By Author Marty McMorrow

Phoenix To L.A.

A Memoir

In his evocative memoir, Phoenix to LA, Marty McMorrow takes readers on a mesmerizing trek through America in the 1960’s. 


Martin J. “Marty” McMorrow

Martin J. (Marty) McMorrow dropped out of college in 1971 and, months later, found himself in the Army treating young soldiers who were addicted to heroin in Vietnam. Following his military experience, he completed a Master’s degree in Behavior Analysis and Therapy at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and has now spent 39 years participating in the lives of persons who are considered to be mentally ill, intellectually disabled, or brain injured. He has authored or co-authored more than 60 professional papers, as well as the specialty books Stacking the Deck (Research Press, 1983), Looking for the Words (Research Press, 1983), Getting Ready to Help (Paul Brookes Publishing, 2003), and The Helping Exchange: PEARL (Lash and Associates, 2005).


Since 2008 Marty has branched out to explore other “roads not taken” earlier in his life. Phoenix to LA represents his first work in novel form and is likely to be followed shortly by two others tentatively entitled Watching Raindrop Races and Spectating: A Behavioral Pathway to Bits of Heaven on Earth in which he will invite readers to consider a radically behavioral view of existence in the name of personal and interpersonal wellness.


In his spare time, Marty plays guitar in a low-key local band called Blue Afternoon, enjoys traveling with his wife and family, watches stock car races, collects antiques, and does his best to keep his old tractors running.

Other Books



Raindrop Races

Raindrop Races

Getting Ready to Help

Getting Ready to Help

The Helping Exchange

The Helping Exchange

Phoenix To L.A.

In his evocative memoir, Phoenix to LA, Marty McMorrow takes readers on a mesmerizing trek through America in the 1960’s.  Through the eyes and ears of a young man from Peoria, Illinois, we find ourselves swept up by the gritty soundtrack of a country in crisis and into the thick of the action at Chicago’s Loyola University and Edgewater Beach Hotel, Denver’s 1969 Pop Festival, the 1970 Draft Lottery, a Sambo’s restaurant in the California desert, and countless spaces in between.  By the time we reach the “High Hopes” Drug Amnesty Center, where Marty is treating young soldiers impacted by the heroin epidemic in Vietnam, we’ve discovered a time and place that the history books barely touched.




  1. Thoughts, feelings, and actions are things too
  2. There are relations among things
  3. Things are caused
  4. There will be causes for whatever happens next
  5. Recognition or awareness of causes is not necessary to be moved
  6. We are not in control of things
  7. Our self is miniscule, yet intimately connected to the social and physical world that surrounds us

Yet, while most of us casually agree with statements like these, remarkably few sense an existence in which all things are caused: including our thoughts, feelings, and actions. In 2017, most of us continue to believe we are masters of our own destinies and that we make moment-to-moment decisions or choices that influence whatever happens next in our lives. It appears that centuries of contrary learning have gotten in the way of a more accurate interpretation of what it means to exist.   

But perhaps it is time to look at things differently. Spectating: Becoming Witnesses of Life is a step-by-step excursion through some premises of behavioral science that disassembles the self-aggrandizing myths of self-control and free will and replaces them with a radically different view of ourselves and the world that surrounds us. Of particular interest is that this view can be sensually exhilarating and less burdened by unpleasant emotions such as guilt, self-deprecation, and anger.

The book provides good reasons to learn how to witness the awesome pervasiveness of external causality in our lives and to experience our intimate connection with the physical and social space in which we are moved.

Get the book. Join the conversation. Be moved.  

Raindrop Races

A fundamentally true story of two intertwined lives   

As childhood best friends, PJ and Moose grew up in a Midwestern neighborhood, ran the halls of the same parochial schools, and were rarely out of each other’s sight.  Then, the 1960’s happened.  PJ’s lust for the next thrill results in trouble.  After quick stops at the local mental health center, military school and the Marines, he winds up hustling one-arm pushups, drinking whiskey and Coke, and chasing every woman on the dark side of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip.  Moose heads off to private college, but disillusionment and drugs get the best of him.  He drops out, lands in South Vietnam, and finds himself living out of the back of his pickup truck five years after the War.  But through it all, worlds apart, PJ and Moose maintained their boyhood connection.         

Getting Ready to Help

What is the purpose of helping? Why have I become involved in a helping profession? How can my interactions get me in a better position to help? Are there ways of interacting that can improve the quality of our lives?

