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What is the difference between transpersonal coaching and therapy?  

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Member Moderator
Joined:1 year  ago
Posts: 11
06/07/2017 6:04 pm  

This all makes good sense.

I appreciate Robin's definition, particularly highlighting the integrative and facilitative nature of transpersonal coaching.

We could continue to play devils advocate though. What really is the distinguishing feature of a transpersonal intervention?

Is it, as Jevon says, that the transpersonal coaching is focused on the experience in the now, as opposed to a past focus, or a future focus? However, interventions like past regression and future sourcing/vizualization are important modalities in the transpersonal coaching, albeit in the context of how they have influenced the present. And to be fair, both modern therapy and traditional coaching have been influenced by the mindfulness movement, and are focussing more and more on the experience in the now. So is this really something that sets it apart?

Is it the integrative and holistic nature of the transpersonal? But therapeutic modalities have a strong tradition of integration too, for example Jungian individuation.

Perhaps then, it's that a transpersonal coaching intervention does what it does through a shift in conciousness. This may be so core to this modality that if  it doesn't facilitate some sort of non-ordinary state of consciousness, it's something else. Therapy and coaching may also induce such states along the way, but that's not their foundation while for the transpersonal coach this is the bedrock and always the first step.

Or perhaps not. 

Active Member
Joined:1 year  ago
Posts: 15
14/07/2017 4:06 pm  

Hennie, your post is especially helpful, as it points out a distinguishing characteristic of transpersonal coaching – being the facilitation of a “non-ordinary” state of consciousness as its first step. In this context non-ordinary would mean at least 2 main things:


  1. Other than (different from) the ordinary or typical way in which the client experiences their issue. This could come about from adopting new points of view (perceptual positions) in the issue context, which in turn can offer the client new ways in which to interpret the issue and new choices regarding how to respond to it.


  2. Beyond the ordinary way in which the client experiences themselves in the context where they have been experiencing an issue. By helping the client to expand their sense of self (identity) and establish a transpersonal (non-ordinary) state and perspective, they usually experience what was previously identified as a problem in a whole new way. This, in turn, reframes the meaning of the former problem and promotes empowered and intelligent responses in relation to it.


It could be argued that the first example above is more the scope of traditional coaching and the second example incorporates more of a transpersonal approach. To this I would say that both means of intervening are available to transpersonal coaches, however the state and perspective of open awareness is what transpersonal practitioners bring to the sessions. Therefore, the first step, even before any form of intervention with the client ensues, is that the transpersonal practitioner establishes open awareness (an appropriate non-ordinary state for coaching and therapy) and then from that state and perspective they can select the most constructive way of intervening.


Open awareness might be what distinguishes a transpersonal approach from traditional coaching. It may even be what transpersonal coaching and therapy have in common. What do you think?

Active Member
Joined:6 months  ago
Posts: 3
06/03/2018 3:56 pm  

I think this distinction we have of "non-ordinary states of reality or consciousness" is interesting because as a practitioner doing past life regression, we're allowed to work with clients having a spiritual crisis, and most clients come for this reason - but we are forbidden from working on clients who have schizophrenia.

So we are allowed to take clients into an altered or trance state and access spiritual information, but forbidden to work on clients with mental issues as they might have trouble integrating the experience.

Member Moderator
Joined:1 year  ago
Posts: 11
06/03/2018 7:02 pm  


It's true that in transpersonal coaching we are wary of clients who may have so-called mental disease. This is especially true of so-called disorders that have potentially brittle, unstable or distorted perceptions of reality - such as schizophrenia.

I use the word "so-called"  purposefully because pathology is traditionally the language of conventional psychology or psychiatry and deviations from what is considered normal. Transpersonal coaching in principle would consider that the therapeutic and responsible use of altered states would be of value in any setting, even those labelled as mental disorders, since, as you point out, everything at some point has a spiritual or at least a transpersonal dimension.

But (and I consider this a very important but) responsible use of altered states in a coaching session may require us to apply caution in these clients, modify our approach and work very closely with other therapists and healthcare  professionals. If in doubt, and unless we have experience with potentially psychotic clients, I would defer state alterating processes here.

This is because, at least in my experience, clients with patterns that are characterisic of schizophrenia, react and engage differently. It's as if the playing fields and rules of the game are different. Processes work differently, clients process differently. Not necessarily disorderly or pathologically, but differently, often with chaotic outcomes.

So perhaps forbidden to work with is too strong a word, but very cautious is good advice.

As transpersonal coaching grows, this is a potentially very important area in which we are still to learn much. 

Would like to hear other opinions on this... 


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The Evolution of Coaching Psychology article