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What is the difference between transpersonal coaching and therapy?  

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 NLP
(@nlp)
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13/06/2017 2:21 pm  

The difference between traditional coaching and psychotherapy is clear, but when transpersonal interventions are involved, the line between these 2 professions becomes less clear. Is this unclear line trivial, or should it be identified and emphasized?

Whether your reply to this topic question is in favor of a clear line between transpersonal coaching and therapy, or not, please justify why you hold your point of view.


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(@charl)
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21/06/2017 3:10 pm  

I might be wrong, but I suppose the real question would be "How useful would it be to make such a distinction?", the only use I can currently think about regarding such distinction would be for determining Scope of Practice issues to avoid legal liability and ethical violations, in which case  The difference that needs to be emphasized,  I believe is not as much in the Theory or Techniques, but rather  the difference in aims and scope of practice. Applying Transpersonal Psychology in the context of vocational or avocational self improvement for the purpose of Self realization and Self Actualization, would qualify as Transpersonal Coaching as apposed to applying it in the context of dealing with mental and emotional problems, particularly Psychopathology, for the purpose of "normalizing" a person.


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(@jevon)
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22/06/2017 6:09 am  

Hi Charl, thanks for your reply.

 

In my view, transpersonal perspectives enable coaches to help clients resolve certain issues that are typically reserved for therapy. In this way transpersonal coaching can be both remedial and generative. This does of course tread on slippery ground, as dealing with the 'past' in coaching departs from the classic coaching approach, and coaches need to know which perceptual positions both them and their clients are in throughout process. The role of a coach and the role of a therapist should be clear cut. However, the line between these two disciplines becomes less clear cut when transpersonal perspectives become involved. The Transpersonal Coaching Model is intended to provide appropriate guidelines in this regard -  http://authentic-self-empowerment.com/transpersonal-coaching-model/

 

EXAMPLE: In a recent session, my client suddenly found himself in a 3 year-old memory and the coaching process immediately turned to address a significant emotional event in the client's past, which to him represented the cause of abandonment issues that have prevailed throughout his life. Almost the entire session was focussed in the 'here and now', as that memory was brought into the foreground of the client's awareness in order for it to be addressed from a 'whole' new perspective. This is an example of how transpersonal coaching can be used to help a client resolve an issue that would typically be dealt with in psychotherapy. 

 

Do you think that practitioners who apply transpersonal perspectives in their way of working have a broader scope of interventions available to them than traditional coaches or therapists?


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(@hennie)
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22/06/2017 11:49 am  

Perhaps the distinction between transpersonal coaching, traditional coaching and conventional therapy is somewhat arbitrary. It may be useful though, in that it helps define more clearly what a transpersonal intervention is and isn't.

If we over-generalise to say that therapy is about "normalising" aspects of self that are perceived to be defective and need fixing, then it's very different from transpersonal coaching.  Another gross generalisation is to say that traditional coaching avoids the aspects of the psyche that are less functional and aims to boost only those that are progressive and positive. Jevon's Transpersonal Coaching Model, with the inclusion of domains such as the Shadow, is clearly more than that.

Neither traditional therapy or traditional coaching are comfortable with experiences that occur outside of the ego, whereas this is a cornerstone of the transpersonal.

Without the intent, openness and skills to move through all aspects of the psyche and Self - such as the Transpersonal Coaching Model allows- a practitioner may not be able to facilitate that type of more complete process for a client.


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(@charl)
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24/06/2017 5:36 am  

Thanx Jevon and Hennie

Yes there is definitely a big grey area in the overlap between coaching and therapy, especially as it involves the Trans-personal domain. To make it easier for me to determine my scope of practice though I only work on vocational and avocational self improvement, avoiding those topics or issues that are caused by medical conditions or described in the DSM. I know this is a bit of an over generalisation and that it is not as cut and dry as that, but it helps be more decisive in regards to which clients I accept and which I don't. In my opinion Coaches can sometimes be overly cautious though in addressing concerns rooted in the past. As you well know, sometimes clients come in with a "Coachable issue" and as we explore the issue, associated past events sometimes arise. To me personally the decision of whether to work with past events or not depends on the nature of the past event. For instance if I'm are working with a CEO who would like start a new project, but is hesitant due to some past experience of having failed at a project and subsequently berated by the board, which gave rise feelings of inadequacy, shame, guilt etc. then Yes I would definitely work to re-frame the past as a resource, but if the past involves abuse or severe trauma as described in the DSM then I will recognize the limitations of my scope and ability and refer out. 

