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The constructs and application of Van Schoor's model for transformation for career transition counselling.

The rapid change in the world of work has resulted in general uncertainty of employment in the 21st century. A large number of people are in career transition as a result of retrenchments after mergers, acquisitions, reengineering, downsizing and cost-cutting aimed at being competitive in a world market (Greenhause, Callanan & Goodshalk 2002; Schreuder & Coetzee 2006). Van Schoor developed a model for transformation as an innovative theoretical framework to assist individuals during the transformation that is taking place in organisations and also applies the model to career transition counselling (2000, 200 a, 200 b, 2002, 2003, 2004a, 2004b, 2004c, 2005). The purpose of this article is to present the constructs of the model and show how it can be applied to career transision counseling.


The ultimate purpose of the model for transformation is the development of self-efficacy in dealing with life in general and with change or transition, in particular in order to provide a blueprint for a life of self-fulfilment. Adaptation to transition is made possible through what Van Schoor calls transformational intelligence (TQ). The development of TQ forms the core strategy of his intervention to facilitate cognitive restructuring and adaptation through transformation. Van Schoor (2005) argues that the individual has to change his or her worldview from a deterministic one to a postmodern one, where the individual can take control, organise and manipulate the environment. Such thinking focuses strongly on cognitive restructuring in order to transform the individual's perspective of transition. He illustrates his model in the form of a series of triangles that represent an individual interacting with the changing environment (2004c). The triangles are layered and represent the cosmos from the environment as the outer layer to the individual as the inner layer.

During the evolution of the model, Van Schoor uses aspects of the chaos and complexity theory to explain the cosmos as a holistic system and the world as a social system, which is constantly in a state of non-equilibrium as it reinvents itself to adapt to the constant changing environment in an effort to restore equilibrium. Career transition, seen from this perspective, is based on the principles of quantum mechanics, which Van Schoor (2005) applies in order to understand human behaviour during transition. The first principle is that of interconnectedness, which suggests that change in one part of the system, or in this case, one component of a layer, will affect other parts or systems to which it is connected. The second principle postulates that systems are in a constant state of growth and decline. The inflow of information from the environment prompts the individual to assess the changes and this results in a state of non-equilibrium, which forces the individual to acquire competencies to adapt and survive and the system to change and grow (Nel, 2006; Van Schoor, 2005). The last principle is that mind and not matter rules supreme in the universe. People have personal histories made up of events, experiences and influences, which have programmed their minds to see the world through a personal perspective in a certain way. These personal histories might be an obstacle to transformation and need to be confronted by the individual in transition. Chaos theory, in general, emphasises the dynamics of process, which implies an emphasis on systems that are in a continual state of flux with decline and growth stages (Bass, 1999; Nel, 2006). The layers of the model for transformation are represented in the illustration in Figure 1.


The outer layer of the triangle represents the external environment, consisting of the human world (i.e., people, groups, organisations and nations), the non-human world (i.e., trees, animals, mountains and buildings) and the spiritual world (i.e., values or the meaning of life and religious beliefs). The external environment is constantly changing and sending a stream of information to the individual.

The second layer represents the individual's processing of the stream of information from the environment. The mind is the key factor that interprets the environmental messages, determines the meaning of it whereafter physical and emotional reactions are triggered. Physical reactions during career transition include physical symptoms, such as heart palpitations, insomnia, indigestion and gastric ulcers. Emotional reactions during career transition include reactions that will stem from loss--such as a loss of identity or control; financial insecurity; disconnectedness from emotions or spirituality; fear or anxiety--which can be compared to the emotional responses during the stages of grief (Williams, 1999). The individual responds in one of two ways: either by using his or her TQ to deal with the environmental pressures and survive; or by succumbing to the transition-induced pressures (Van Schoor, 2004).

The third layer represents the potential locked up in each individual to motivate the self and find direction, to use creativity and thinking processes to respond appropriately to pressure by managing it, while using the strength of relations between individuals and the individual in the world, inter alia, with all the subsystems of the universe. The third layer elements are called motivational intelligence (MQ), creative intelligence (CQ) and process intelligence (PQ). These three elements form the 'hard skills', which are the psychological and intellectual resources the individual needs to manage change and transition. Van Schoor reasons that there is potential residing in each individual to transform, and thus the raison d etre for the facilitation of transformation through TQ development. The fourth layer, relational intelligence (RQ), is the emotional life space of the person that relates to nature, society and spirit (Van Schoor 2003 2004c). The third and fourth layers make up transformational intelligence (TQ).


Van Schoor's model of transformation covers all the essential aspects counsellors need to take into consideration when assisting individuals through transition. These aspects include characteristics of transition, transition-induced stress, simultaneous life stress, responses, social support, psychological resources and spiritual connectedness (Williams, 2001).

