Change your life and career

What is Transformational Coaching?

By Mary Andrews

I work at a transformational level rather than a transactional level to achieve change.

To illustrate the difference, let me explain what I don’t do.

Transactional or surface level coaching focuses on a specific problem and how to overcome it. For example, if someone has problems with being assertive during meetings, a transactional form of coaching may put together plans and goals for achieving greater assertiveness in meetings. This could include making eye contact, practising different forms of signalling, breathing, putting things in writing to the chair so that we are specifically asked to speak, and so on.

Transformational coaching allows us to explore the problem more deeply. We’ll seek to understand more about ‘the problem’

  • when it started
  • how significant others behave(d)
  • if some situations/people are easier to deal with than others
  • what thoughts you have in situations where you need to be assertive
  • how you feel
  • what happens in your body
  • how you see yourself in relation to others
  • your identity, and so on.


In essence, transformational coaching allows us to focus on you as a person and the wider context of the issue rather than on your issue only. We’ll work holistically exploring your thinking, your feelings and emotions, and how you relate and interact with people in your life and career. 

We’ll also consider your environment, culture, context, social factors, your history and growing up story. Some may be more relevant than others to the issues in the here-and-now but all fit into your story.

The value of this approach is that it allows you to become more aware of how you perceive things and what triggers particular feelings, thoughts and behaviours. 

By increasing awareness, and taking a helicopter view, we can then focus and make small changes that help you achieve long-term and sustainable change, creating competence and resilience for life’s issues and struggles.

How we change and how we stay the same are exactly the same process

We have habitual ways of behaving. These are our natural and normal, comfortable reactions to everything – they reflect the kind of person we are: our commitments, values, reactions, the people in our lives and our belongings.

The way we are influences what we notice and pay attention to. We are selective in what we notice (however much we deny it or are unaware of it) and because we pay attention to certain things we therefore act in certain ways and engage in certain practices.

And so the cycle continues.

To intervene and enable change is not therefore simply a matter of making up our mind to change. Instead, we start with noticing, observing and becoming more self-aware. Then we can engage in new actions, practices and behaviours.

It is the doing, the taking action that brings change about.

With coaching, we will assess your current reality and your behaviours.  And then we can establish your intended outcomes, and the behaviours that will support you in achieving these.

Then we will discuss the path toward achieving change. This will be done by opening up more possibilities through practice – a behaviour done again and again. 

Your commitment to the process

Transformational coaching requires you to be an active participant, to self-observe and self-reflect so that you can learn, increase your awareness and assess how you are performing.

It will also require you to bring a willingness to engage in different activities – all discussed and designed to support your increased competence and to facilitate change.

The more you put in, the more you will get out.

Mary Andrews Portrait

Mary Andrews, MSc, IDC, MBPsS, PMABP, AssocISFCP is a qualified coach and career analyst.

With a background in HR and psychology, since 2011 she has been helping professionals and students find direction and thrive in their careers and life.

Make changes that stick. If you want to move from feeling unhappy and dissatisfied to content and fulfilled, contact me for a free without obligation conversation.