That being said, I think transpersonal practitioners or coaches can however work indirectly on the past trauma  through "generative growth" by expanding and transcending the self concept or Ego self, and even through general ego strengthening, when this happens, the client will eventually begin to "out grow" their problems by becoming less fixated or attached to it. For me personally, because I am not yet familiar with your Trans personal Coaching Model (I intend to take your online course soon) I use a variety of Trans personal interventions such as various meditations and guided imagery exercises, in conjunction with coaching to help cultivate a larger perspective and a sense of Unity, Self realization, and  non-attachment. So in this way I do believe that Transpersonal approaches definitely extends a Coach's range.

I'm curious as to how you would describe the difference between remedial spiritual growth and generative spiritual or trans personal growth? in other words instead of asking what the transpersonal approach brings to either therapy or coaching, rather how does Coaching and therapy differ in there contribution towards transpersonal development?


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(@charl)
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24/06/2017 5:46 am  

Also I am with Hennie on having a  clearer description of what qualifies as a Transpersonal intervention? or under which conditions an intervention becomes transpersonal?


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(@jevon)
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24/06/2017 1:01 pm  

Thanks Hennie and Charl. Both of you are making this discussion interesting and you both pose good questions.

 

Through this discussion, as well as others that I've had with transpersonal coaching students and practitioners, it seems that transpersonal interventions can be both remedial and generative in a single session and therefore they may supersede the demarcations that typically separate traditional coaching and psychotherapy.

 

Whilst there may be a variety of ways in which transpersonal psychology can be incorporated into the praxis of coaching and therapy, the transpersonal approach might be especially useful when it comes to transcending consciousness from ego based problems to spiritual solutions. This begs the question: Can spiritual solutions be useful to people with 'real life' problems? In other words, can transpersonal insights be helpful to clients when they come to coaching in order to resolve issues on the personal or interpersonal level?

 

A transpersonal approach in coaching generally aims to help clients generate peak experiences or expanded states of consciousness. These peak/expanded states can be utilised in order for those states to become meaningful and practical to the client in the context of their 'real life' challenge, or where they require a solution to a problem. If that problem has roots in the client's past, then (as I've witnessed over and over again), the new perspectives and resources that are generated by peak/expanded states seem to have a sort of ripple effect across time and space, by virtue of the fact that clients can experience transformation at the causal level.

 

I think the quality of the transpersonal perspective that the practitioner brings to the session is of primary value, the way in which they intervene is secondary. Holding a liminal space (present, receptive and emergent) appears to have transformative value, therefore I always encourage practitioners to apply 'open awareness' throughout each session. With less value being put on the type of intervention, transpersonal practitioners (and their clients) can be less concerned whether coaching or therapy is being used.

 

I'm not proposing that a transpersonal practitioner is superior to traditional coaches or therapists. I am, however, hoping to highlight the value of having a transpersonal perspective in both of these professional roles. 

 

What's your view?


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(@hennie)
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24/06/2017 9:38 pm  

Two things come to mind, which incidently reflect how a transpersonal approach has merged with and modified my medical scientific background.

Firstly, on how appropriate a transpersonal type experience is to real life situations. The thing is, all human experiences are experienced simultaneously in different domains. There is no issue or phenomenon that occurs only on one level, albeit a pragmatic, physical, logistic, performance, psychological or spiritual one. A client may present initially with an identification more in one domain than the others, but somehow we need to involve them all for effective and meaningful change that, as Jevon describes, ripples across the entire spectrum of our being. With this in mind, an intervention that expands conciousness in an ethical and stable way and that finds manifestation in real life behaviour is most certainly appropriate for any situation. And, importantly, it is generative across the spectrum, so addressing one issue promotes growth in others too. 

Secondly, on the distinction between self improvement (coaching)  and managing "pathology" (therapy). Perhaps it is because of the profile of clients I attract, but I would struggle to artificially draw a line between those two. Even in single session, lines can blur quickly. So that CEO coming to regain his confidence may have underlying anxiety or depression, for example, or we may unearth something deeper like a traumatic past experience, or he may even have a peak experience in the course of the session. Absolutely anything is possible, and therefore our coaching /therapeutic model needs to adapt to all possibilities. Anything less goes against my holistic grain. 

Thanks for a deliciously engaging conversation. 

 

 


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(@charl)
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26/06/2017 11:03 am  

Thanx Jevon and Hennie for your insightful comments.

I like the idea of holding a "liminal" space, it has a nice ring to it and Hennie's definition of an interpersonal intervention as "expanding consciousness in a stable and ethical way" so that it finds its expression in "real life behaviour". I think we can all agree that one of the hallmarks of Transpersonal approaches is its focus on developing Consciousness and expanding the Self-Concept. My questions regarding expanding consciousness is how would we measure an expanded consciousness, are their reliable criteria  for recognising such growth or expansion and how could we use said criteria for measuring trans-personal development or growth. 

