What is Transpersonal Coaching?
From a broad perspective, coaching can be defined as a client-centred approach that focuses on well-being, performance, and movement towards future goals. Coaching is distinguished from counselling or other therapies because it focuses on potential and possibility rather than pathology (Williams & Menendez, 2015).
Transpersonal coaching has emerged as a more recent type of coaching that aligns with the paradigm of Transpersonal Psychology. This paradigm has progressed from the earlier cognitive-behavioural and humanistic approaches into a more holistic approach. It emphasizes the study of transformation and acknowledging the beyond ego, transcendent and spiritual domains of human experience.
Transformation can be understood as,
“a change in the way you see the world — and a shift in how you see yourself. It’s not simply a change in your point of view, but rather a whole different perception of what’s possible” (Schlitz, Vieten, & Amorok, 2007, p. 19)
From a transpersonal perspective, I have experienced that the traditional approaches to coaching and psychology that dominate mainstream society are limited. They are usually based on a reductionistic, ontological assumption of human experience. This paradigm does not consider the holistic, interdependent system of mind, body or spirit, including the “trans” personal potential of human nature.
Law, Lancaster and DiGiovanni (2010) suggest that coaching based on the theoretical framework of transpersonal psychology addresses these limitations because it acknowledges that many issues faced by individuals are often because of a disconnect with the transpersonal or spiritual domain. The spiritual may be defined as “an inner experience of connection to something greater than oneself, a personal sense of the sacred and meaningful.” (Lukoff, 2007, p. 635).
As a Transpersonal Coach, I recognize that experiences of burnout, a loss of meaning in one’s life, anxiety or depression might be part of psycho-spiritual transformation, which involves accessing transpersonal or regressive states. As Washburn (2013) proposes, transformation and union with the transpersonal involve “regression in the service of transcendence”.
Transpersonal coaches guide individuals towards positive transformation by holding space; a coach’s presence, intuition, and ability to relate to the client’s experience is crucial. From my experience, one of the fundamental aspects of a Transpersonal Coach is their healing presence. This is a ‘way of being’ in sessions as opposed to the use of applied techniques.
As transpersonal coaches, we do use applied ‘techniques’ but we also emphasize the holding of a compassionate and intuitive space that can be described as “a liminal space that is open, receptive and emergent and promotes transpersonal knowing” Dangeli (2022 ). In transpersonal coaching, the mindfulness technique of open-awareness is used to create a held space. It promotes a state of being where the inner and outer world merge to form a greater sense of interconnectedness. It enables one to perceive the interacting parts of a whole. It involves moving towards a non-dual awareness in which the person’s interpersonal and transpersonal aspects are embodied (Dangeli, 2022). Open-awareness can be entered into easily by the coach. The coach then attempts to guide the client into the same space using a mindfulness process that enables both individuals to experience an embodied yet expanded state of consciousness, which encourages an open, empathetic and compassionate space.
When entering open-awareness, I experience a greater sense of flow. There is an awareness of the energetic connection in myself, the other person, the space in-between, and the space beyond us. It feels expansive yet grounded, enabling me to feel more connected and guided by my intuition. When coaching others, I consider this intuitive and expanded yet present awareness to impact the client’s ability to make transformative shifts.
Davis (2014) stated that cultivating an open-monitoring style of attention training helps in the embodied awareness of oneself, others and the environment. The approach assists in developing skills such as empathy and compassion, which are essential skills for the transpersonal coach to have.
Who is Transpersonal Coaching for?
Transpersonal coaching is helpful for individuals who are experiencing burnout, anxiety or a loss of meaning and connection in life. It helps us reframe times of transition, crisis, and difficulties as an opportunity to emerge and transform; I believe that times of crisis can propel us onto a significant path of healing and transformation when we have sufficient resources and support in place. Some people come to Transpersonal Coaching as they are longing to connect with deeper meaning or purpose in life. Others have experienced spiritual or transcendent experiences that they are trying to make sense of or integrate into their lives. What makes transpersonal coaching different from other styles of life coaching, is not necessarily the issues that people come to the sessions with but the perspective taken to approach these issues. This includes using mindfulness techniques, open states of awareness and exploring alternative perspectives on one’s situation.
If you’re interested in exploring Transpersonal Coaching, you can book a 1–1 consultation here >>
Dangeli, J. (2022). Open Awareness Handbook. Seeing with New Eyes. [E-book]
Dangeli, J. (2022). The Transpersonal Coaching Handbook. [E-book]
Davis, J. H. (2014). Facing Up to the Question of Ethics in Mindfulness-Based Intervention. Mindfulness, 6(1), 46–48
Law, H. C., Lancaster, L., & DiGiovanni, N. (2010). A Wider Role of Coaching Psychology- applying Transpersonal Coaching Psychology. The Coaching Psychologist, 6(1), 22–31
Schlitz, M., Vieten, C. & Amorok, T. (2007). Living Deeply — The Art & Science of Transformation in Everyday Life. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications
Williams, P., & Menendez, D. S. (2015). Becoming a Professional Life Coach: Lessons from the Institute of Life Coach Training. New York City, NY: W. W. Norton & Company
About the Author, Jules De Vitto, MAEd, MSc Certified Transpersonal Coach and Educator
Jules De Vitto has a BSc in Psychology, MA in Education and MSc in Transpersonal Psychology, Consciousness and Spirituality.
She is an accredited and certified Transpersonal Coach, Authentic-Self-Empowerment Facilitator, as well as an experienced teacher and educator. She works as a Transpersonal Coach trainer and tutor as part of the 1-year certificate in Transpersonal Coaching Psychology through Alef Trust.
She is the founder of Highly Sensitive Humans — an online community that offers courses, coaching, articles and a podcast for Highly Sensitive People. She helps those who identify with the traits of high sensitivity to navigate emotional overwhelm, step into their authentic power and align with their true purpose in life.
She is a published author who wrote ‘Resilience: Navigating Loss in a Time of Crisis’ which provides practical resources to cultivate greater resilience and find greater meaning and purpose through times of crisis. She has published her research in the peer-reviewed journal Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal Psychology.