something from history books or Sci-fi movies, never something we would all live through. Yet here we are.
How has the knowledge of temperaments helped in this? During this time, the School and Counseling Center staff at El Camino has been able to help not only clients, but students and their families deal with the uncertainty of the Coronavirus.
While always maintaining our focus on God, we have been able to implement breathing exercises and grounding techniques to our counseling sessions. We use coping skills for trauma and grief and have even implemented physical movement as part of our counseling sessions.
What does physical movement have to do with counseling, you may ask. Our brains work by categorizing everything in invisible boxes. Some temperaments, like the Melancholy, have very defined boxes. Yet some like the Sanguine, have blurred lines where the boxes should begin and end. But we all have boxes.
When we are overwhelmed with one or more issues in life, our brains are putting all their energy on a specific box/boxes. This can lead to stress, and if not handled correctly, eventually anxiety and panic. I help my clients realize that to stop the brain from obsessing over a single box we can just dance.
I am trained in International Ballroom Dance, and so I have willing and able clients stand up in the middle of a session and I teach them the basic steps of Rumba or Foxtrot.
How does this even work? By creating a new box in the brain, a “Rumba/Foxtrot” box, all the energy in the brain gets shifted to this new skill, and it is no longer on the issue at hand. This does not get rid of the issue, but it teaches us that we cannot obsessed over something we cannot control.
The benefit of Temperaments is that not every technique works for every temperament but knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each helps in finding something that works for every person.
One thing that at El Camino we, like our staff, clients and students to know, is that feeling anxious, or overwhelmed is a normal reaction to the unknown. Yet Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”
The world is in chaos and it will not get better anytime soon, but keeping God as a focus, continuing to seek His face, to seek His answers will keep us from allowing that chaos to affect us. Too many times we forget to seek Him, or we get so caught up with everything else going on in our lives. But He is the good Shepherd, and His mercies are new every morning.
As temperament counselors, this is something that needs to be dominant in our lives and in the lives of our clients. Philippians 4: 6-7 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
In a pandemic or not, in chaos or in calmness, no matter what is around us, Seek God First and He will tell you what to do.