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Magnanimity, Mindfulness, & Metaphor. Cultivating Balance in Clients and Clinicians Texas University and College Counseling Centers Conference February 6, 2014. Magnanimity. Means “greatness of soul” Greatness results from exemplification of all virtues Virtue = mean between two extremes

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Magnanimity mindfulness metaphor

Magnanimity, Mindfulness, & Metaphor

Cultivating Balance in Clients and Clinicians

Texas University and College Counseling Centers Conference

February 6, 2014


  • Means “greatness of soul”

  • Greatness results from exemplification of all virtues

  • Virtue = mean between two extremes


  • This is what both clinicians and clients should aim for!

    • Metaphor and mindfulness embody balance and can therefore help us achieve and maintain equilibrium

    • Metaphor as liaison between visceral and cerebral man

Metaphor theory research
Metaphor: Theory & Research

  • CS Lewis

    • Myth as balance between abstract and concrete

    • Balance between world of intellect and world of experience

  • Metaphor may be fundamental to the way we experience and think

    • Cognitive experiential self theory1,2

    • Grounded cognition3 and embodied cognition4

    • Conceptual metaphor5

      • Bridge between cognition and experience

      • Deeper level of processing

Metaphor client care applications
Metaphor: Client Care Applications

  • Metaphor as a vehicle for change

    • 4 Phases/Stages

      • 1. Enter the client’s metaphoric imagination

      • 2. Explore client’s metaphoric imagination

      • 3. Transformation of client’s metaphoric image

      • 4. Connect metaphoric patterns and life problems

    • Buffer and bridge for approaching hard material

      • Art therapy, play therapy

      • Clinical examples

Metaphor self care discussion
Metaphor: Self-Care Discussion

  • Chess match/ chess master

  • Dance/ dance partner

  • Journey/ fellow traveler

  • Saving the world/ superhero

Change process m etaphor
Change Process Metaphor

  • The metaphor for how one conceptualizes the change process naturally affects and influences the therapists sense of and perceived need for self-care

    • Superhero vs. journey

      • Burnout

      • Compassion fatigue


  • “Paying attention

    on purpose,

    in the presentmoment,

    and nonjudgmentally” 6

  • Psychological, neurobiological, physical, interpersonal

  • Increases awareness of bodily sensations, thoughts, emotions; unhelpful ways of coping with stress (avoidance, fusion)

  • Fosters curiosity, acceptance, interconnectedness

  • Rooted in Buddhist meditative disciplines


  • Can be taught and practiced (neural plasticity)

  • Mindfulness-based approaches: MBSR, MBCT, DBT, ACT

    • Clients (i.e., ↓depression, anxiety, psychosis, PTSD, OCD, ↑ pain tolerance, PA)7

    • Therapists-in-training (↓ stress, NA, anxiety; ↑PA, self-compassion) 8

    • Clinician/self as instrument: client outcomes of mindful therapists-in-training(↓ anxiety, anger, somatization, obsessiveness, paranoia)9

    • Mirror neuron systems may enhance empathy

  • Mindfulness fosters intrapersonal attunement which may, in turn, enhance interpersonal attunement

Mindfulness applications
Mindfulness Applications

  • Experiential exercises

    • How do we know when we’re feeling out of tune?

      • Body Scan

      • “Leaves on a stream”

    • How do we know how to proceed? How do we sustain our instrument?

      • “Retirement party”

Discussion questions thoughts
Discussion, Questions, Thoughts?

Justine Grosso

[email protected]

Matt Breuninger

[email protected]


1 Epstein, S. (1994). Integration of the cognitive and the psychodynamic unconscious. American Psychologist, 49, 709-724.

2 Epstein, S. (1998). Cognitive-experiential self-theory: A dual process personality theory with implications for diagnosis and psychotherapy. In R. F. Bornstein & J. M. Masling (Eds.), Empirical perspectives on the psychoanalytic unconscious (Vol. 7, pp. 99-140). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

3 Barsalou, L. W. (2010). Grounded cognition: past, present, and future. Topics in Cognitive Science, 2(4), 716-724.

4Wilson, A. D., & Golonka, S. (2013). Embodied cognition is not what you think it is. Frontiers in psychology, 4.

5Wickman, S. A., Daniels, M. H., White, L. J., & Fesmire, S. A. (1999). A “primer” in conceptual metaphor for counselors. Journal of Counseling & Development, 77(4), 389-394.

6Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full Catastrophe Living. Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. New York, NY: Random House.

7Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 169-183.

8Shapiro, S. L., Brown, K. W., & Biegel, G. M. (2007). Teaching self-care to caregivers: Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the mental health of therapists in training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(2), 105-115.

9Grepmair, L., Mitterlehner, F., Loew, T., & Nickel, M. (2007). Promotion of mindfulness in psychotherapists in training: Preliminary styudy. European Psychiatry, 22, 485-489.

10Wise, E. H., Hersh, M. A., & Gibson, C. M. (2012). Ethics, self-care and well-being for psychologists: Reenvisioning the stress-distress continuum. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 43(5), 487-494.