In terms of defining the difference between transpersonal therapy and coaching. If we know what the overall aims are of trans personal development and we have reliable criteria for measuring such development like maybe a taxonomy or some model of stages of transpersonal development then we could Coach a person towards such growth and probably identify certain "transpersonal pathologies" that would hinder transpersonal development and or result in abnormal trans personal development  requireing therapeutic interventions.

Any thoughts?


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(@jevon)
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27/06/2017 2:22 pm  

Charl, you provide tasty food for thought!

 

Ken Wilber's Integral Model was designed to measure states of consciousness and stages of development. Many, but not all, transpersonal practitioners are fond of Wilber's work - http://www.kenwilber.com/Writings/PDF/IntroductiontotheIntegralApproach_GENERAL_2005_NN.pdf

 

Stan Grof suggests that holotropic states are a subdivision of non-ordinary states of consciousness which can reveal levels of awareness that have been reported for ages and across a wide variety of indigenous cultures and practices, such as shamanism, Aboriginal rites of passage, healing rituals and mystical practices. According to Grof “holotropic” literally means moving toward wholeness, and the experience of holotropic states is what lead Carl Jung to assume the existence of the collective unconscious.

 

In his "Psychology of the Future" article (url below), Grof writes:

“If we study systematically the experiences and observations associated with holotropic states, it leads inevitably to a radical revision of our basic ideas about consciousness and about the human psyche and to an entirely new approach to psychiatry, psychology, and psychotherapy [and coaching]. The changes we would have to make in our thinking fall into several large categories”

  1. New understanding and cartography of the human psyche.

  2. The nature and architecture of emotional and psychosomatic disorders.

  3. Therapeutic mechanisms and the process of healing.

  4. The strategy of psychotherapy and self-exploration.

  5. The role of spirituality in human life.

  6. The nature of reality

 

(p.5) http://www.stanislavgrof.com/wp-content/uploads/pdf/Psychology_of_the_Future.pdf

 

Grof and Wilber agree on many aspects when it comes to understanding the psyche and transpersonal development, but they take distinctly different views on some matters, E.G., the famous Pre-Trans Fallacy.

 

What do you mean by “abnormal trans personal development”?


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(@charl)
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28/06/2017 12:35 pm  

Thanx for the info, it was an illuminating read. Ill be delving deeper into the work of Wilber, Grof, Assagioli, Beck and others soon. On the topic of Transpersonal Pathology or abnormal trans personal development, I would  risk saying that applying the standard notion or definition of psychopathology us used in normative psych, to transpersonal development. If the models for transpersonal development outlined by Wilber, Groff and others describe "normal" transpersonal development or states, then any significant deviation resulting in maladaptive behaviour and possible distress could possibly be deemed "abnormal transpersonal development". 

Some Anthropologists argue that the non-ordinary states of reality or consciousness or states of ecstasy experienced by Shamans are nothing more than schizophrenia, as they share many of the same characteristics, but Jeanne Achterberg disagrees saying that subtle difference between the schizophrenic and the shaman is that one is a hapless victim of his delusions and the other "Master of ecstasy" being able to enter these states at will. If the only difference between the two is the abillity to willfully enter into such a state and use it constructively as shamans tend to do, then, in my mind, it begs the question "what is schizophrenia?" and "how does it relate to expanded states of consciousness?" and if there is indeed a correlation or connection then I would say that schizophrenia could possible be deemed abnormal transpersonal development, and if that is the case then could it possible benefit from transpersonal therapy or interventions?

Also I am aware of certain groups or forms of "spiritual" development, which results in "anti social personality disorder" as it eventually leaves people without a conscience and with no empathy for others, seeing others only as a "mundane" object to be used as a means to an end. Sometimes the victims of their spiritual practices surfaces in the media as we sometimes see in cases of "ritualistic child abuse", which amongst other "sinister" practices, as they refer to it, is meant to develop a form of gnosis or expanded consiousness. This I thinkwould deviate from models developed be Wilber, such as the 4 Quadrants, because such a person would certainly be stuck in the first Quadrant or  I perspective, unable to move to the collectivist we and It's Quadrants, without the requisite empathy.

Any thoughts?


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(@hennie)
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29/06/2017 9:23 am  

This is fascinating, Charl.

If , as Grof points out, exploring the transpersonal leads to a reframing of "pathology" as you describe above, it opens up a whole new set of potential interventions.  What those interventions would look like, how they would be applied and how they would relate to modern medico-scientific dogma and practice are early and open questions.

We have much work to do, but I have a vision of a next generation of therapists/coaches that seamlessly apply a combined approach to experiences and behaviours that are disruptive to an individual's growth or functioning in society (my clumsy attempt to find an alternative term for deviation/abnormality/disease). 