Direct support staff who serve individuals with a wide range of disabilities — including developmental, psychiatric, and traumatic brain injuries — will explore these and many other questions in this practical, provocative, and inspirational handbook. This concise guide is written by a veteran of the direct support field, who draws on more than 30 years of service in diverse settings to shed light on what works and doesn’t work. Readers will get straightforward, real-world advice on key issues like:

  • recognizing and avoiding potentially harmful interactional styles
  • developing a deeper understanding of behavior
  • forming relationships that benefit both the helper and the person being helped
  • promoting autonomy and independence in individuals
  • creating personal intervention plans
  • using positive reinforcement to increase desired behavior
  • finding joy in the experience of helping others

Sensitively written and enriched with stories from the author’s personal experience, this easy-to-read book is ideal for staff training seminars, new employees, or seasoned professionals seeking a fresh perspective on helping.

Praise for Marty’s book, “Getting Ready to Help”


“Marty McMorrow’s new book will be helpful for clinical staff, managers and direct support professionals. He provides remarkable insight into communication, behavior and human interaction. This is a critical staff development tool.” —

– Cathy Ficker-Terrill, President of Ray Graham Association for People with Disabilities


“McMorrow’s Getting Ready to Help is much more than a primer. It is a philosophy and approach to helping people, regardless of their disabling conditions or the accompanying behaviors, with dignity and respect. Better yet, when helpers use this approach, it really works.”

– Kate Fralish, Ph.D., Center for Comprehensive Services, Inc.


“In my 32 years of Human Service work, this is the best book I have read that speaks directly to any worker with front line responsibility in supporting people with disabilities…. Taking focused theory, McMorrow has woven personal experiences into simple strategies for successful intervention. This is must reading for new employees or ancillary staff who relate to people with disabilities.”

– Al Condeluci, Ph.D., CEO, UCP of Pittsburgh

The Helping Exchange

The Helping Exchange

This behaviorally-oriented rehabilitation manual provides a down-to-earth, easy to implement model that is designed to teach, strengthen, and evaluate desired skills in human service interactions.

Use of the 5-component PEARL interactional model can provide the foundation for everything else we do
in the name of helping others.  The PEARL is now being used to guide interactions in rehabilitation programs, community-based support settings, and family homes across the country.  This no-nonsense approach sets the bar with respect to identifying desired interactional skills, creating clear expectations around their use, and evaluating whether or not caregivers are practicing what they preach. 

The Helping Exchange is based on the following principles…

Positive- defines and invites positive interactions.

Early- stresses importance of interacting early by providing help or problem solving and not waiting until a risky situation develops.

All- shows how to use all components with all people in all settings all of the time.

Reinforce- shows how to interact in ways that acknowledge more independent behavior and encourage
future use of the behavior.

Look- identifies opportunities to teach and encourages greater participation in the community.

Examples illustrate how to apply the P.E.A.R.L. to clients with behavioral, emotional and cognitive disorders. A score sheet provides a rating scale to observe interactions and rate performance.

Feel free to contact Marty.

12 + 14 =


»Oct. 24, 2010  Guest appearance on WGN Chicago’s “Sunday Papers” show with Rick Kogan (click link for podcast audio), who refers to “Phoenix to LA” as an “Unbelievable, compelling story…”

»Oct. 21, 2010 – Invited Presentation for the Southern Illinois Writers Guild

»Sept. 10, 2010 – Book has been converted as an ibook, available for the ipad at Apple’s ibookstore.

»Sept. 9, 2010  – Marty is scheduled to appear on Rick Kogan’s WGN “Sunday Papers” radio show on Oct. 24 at 7:30 AM.  Mr. Kogan “likes the book a great deal.”

»August 14, 2010 – Q&A with Seattle/Walla Walla Book Club (Marty will phone conference with interested Book Clubs free)

»July 24, 2010 – Book Signing at Anthill Gallery and Vintage Curiosities in Cobden, IL, 6:00-8:00pm, related article in Carbondale Nightlife

»July 15, 2010 – Radio Interview: The Greg and Dan Show on 1470 WMBD (mp3)

»July 14, 2010 – Facebook Group “Martin J. ‘Marty’ McMorrow” etablished.

»July 14, 2010 – Book Signing at I Know You Like a Book in Peoria Heights, IL, 6:00pm

»June 2, 2010  Local author to appear to two book signings, The Southern

»June, 2010  A coming-of-age story set amidst social change (article and podcast)

»May 5, 2010  Phoenix to L.A. released on

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»Book cover design by Chris McMorrow, website design by Amy McMorrow Hunter