What is transactional analysis (TA)?

Transactional analysis, commonly known as TA, was founded by Eric Berne, who sought to demystify psychotherapy and who developed concepts, language and methods understandable to all. It is an integrative approach drawing upon psychoanalytic, humanist and cognitive approaches. 

The best-known TA concept is the ego-state model. An ego-state is a set of related behaviours, thoughts and feelings. If, for example, we have rationally in response to a situation, we are said to be in the adult ego-state. If, instead we behave in a way that reminds of us our parents' behaviour, we are said to be in our parent ego-state. At times we might think, feel or behave as we were as children. This indicates that we might be in our child ego-state.

These parts converse with one another in 'transactions' and, within each social interaction, one self predominates. Therefore by recognising these roles, the client can choose which part to adopt and so adjust their behaviour. 

In TA, clients have a Life Script, a way of understanding their beliefs about themselves and the world around them. TA therapists want to identify these script beliefs and, if necessary, work with the client to modify them.


Who benefits from transactional analysis?

Anyone who wants to explore how their individual personality has been shaped by their experiences could benefit from transactional analysis. Transactional analysis can help a person improve their communication techniques and break damaging repetitive patterns of behaviour, thus helping them to forge better relationships. Transactional analysis can effectively resolve conflict, confusion and tension within relationships - with family, friends, colleagues and partners. Transactional analysis, though also offered as a long-term therapy, is often used as a short-term treatment, which could appeal to those who want a solution-focused therapy.

These parts converse with one another in 'transactions' and, within each social interaction, one self predominates. Therefore by recognising these roles, the client can choose which part to adopt and so adjust their behaviour. 

Another well-known TA concept is script. Script theory says that in the first few years of life, we receive very precise instructions about what we can do and what we can't, which are the "script" for our lives. From as early as five or six, we see the world through the prism of our life script and ignore what doesn't fit the picture. This prevents us from seeing the variety of choices that life has to offer.


Who benefits from transactional analysis?

Anyone who wants to explore how their individual personality has been shaped by their experiences could benefit from transactional analysis. Transactional analysis can help a person improve their communication techniques and break damaging repetitive patterns of behaviour, thus helping them to forge better relationships. Transactional analysis can effectively resolve conflict, confusion and tension within relationships - with family, friends, colleagues and partners. Transactional analysis, though also offered as a long-term therapy, is often used as a short-term treatment, which could appeal to those who want a solution-focused therapy. It can be used for individuals, couples and organisational models.


Relevant associations

UKATA


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Last updated on September 1 2015