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(@jevon)
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29/06/2017 12:49 pm  

Being able to integrate a spiritual/mystical/transpersonal experience into everyday is a mark of true spiritual development. Integration can be complex, but it never leads to harming oneself or others (as far as I am aware). On the contrary, empathy, compassion and benevolence become naturally occurring traits to those who have experienced such expanded states of consciousness. Ego inflation is another matter and it can be harmful. There is a forum topic for this subject – Self vs ego – https://iactm.org/tctn-forum/main-forum/self-vs-ego/#post-1

 

“Spiritual emergencies” (a.k.a spiritual crises) are problems associated with integrating spiritual/mystical/transpersonal experiences into everyday life. The work of a transpersonal therapist/coach can include helping people through such crises, provided that the therapist or coach has experience in this area and is able to distinguish between transpersonal phenomena and psychosis. Sometimes it's a very fine line.

 

“The mystic, endowed with native talents... and following... the instructions of a master, enters the waters and finds he can swim; whereas the schizophrenic, unprepared, unguided, and ungifted, has fallen or has intentionally plunged and is drowning.”

- Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By


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(@charl)
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29/06/2017 4:32 pm  

Jevon and Hennie, Thanx for the insights. I am in good company for sure!

Spiritual emergencies as Jevon describes  is a very common phenomena for a lot of "spiritual seekers", especially for those who are Unprepared and Unguided as Campbell's quote so aptly describes. A lot of people who try DMT based Psychedelics such as ayahuasca have such profound experiences that they cant possibly fit back into their prior life with their new expanded awareness, which usually results in anxiety, depression and other problems. 

If we were to work with a person experiencing a "spiritual emergency " such as above, Would we be working remedially or generatively?

An interesting point made by Micheal Hall about the difference between Coaching and Therapy is the difference in relationship between the client has with a Coach and that a patient has with a therapist. In a therapeutic relationship, the role that the therapist plays is very "supportive and nurturing" and the role of a coach is more"challenging" and sometimes somewhat confrontational as we challenge clients to step outside of their comfort zone. Micheal Hall points out that Even if we are qualified to play both roles, it is not a good Idea as it results in a kind of "role confusion" and it is also very difficult to "challenge" a client with weak Ego strength. Considering the topic of this forum discussion I would say that because there is a grey area or overlap and similar Transpersonal approaches or techniques being used for both therapy and coaching, making it difficult to distinguish between transpersonal therapy and transpersonal coaching, it might be worthwhile to distinguish between the two based on the Ego strength of the client and the kind of relationship required by the client, and then decided if we could effectively step into one role without jeopardising the other.

So if a coaching client wants to work on something possibly requiring remedial transpersonal interventions such as a spiritual crises, then as Micheal Hall suggests it might be better to refer said client to a trans-personal therapist, in order to maintain your Coaching relationship or role with the client, while working concurrently with the therapist on generative change.

What do you think? This is a complex topic for sure! I am starting to think that my own thinking on the topic is a bit binary in thinking about it in terms of either therapy or coaching, it starting to feel like as if the transpersonal approach could possibly belong to a different "logical level" transcending and including both Therapy or Coaching, in which case could it possibly be pointing to a third emerging paradigm?

 


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(@jevon)
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06/07/2017 8:59 am  

Charl, these are valuable considerations, thanks for delving in.

 

I completely agree with Michael Hall's advice regarding the importance of distinguishing between the roles of the therapist and coaching, but I believe that this pertains more to the classic/traditional roles of both the practitioner and the client in those 2 contexts.

 

Your own suggestion about the transpersonal approach belonging to a different logical level is, in my view, leading us in a constructive direction. A recent discussion with my transpersonal coaching students was focussed on the same subject as the one we're having here. What emerged from that discussion was that the role of a transpersonal coach is more like a facilitator than the classic/traditional definitions of coach. We facilitate the client's spiritual emergence. A forensic psychologist (Robin Jordan) on our course contributed a working definition of transpersonal coaching that I'm fond of:

 

“Transpersonal Coaching Psychology (TCP) is the theory and practice of coaching that takes a holistic and integrative approach to supporting client growth and transformation.  This is achieved through an individually tailored process helping the client to identify what provides them with a sense of meaning and purpose and, in turn, to support the client to find ways of purposefully expressing this – in their work, their personal life and within relationships. From a TCP perspective, the role of the coach is to support the client to develop a more expansive sense of self and, in so doing, to help the client access the necessary resources (social, emotional, psychological and spiritual) that will help them attain their fullest potential”.

 

Unlike therapy, that is mostly focussed on healing the past, and classic/traditional coaching, that is mostly focussed on working toward achieving goals in the future, transpersonal coaching is all about the present and working with the client's emerging experience in the now. In so doing, the transpersonal approach helps clients to make sense of and become accepting of their current experience. Through this, client's become empowered and resourceful, and they develop ways in which to integrate their spiritual experience into the rest of life.

 

Is this possibly the different logical level that you referred to?


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