The client and career counsellor should firstly understand the dynamics of the changing world, the human-related changes, environmental changes and the accompanying moral changes, in order to be pro-active and reactive in their management of transition. Secondly, the client and counsellor should identify the stress-induced responses in order to design an intervention strategy that promotes TQ to facilitate transition. Thirdly, the client should identify the capacity residing in him or herself to transform. Motivation is the first important capacity because at this stage the clients can choose to react in a transformational intelligent way by invoking their capacity to transform or to succumb to the transition-induced stressors. Creative capacity/intelligence (CQ) needs to be identified as well as process and project knowledge and skills (PQ). Fourthly, the client should identify his or her relational intelligence (RQ), which is the core of TQ. Van Schoor (2005) summarises the dimensions of RQ as:

(1) the formation of a relationship with the self, with

(a) self-acceptance; and

(b) self-esteem as the core; and

(2) the formation of a relationship with support systems, including

(a) relationship with a higher being or a set of values that provide meaning for individual existence;

(b) relationship with the human world that is, significant others, such as family, colleagues, friends and mentors; and

(c) relationship with the non-human natural environment, such as nature and the built environment.

The whole process of becoming aware, engaging and managing career transition dictates constructivist approaches, where clients engage to construct, deconstruct and co-construct through the facilitative engagement of the counsellor. The constructivist counsellor will allow for 'unconscious processes, considering past development, and exploring the relationships of thinking, feeling and doing in the past, present, and future' (Okun, 2002, p. 48).

Van Schoor (2004c) uses narratives to counsel for career transition. The first is the story of the past and that can be constructed and deconstructed while the individual looks from the outside in, unfolding the events and happenings of the past as presented by the first two layers. The story focuses on the exploration of the environment and the significant events and voices that played a role in the mental programming, with the consequent emotional and physical reactions. Postmodern counselling techniques within the constructivist paradigm, such as interviews, life lines, time lines, collages and narrative essays are used. The story of the past is followed with the story of the present, which deals with the RQ, the inner layer. Firstly, the self is investigated with regard to self-esteem and self-directedness and secondly, the support systems are investigated. Objective psychometric tests can be introduced to shed light on the personality profile to help the client to gain insight into uncertainties about understanding the self.

Insight gained through the scripting of the past and present and reflecting on it are now being used to write the story of the future. During this phase the third layer skills are implemented to do future planning. Motivational intelligence (MQ) is used to set goals formulated against the background of the analysis of the environment (first layer) and the response to transition (second layer) and personal values and support (fourth layer). Thereafter it proceeds to the execution of creative plans using creative intelligence (CQ) and project knowledge (PQ), namely process analysis and project management. The client can use the counsellor as one of the support systems to co-construct the script (Van Schoor, 2004c).


This article is a presentation of the core constructs of Van Schoor's model for transformation. The constructs unfold logically and provide a framework for implementation from a holistic view and a postmodern approach. The model is still a work in progress but has already made a contribution to transition psychology in practice in South Africa where it has been implemented. The model will hopefully stimulate research into the foundation and constructs and comparison with other transition theories.


Bass, T. A. (1999). The predictors: How a band of maverick physicists used chaos theory to trade their way to the fortune on Wall Street. New York: Henry Holt.

Greenhause, J. H., Callanan, G. A. & Goodshalk, V. M. (2002). Career management (3rd ed.). New York: Dryden Press, Harcourt College Publishers.

Nel, Z. (2006). Chaos theory. In Stead, G. B., & Watson, M. B. (Eds.) Career psychology in the South African context (pp. 170-180). Pretoria, South Africa: Van Schaik.

Okun, B. F. (2002). Effective helping. London: Brooks/Cole Schreuder, A. M. G., & Coetzee, M. (2006). Career: An organisational perspective (3rd Ed.). Landsdowne, Cape Town, South Africa: Juta.

Van Schoor, W. A. (2000, September). Transformational intelligence: a vital ingredient for the transforming workplace. Paper presented at the 20th Annual Conference of the Society for Student Counselling in Southern Africa, Durban, South Africa.

Van Schoor, W. A. (200 a, September). The assessment of transformational intelligence: an exploratory investigation. Paper presented at the 21st Annual Conference of the Society for Student Counselling in Southern Africa, Cape Town, South Africa.

Van Schoor, W. A. (200 b, March). Transformational intellect: the key to coping in the 21st century. Paper presented at the 20th World Conference of the ICDC, Dusseldorf, Germany.

Van Schoor, W. A. (2002, September). Appreciating diversity through the development of relational intelligence (RQ). Paper presented at the 22nd Annual Conference of the Society for Student Counselling in Southern Africa, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Van Schoor, W. A. (2003, July). Learning to overcome resistance to change in Higher Education: the role of transformational intelligence in the process. Paper presented at the Annual International Conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Van Schoor, W. A. (2004a). Career management in the 21st Century. Training manual for student leaders. Pretoria, South Africa: UNISA BSSCD

Van Schoor, W. A. (2004b). Ukudoba Personal Transformation Programme. Instructional Development Workshop. Pretoria, South Africa: UNISA

Van Schoor, W. A. (2004c, September). The transformational intelligence approach to managing the protean career: preparing for the 21st century world of work. Paper delivered at the Annual Conference of the Society for Student Counselling in Southern Africa, Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Van Schoor, W. A. (2005). A narrative approach to the facilitation of change in merging institutions. International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, 5(5), 39-48.

Williams, D. (1999) Human responses to change. Retrieved October 8, 2006, from

Williams, D. (2001). Life events and career change: transition psychology in practice. Retrieved October 8, 2006, from

DR LITHA BEEKMAN works in the Department of Educational Psychology in the Faculty of Education at South Africa's university of Johannesburg.


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Title Annotation:CAREERS FORUM
Author:Beekman, Litha
Publication:Australian Journal of Career Development
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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