Dr. Gregg Henriques: CALM-MO – An Integrative Approach to Mindfulness | Doing Well #46

In this episode, host Lu Ngo is joined by Dr. Gregg Henriques who is a licensed clinical psychologist and author of "A New Unified Theory of Psychology"

The episode explores key aspects of being mindful, including increasing awareness, acceptance, and meditative mindfulness practices such as focused breathing meditation. It highlights the importance of developing a healthy relationship with oneself and understanding the grip of the self in order to promote optimal functioning and personal development.

Meet Dr. Gregg Henriques

Dr. Gregg Henriques is an accomplished psychologist and author. He holds a Ph.D. and is the author of A New Unified Theory of Psychology. Currently, he serves as the director of the Combined Clinical and School Psychology Doctoral Program at James Madison University. 

Dr. Gregg earned his M.A. in Clinical/Community Psychology from UNC-Charlotte and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Vermont. He also underwent post-doctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania under the guidance of Aaron T. Beck, where he explored the effectiveness of cognitive psychotherapy interventions for suicide and psychosis. He teaches various courses at James Madison University, including personality theory, personality assessment, social psychology, and integrative adult psychotherapy. 

About the episode

In this episode, Dr. Gregg explains how he has developed an integrative approach to mindfulness called CALM-MO (Clinical Assessment of Meditation and Mindfulness Orientations). CALM-MO combines elements from Eastern contemplative traditions and Western psychotherapy.

According to him, CALM-MO recognizes 2 main strands of mindfulness: meditative mindfulness, which focuses on practices like meditation and the witnessing function, and psychological mindfulness, which involves understanding and working with the grip of the self rather than detaching from it.

While CALM-MO incorporates aspects of meditative mindfulness for cultivating awareness and acceptance, its primary emphasis is on psychological mindfulness, which is particularly relevant to psychotherapy. The goal is to create a “holding environment” for the self rather than striving for non-attachment.

He says that CALM-MO draws insights from various mindfulness traditions and psychotherapy approaches, such as behavioral, humanistic, and psychodynamic, within the framework of Dr. Gregg’s unified theory of psychology.

Dr. Gregg highlights a few key aspects of being mindful: increasing awareness, accepting what is, and practicing meditative mindfulness. Meditative mindfulness involves techniques like focused breathing meditations to calm the mind and shift the attention to the witnessing function. It’s all about training the awareness of present-moment experiences without judgment.

Here are some key details about the CALM-MO approach to mindfulness based on the podcast:

  • It focuses on developing a relationship with both the self and awareness through mindfulness. The goal is to foster healthier relating to the self versus dysfunctional patterns.
  • It attends to how the self can get “grippy” or stuck in certain patterns, seeking to understand self-functions rather than dissolve the self.
  • The approach involves toggling between holding one’s consciousness/awareness and also knowing/holding one’s sense of self.
  • Key practices involve focused meditation to shift attention between self and witness functions/present experience.
  • The goal is personalizing mindfulness for self-understanding through a therapeutic lens, rather than purely focusing on presence, acceptance or non-attachment.

In conclusion

The episode delves into Dr. Gregg Henriques’ CALM-MO approach to mindfulness, which combines elements from Eastern contemplative traditions and Western psychotherapy. CALM-MO emphasizes psychological mindfulness over detachment and seeks to create a holding environment for the self. It draws insights from various mindfulness traditions and psychotherapy approaches to promote optimal functioning and personal development.

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