Are you struggling to achieve your fullest potential in different life situations? Do you want a positive personal change that helps you overcome your communication and relationship problems? These days, many people who see a counsellor or a therapist are likely to get transactional analysis psychotherapy as a way to address their concerns. That’s because it’s a highly accessible form of integrative psychotherapy.
A crucial part of modern psychology, transactional analysis is an entire system that helps encourage change and personal growth. Aside from sustaining a sense of well-being, it pushes individuals like you to unlock their full potential in all areas of their lives.
What is transactional analysis? (TA)
Transactional analysis is a kind of talking therapy or session that explores your personality and how different experiences shape it, especially those that stem from your childhood. The TA therapist achieves this through intelligent and skilful questioning and utilising various methodologies, tools and models.
It started in the late 1950s when psychotherapist Eric Berne developed the theory to understand how people interact with others, which he did by analysing their relationships.
Inspired by Sigmund Freud’s personality theories, Eric Berne believed that every person has three ego states. The core basis of the theory, these states can affect how a person reacts in different situations and life positions.
How is transactional analysis used in counselling?
Transactional analysis therapy is generally considered a brief yet solution-focused approach. But it can be effectively used as a long-term therapy. The sessions of transactional analysis psychotherapy can take place in one-on-one counselling sessions with couples or families or as group therapy.
Counsellors use skilful questioning and different techniques to understand how you relate to other people. As TA therapy is versatile, it’s useful in different areas, such as relationship issues, workplace attitude problems, or even conflict management.
Once you’ve selected a provider, you’ll need to schedule an initial consultation. During this session, you’ll discuss your goals for therapy and develop a treatment plan. You’ll also be able to ask any questions you have about the process. After your initial consultation, you’ll begin receiving regular therapy sessions from your provider. These sessions will usually last 50-60 minutes and can be conducted via phone or video. You’ll typically meet with your therapist once per week.
Your TA therapist provides a secure and non-judgmental atmosphere, ensuring to development of a positive relationship, which acts as a model for you to use in interactions outside therapy.
Your counsellor works collaboratively and closely with you within this setting to identify the things that have negatively impacted your communication and offer opportunities to help you transform your repetitive negative behavioural patterns limiting your potential.
As it employs simple language and models, it helps you understand and analyse your own personality and your relationship with others around you. It helps you recognise your own value and worth and accomplish your goals in life while improving your subsequent relationships.
Key concepts of transactional analysis
Eric Berne developed the transactional analysis theory as a response to Freudian therapy, which was a more traditional form of psychoanalysis. Hence, this therapeutic approach takes some cues from the psychodynamic approach, particularly the ego states. Other important key concepts, in theory, include unconscious scripts and strokes.
Eric Berne believed that ego states are systems of ‘feelings accompanied by a related set of behaviour patterns.’ The interactions within different ego states interact with each other to shape an individual’s behaviour and responses to situations.
Parent Ego State
The parent ego state includes feelings, thoughts, and behaviours that we learn from parental figures and caretakers, like our parents, older siblings, or teachers. For instance, how your parents reacted when you cried or how your teachers responded when you were naughty. For the most part, the ego state includes the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots.’
People enter this state when, in response to a situation, they act in a similar way as their parents did with them. So rather than analysing the situation as something different, the person copies their parents or other authority figures, such as how parents reacted while dealing with family issues.
This ego state is further divided into the nurturing parent and the critical parent.
The nurturing parent is concerned with looking after people and comforting them. Based on understanding, this part of the ego state attempts to make others feel good about themselves. People in the nurturing parent ego state encourage others and instil confidence in them.
Meanwhile, the critical parent ego state involves blaming the other person and giving unconstructive criticism. People in this ego state aren’t interested in an explanation, are highly judgmental, or verbally attack others. So instead of dealing with the situation, they criticise and reprimand harshly.
This ego state is further divided into the nurturing parent and the critical parent.
Adult Ego State
The adult ego state represents how developmentally mature a person is. People who often feel, think, and behave in this ego state are logical and rational when contacting reality. They do this by collecting and analysing information in a given situation and making an informed decision.
Just like a computer, the adult state deals with facts as opposed to emotions. Its main goal is to integrate the three states while acting in the most rational manner. Hence, the adult state focuses on thinking before acting or speaking.
Child Ego State
The child state is where emotional responses stem from. A person experiencing the child ego state feels the same emotions he/she felt when encountering a similar situation as a child. Consequently, they interpret the current experience the same way they did when they were younger. Thus, their childhood experiences impact their current behaviours.
This child ego state is divided into the free and adapted child. The free child is naturally curious and expresses itself spontaneously. In this state are innate behaviours concerning primal urges. The adapted child develops when the person changes their behaviours and feelings in response to the world around them. In this state are learned feelings such as envy, guilt, and anxiety.
The parent adult, and child ego states can program people to respond to situations based on commonly recognised repetitive patterns or unconscious scripts that arise from teachings during childhood. Also called ‘life scripts,’ they are reinforced by the individual’s interactions with caretakers and other adults as when they were a child.
