What is transformational coaching?

You may have come across the term transformational coaching, but what actually is it?


What's the difference between life coaching and transformational coaching?

It's often stated that transformational coaching is a type of coaching that focuses on helping individuals achieve significant personal or professional changes and growth in their lives. It's thought that it goes beyond traditional coaching approaches, which primarily address specific goals or skill development.

However, in reality, what's often labelled as transformational coaching, I would simply call 'good coaching'. Coaching should be transformational and, to get real change of any sort has to work holistically across all aspects of life. Coaching should delve into the deeper aspects of a person's beliefs, values, mindset, and self-perception to create profound shifts in their way of thinking and being.

Each of our individual lives is a system. Change one part of that system and the rest has to change, too. If a client wants to make a lasting change in their lives, then personal beliefs, values and mindset will always have to be explored and factored in. Without this, I personally don’t see how coaching can be successful.

Below are some of the key features of transformational coaching with some examples. Names have been changed to protect the innocent!

What are the key features of transformational coaching?

Inner exploration

Transformational coaching encourages individuals to explore their inner thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. This self-awareness helps clients understand the underlying factors that may be limiting their potential or causing challenges.

Example: Sarah, a software engineer, decided to undergo transformational coaching. Through introspective sessions, she uncovered that her fear of failure stemmed from childhood experiences. This self-awareness helped her understand why she hesitated to take risks in her career. With the coach's guidance, she navigated her past to reshape her future mindset and confidently pursued challenging projects.

Shift in perspective

The coaching process aims to challenge and expand an individual's perspective. This can involve questioning assumptions, exploring alternative viewpoints, and reframing situations to promote personal growth.

Example: Jason, a marketing manager, was struggling to engage his team creatively. Through transformational coaching discussions, he began viewing his team's dynamics as a jazz ensemble. He started encouraging improvisation, and suddenly, team meetings turned into jam sessions of ideas, leading to innovative campaigns.

Mindset and belief change

Transformational coaching helps clients identify and transform limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns. By replacing these with more empowering beliefs, individuals can create a more positive and constructive mindset.

Example: Emily, an aspiring entrepreneur, held the limiting belief that success was reserved for others. Her transformational coach challenged this belief, helping her recognise her unique strengths. By reframing her thoughts, Emily embraced her inner entrepreneur, launched her business, and saw it thrive.

Goal alignment

While transformational coaching focuses on holistic growth, it also involves setting and working towards specific goals that align with an individual's evolving values and aspirations.

Example: Alex, a financial analyst, felt stuck in his career. With transformational coaching, he aligned his goals with his passion for environmental sustainability. He transitioned to a role that allowed him to merge his financial skills with his love for eco-conscious initiatives, finding renewed purpose and fulfilment.

Emotional intelligence

Clients learn to develop their emotional intelligence, which involves understanding and managing their own emotions and empathising with the emotions of others. This skill is crucial for personal and professional success.

Example: Maya, a sales manager, struggled with team dynamics. Through coaching, she learned to recognise and manage her emotions, becoming more empathetic. By understanding her team members' feelings, she transformed the work environment, boosting morale and ultimately increasing sales.


Transformational coaching aims to empower individuals to take ownership of their lives and make choices that align with their authentic selves. Clients are encouraged to take responsibility for their decisions and actions.

Example: David, a recent college graduate, was unsure of his career direction. Transformational coaching empowered him to take charge. He explored his interests, recognised his potential, and chose a career path aligned with his passion for social justice, feeling empowered to make a meaningful impact.

Sustained change

Unlike quick fixes or temporary changes, transformational coaching aims for lasting and sustainable transformation. Clients develop skills and strategies that they can continue to use long after the coaching engagement ends.

Example: Tina, a fitness enthusiast, worked with a transformational coach to improve her health. Beyond just losing weight, she developed lasting habits such as regular exercise and balanced nutrition. Years later, Tina still enjoys an active lifestyle and maintains her healthy choices.

Holistic approach

Transformational coaching considers various aspects of an individual's life, including career, relationships, health, and personal development. The goal is to create a sense of balance and fulfilment.

Example: Mark, a busy executive, sought transformational coaching due to work-life imbalance. His coach helped him craft a holistic plan. Mark redesigned his schedule to include family time, pursued hobbies, and engaged in self-care. The result was a more balanced and fulfilling life.

So, there you go. Transformational coaching (or, in my language, simply great coaching) concentrates on deep and lasting personal change.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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