Metanoism: A psychospiritual framework for stewarding positive change

This podcast interview took place between Ashton Gustafson, host of Good, True, & Beautiful, and Doug Scott, LCSW. Doug’s longtime interest has been the nexus between psychology and spirituality. He holds a masters in clinical social work and a masters in pastoral ministry, both from Boston College (2004).

In this episode, Doug introduces Metanoism as a psychospiritual framework for those who desire to help steward positive change in our world. Doug understands metanoia as expanding our way of living, thinking, seeing, perceiving, giving, receiving, engaging, learning, knowing, and loving.


Apple Podcast:


Etymology of Metanoism

  • “Meta” (enlarge, broaden, transform)
  • “Noia” (nous: field of consciousness that synthesizes compassion and wisdom)
  • “-ism” (framework of concepts and praxis)


Three Steps of Metanoism


Enter into solidarity with another: “interview” (“enter-view”) or *enter* the world*view* of the other.

(Biblical image: Sitting with Job, or staying with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane)

Curious Listening: Gather a sense of who the other is.

  • What might there predominant worldview be? (understanding different models of hierarchical complexity can be helpful. ie Steve McIntosh’s Developmental Politics, metamodernism, spiral dynamics, Brian McLaren’s Recognizing Our Biases,)
  • Can we get a sense of the other’s Enneagram style?

Other curiosities can include:

  • Curiosity about values
  • Curiosity about person’s image of God
  • Curiosity about vision of a true community


Cultivate hope in another: finding out what can inspire hope for the other.

(Biblical image: walking with the hidden Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, or the Beatitudes)

  • Meaning Making: Listen for how the other makes meaning in times of difficulty
  • Resilience: Listen for what has worked for them in the past during times of difficulty 
  • Surprised by Hope: Listen for how “God” has surprised them in the past by showing up when they didn’t expect it.

Clinical Approaches

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an action-oriented approach to psychotherapy that stems from traditional behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Clients learn to stop avoiding, denying, and struggling with their inner emotions and, instead, accept that these deeper feelings are appropriate responses to certain situations that should not prevent them from moving forward in their lives. With this understanding, clients begin to accept their hardships and commit to making necessary changes in their behavior, regardless of what is going on in their lives and how they feel about it (1).

  • Motivational Interviewing (MI): “MI is a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is designed to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.”  (Miller & Rollnick, 2013, p. 29) (2)

  • Solution-Focused Brief Therapy: Focus on solutions, strengths, and health. Solution-focused brief therapy focuses on what clients can do versus what clients cannot do. Instead of focusing and exploring clients’ problems and deficiencies, the focus is on the successes and accomplishments when clients are able to satisfactorily address their problems of living. The focus is on how to notice, identify, expand, and use these successes them more often (3).

Immediate Engagement:

What are three goals they have for their lives?

What are three things they can do to accomplish each goal?

What can they practically do today or ASAP as a first step that helps them start on one or more of their goals?

What do they think is the best way to be held in loving accountability? Check in within a week? Month?


Surrender to the phenomenon of process

We fully accept that all things and all people, individually and collectively, are on a journey. This safeguards humility for the servant leader. The term “Surrender”speaks of biblical kenosis, a full surrender of oneself into Nature’s own education: evolution. 

(Biblical imagery: John 21: 15-17, Jesus sends disciples to go on mission [for their own rites of maturity])

  • Important Points:
    • Listen for examples of growth in their history
    • Relationships take time to develop. 
    • Conflicts and resistance are opportunities to pull back and re-enter the worldview of the other and re-establish what motivates them. Conflicts can serve as “green flags” to approach the relationship in a different direction. 

Helpful Metaphysics:

  • Law of Three: We learn how to look for the third way when faced with apparent conflicts. “In every new arising there are three forces involved: affirming, denying, and reconciling. The interweaving of the three produces a fourth in a new dimension.” –Dr. Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault (4).

  • Process Theology: “A theological approach that understands ultimate reality in terms of a dynamic process of becoming and ongoing change. This processive understanding may be contrasted with static notions of being that are based in Aristotelian and scholastic categories. Existence is understood in terms of the mutual interaction of entities, through which change occurs.” –Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors (5) In other words, all things are in process. God is in process, too. [Work of Alfred North Whitehead, Dr. Matt Segall, ]

Hermeneutic of Metanoism:

Hermeneutic:  refers to the bias or interpretive lens through which we engage something.

Hermeneutics of Metanoism is: Conspiring of Wholeness

  • Behind our apparent reality is a hidden wholeness.  This wholeness is breaking into our reality from the bottom up and from the top down.
  • We do not possess the ability to understand our plane of reality objectively or even subjectively.  We cannot apprehend all of the hidden elements within wholeness that emerge, surround, overshadow, penetrate, influence, affirm, and frustrate our apparent reality. 
  • We affirm that wholeness has a hidden agenda: to bring the luminosity of wholeness into the darkness of apparent separation. 
  • Everything belongs within wholeness-making. 

Epistemology of Metanoism:

Epistemology: refers to how we know what we know.

Epistemologies of Metanoism: Humility and Plurality

  • Epistemology of Humility: “Epistemic humility, as I’m using the term, refers to a responsive awareness of the limits of one’s own knowledge as well as a responsive awareness of the limits of one’s ability to independently acquire knowledge. I refer to this as responsive awareness because epistemic humility requires not only that one realize the limits of one’s knowledge, but also that one act in accordance of the limits recognized.” (Mark Satta is a 3L at Harvard Law School and Executive Online Editor for the Harvard Law & Policy Review. Retrieved 2-17-23 from
    • We can’t all be experts in everything.  It is important to recognize authorities and specialists in areas.

  • Epistemology of Plurality: “Epistemological pluralism recognizes that, in any given research context, there may be several valuable ways of knowing, and that accommodating this plurality can lead to more successful integrated study.”
    • A multi-perspectival approach to epistemology







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