Transactional analysis therapists use script theory to identify a client’s life scripts, which are then analysed using the ego state model. Once clients realise these scripts, they understand how certain prohibitions and permissions they received as children influence their lives today. The goal of a therapist is to alter the client’s life script, so they learn new ways to deal with situations.
In transactional analysis, the different ways we come into contact with others are strokes. Described by Berne as a ‘unit of recognition,’ it involves acknowledging a person or being acknowledged through speech or action. These can be negative or positive. Positive strokes include actions like hugs, support, and care. Meanwhile, negative strokes include being rude or frowning.
When different ego states interact, they result in different combinations of transactions, including complementary transactions, ulterior transactions and crossed transactions. Here is an example of how three ego states can interact:
Is Transactional Analysis Therapy Right For You?
Unlike other forms of psychotherapy, transactional analysis has a variety of applications in different life positions. The following questions can help you understand whether transactional analysis psychotherapy is right for you.
Are you having trouble maintaining healthy relationships?
Transactional analysis therapy is highly focused on how you relate with people, whether it’s your partner, parent, or someone at work. If you’re unable to have a productive conversation with people without letting emotions get in the way, a TA therapist can help you.
Do you fail to interact with people consistently?
One of the major issues people face is that they can’t seem to behave consistently with people. Working with transactional analysts helps build an understanding of why you interact differently with others, including non-verbal communication like body language and facial expressions. This paves the way for effective, fruitful communication on a regular basis.
Do you want to be a better communicator?
Because it’s a talking therapy, transactional analysis is an effective method to work on your communication. TA therapists will work with you to ensure that you clearly express yourself without negatively impacting relationships. Thus, making you a better communicator.
Do you prefer present-focused therapy?
Compared to other forms of psychotherapy that focus on the past to build insight, therapists can use this relatively new and effective method of transactional analysis as a brief approach focusing on the present to improve future interactions.
Call us now for help
What is Transactional Analysis used to treat?
Transactional analysis is useful for addressing issues related to the following:
In clinical applications, transactional analysis can effectively alleviate anxiety, low mood, panic disorders and much more.
Benefits of transactional analysis
The transactional analysis offers several benefits, including the following:
Develops Self Awareness
Through transactional analysis, you can develop insight into your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, learning things about yourself that you didn’t know before. It unveils your unexplored potential and opportunities.
Easy To Understand
Eric Berne developed the theory to be easy to understand. It employs simple models and language. Hence, it has straightforward concepts, so even if you don’t have much knowledge of psychotherapy, you can comprehend transactional analysis and implement it to improve your personality and well-being.
A major benefit of using transactional analysis therapy is that by improving communication, it effectively alleviates conflicts. And even in the event of a disagreement, people who undergo TA therapy can analyse the situation and focus on solutions.
Applies To Different Social Contexts
Unlike some forms of therapy, such as the behavioural approach, transactional analysis is integrative psychotherapy useful in various social contexts. This makes it applicable to various relationships, such as romantic partners, family members, work colleagues, and others.
Who Can Benefit from Transactional Analysis?
The primary goal of transactional analysis is to strengthen your adult state to help you achieve and maintain autonomy. So it is an effective way to enhance your relationship with yourself and others around you. If you are facing problems in personal growth, communication, relationships and emotional issues, you can consider taking this therapy.
Additionally, transactional analysis is also useful in clinical settings. For instance, people with BPD can benefit from transactional analysis as it works on their boundaries and helps them maintain consistent interactions with the people closest to them. Similarly, transactional analysis can help people looking to relieve anxious and depressive symptoms.
Potential Outcomes of TA therapy
The primary goal of transactional analysis is to strengthen the client’s adult ego state. This can lead to a number of potential outcomes. For instance, when used with couples, it helps reduce the rate of marital burnout. When applied in school settings, TA therapy can improve students’ self-esteem. Research also shows that it can help enhance teachers’ interactions with students.
Moreover, it can help clients manage their emotions so they can react to situations logically.
Question & Answers
Transactional Analysis - FAQ
Is online counselling the same as therapy?
Everything is built around the relationship you have with the therapist, whether it is online or in person, there are some slight differences in body position etc but nothing noticeable, over time technology has evolved and we don’t notice any difference in our results.
Is transactional analysis part of psychodynamic theory?
Since Eric Berne was inspired by Freud's work when developing the transactional analysis theory, it has its origins in the psychodynamic branch of therapies. However, it also incorporates aspects of cognitive-behavioural and humanistic psychology.
Does transactional analysis work?
Studies show that transactional analysis is an effective means to help address issues of self-esteem, social interactions, communication, and relationship management.
What are the long-term outcomes of TA therapy?
How does online counselling work?
It's a simple process of assessment, then booking in your sessions and getting going, we pick a new meeting time for the following week each session, and start off on the journey to see what we uncover.