Transactional Analysis (TA) was first developed in the 1960s by Eric Berne MD as a theory of human behaviour, personality and communication. Seeking a more effective way to treat his patients, Berne combined the best principles of psychoanalysis with ideas from behaviourism, humanistic psychology and the brain research of the time. TA is now a widely respected psychological approach and has applications in many sectors, including Counselling and Psychotherapy, Education, Business/Management and Medicine.
Professionals who practise this form of therapy make use of a broad range of tools that have associations in other psychological modalities such as Psychodynamic, Cognitive Behavioural, Relational and Person-Centred therapies. As such, TA has a level of flexibility that makes it a highly effective method of articulating a number of potential directions for any therapeutic work.
Rather than focusing on pathologies, TA focuses on the client’s strengths in order to help them move out of places where they feel stuck when experiencing a crisis in their lives. The therapist does not assume that the ‘counselling relationship’ in itself will bring about all desired changes, but uses effective models to develop an analysis of the client’s problems and agree a contract for changes he or she will make, reclaiming their own autonomy.
The beauty of TA is in its depth as well as in its use of easily understandable language. As you can see below, TA concepts are very accessible; people can immediately relate to them, while the work within the consulting room is done at a deep level to promote significant and lasting changes.
relate to the three distinct internal components of our personalities: the Parent, the Adult and the Child ego states. Each of these is an entire system of thoughts, feelings and behaviours from which we interact with ourselves, with life situations and with other people. This model is very helpful in understanding and strengthening our inner resources when dealing with difficulties and improving the way we relate to others and to ourselves.
refer to verbal or non-verbal communication exchanges between people, where one ego state of a person sends a message to an ego state of another person. Being aware of the way we transact with others is an invaluable tool for better managing relationships and improving the way we experience the world.
refer to verbal or non-verbal, positive or negative acknowledgments we give and receive from others. Being accounted for through a greeting, a compliment or a touch on the shoulder is as crucial for our well-being as it is for babies to be physically held, fed and spoken to. However, sometimes in our adult lives we become stroke-deprived or struggle with unhealthy ways of being seen, of getting nourishment and obtaining the attention or affection we need. Identifying our stroke patterns helps us get our needs met and improve our interpersonal relations.
Refers to an internal mechanism which involves a person minimising or ignoring some aspect of himself, of others or the situation they are going through. Out of awareness we might be discounting our abilities, our problems or the options we have available. This is not an effective way of problem-solving and developing. By getting the way we discount challenged we improve our chances of being satisfied and leading a fulfilling life.
refers to an unconscious life plan based on early decisions made in childhood, in an attempt to deal with feelings that were not appropriately responded to. Out of awareness, when we are “in script” we continue to re-play childhood strategies, even when this results in pain or defeat. TA therapists help clients become aware of self-limiting patterns and update their core beliefs. This enables people to be more present, better respond to situations in the here-and-now and ultimately become happier.
A person’s outlook on life has a profound effect on the way their world is construed and their life is lived. How I see myself and others and the way I perceive others to see me – positively or negatively – affect my every-day interactions. “I’m ok, you’re ok” is the healthiest position on life and it means that I feel good about myself and that I appreciate others and their competence. This does not necessarily imply approval of the other person’s behaviour or of all aspects of oneself. It is about unconditional acceptance and valuing of oneself and others, leading to ways of thinking, feeling and behaving which promote psychological health and well-being.
refers to an agreement entered into by both client and therapist to pursue specific changes that the client desires. The practice of contracting stresses the importance of openness, clear communication and mutual respect. It is based on the TA principle that we are all capable of deciding for ourselves what it is that we want for our own lives. This involves the therapist making frequent checks that he and the client are travelling together in an agreed direction.
If you feel that you would benefit from talking confidentially about any concerns you might be experiencing, whatever they might be, please contact me for more information or to book a free initial consultation.