Melissa Johnson Carissimo


Creator of Metaphoric Affect Processing and the Metaphor-Mirror

Melissa Johnson Carissimo has been developing, researching and teaching Metaphoric Affect Processing in oncology, psychiatry, palliative care and nephrology in Genoa's largest public hospitals since 2011. 

She studied at Amherst College, earned her degree in Literature and Writing from Columbia University, and pursued a career in New York literary publishing and film development before moving to Genoa, Italy.

She divides her time between New York and Genoa, where she is a Professional Counselor trained in Carl Rogers' Person-Centered Approach. Designing and implementing projects in the fields of medical humanities and narrative medicine, she guides individuals, groups, public healthcare clients and medical staff in the use of metaphor to foster wellbeing in the contexts of both illness and health. 

Publications IN PRESS:  

- Johnson Carissimo, M. (2020). Metaphoric Affect Processing: Reflecting and transcending self as metaphor. In M. Bazzano (Ed.), Revisioning Existential Therapies: Countertraditional perspectives. London,  Routledge. 

- Johnson Carissimo, M. (2020). Rewriting burnout: Metaphoric Affect Processing and healthcare. Metaphor and the Social World, John Benjamins Publishing Company. 

Conferences, Seminars & Workshops

Metaphoric Affect Processing & "The Metaphor Mirror"

Researching Metaphor - Cognitive and Other / Autour de la Metaphor: Cognitive et d'Autres Approches

Conference, May 2019

Genoa, Italy

- Presenter: "Metaphoric Affect Processing helps patients identify, verbalize and regulate emotion during kidney dialysis."

The Moscow Service of Psychological Assistance to the Population,

Department of Labor and Social Protection of the Population

Seminar, January 2019 


- Seminar leader: full-day introduction to MAP, attended by government-employed psychologists and employment counsellors, offered in simultaneous English to Russian translation:

"Emotion becomes Poetry: Identifying, verbalizing and regulating affect as metaphor, in theory and in practice." 

Moscow Two-Day Intensive; 

Metaphor-based Counseling and Empathic Self-Reflection

Seminar, January 2019


- Seminar leader: Two-day self-reflection and empathic listening workshop, culminating in individual metaphor-based problem-solving sessions.

Russian Federation PCA

(Person-Centered Approach)

Conference, October 2018


- Guest speaker: Experiential and theoretical seminar via Skype: “Metaphoric affect processing: Emotion becomes poetry.” 

13th World PCE (Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapy and Counseling) 

Conference, July 2018


"Facilitating Hope – Personal and Societal Challenges" 

- Presenter: “Metaphor-based dialogue in-hospital: Hope, empathy, and poetic screening for depression.”

- Workshop leader: “The Metaphor Mirror: Identifying, verbalising and regulating affect as metaphor.”

RaAM 12 (Researching and Applying Metaphor) 

Conference, June 2018

Hong Kong 

"Metaphor across Contexts and Domains: from Description to Application"

 - Presenter: “Metaphor-based dialogue in-hospital: Relief, empathy, and screening for depression.” 

- Workshop leader: “Burnout: Awareness and prevention through metaphor-based dialogue.” 

Biblioteca Berio e l’AVO


Genoa, Italy

"La Forza del Volontariato”

- Guest speaker: “Strumenti d’Ascolto.” 

Biblioteca Berio e l’AVO


Genoa, Italy 

“La Gioia di Vivere” 

- Guest speaker: "Lo Specchio Metaforico: Il Progetto Pazienti Poeti."

Presenting with Prof. Franco Henriquet, Presidente Ass. Gigi Ghirotti, e Prof. Emilio Maura 

Istituto Giannina Gaslini e l’Associazione Volontari Ospedalieri


Genoa, Italy

- Guest speaker: “Lo Specchiamento Metaforico e l’Approfondimento dell’Ascolto.”