Transactional Analysis

Transactional Analysis (TA) is a set of theories of human behaviour and interactions, developed in the late 1950s by Dr Eric Berne. TA analyses transactions, relationships and communication between people. This allows us to gain insight into what makes an individual work, why they act and react in the way that they do and how their past affects their present. In this way TA is not unlike Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), although, unlike CBT, TA also deals with an individual’s emotions.

Through TA the ‘games’ that people play, the ritualistic transactions or behaviour patterns between individuals that can indicate hidden feelings or emotions, can be assessed and where necessary, addressed. When interacting with others we may take on the role, subconsciously, of certain 'ego states', those of a parent, an adult or a child. Very simply, when we use a 'parent' ego state, we are modelling our parents or other parental figures. In an adult state, we act responsibly and realistically. In the 'child' state, we act like in the emotional state of children. Behaviours and relationships are obviously not as simple as this, but it is easy to see how we can slip into one of these roles, particularly in relationships. Many of us can also recognise one of these ego states in the behaviours of others.

Transactional Analysis is underpinned by the philosophy that, firstly, people can change and, secondly, we all have a right to be in the world and to be accepted.

In Transactional Analysis we call compliments and general ways of giving recognition 'strokes'. However, we often develop a subconscious 'stroke filter' that allows us to either accept or reject certain strokes. For example, if we have always been told we are clever, and our sister is pretty, then we are likely to accept strokes for being clever, but not for being pretty. From this frame of reference only one person in the family can be the pretty one and so on.

Another important theory in TA is that we all form, in our early years of development, a script that maps out what is going to happen to us for the rest of our lives. The decisions we make as young children, about ourselves and the world, influence the decisions we make as adults. For example, Sarah’s mother had been married three times, each relationship ending in divorce. Each successive partner had been an alcoholic. Not surprisingly, Sarah grew up believing that all men were valueless, alcohol was bad and she would never get married because there weren't any men worth marrying.

Transactional Analysis is particularly useful in relationship counselling, coaching & education and is a powerful tool in enabling change, allowing both individuals and couples to reach their full potential.



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