Transactional Analysis is a set of theories of human behaviour and interactions, begun in the late 1950s by Dr Eric Berne. Basically, TA does what it says on the tin: it analyses transactions between people. By doing this, we gain insight into what makes an individual tick, why he/she acts and reacts in the ways he/she does and how his/her past affects his/her present. TA, in that sense, is not unlike Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, although, unlike CBT, TA also deals with the client's emotions. According to Dr. Berne, we all play games - are ritualistic transactions or behaviour patterns between individuals that can indicate hidden feelings or emotions. During these ‘games’ 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. As an adult state, we act responsibly and realistically. Whilst, when we are in the ‘child’ state, we will act like we did as children, tantrums and all! Of course, things are not as simple as this, but readers will probably see how easily we can slip into one of these roles, particularly in relationships.
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 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, Rachel’s mother had been married three times, each relationship ending in divorce. Each successive partner had been an alcoholic. Not surprisingly, Rachel grew up believing that all men were worthless, alcohol was eveil, 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.