Transactional Analysis, also known as TA, was founded by Eric Berne, who developed concepts, language and methods for understanding the process of human behaviours.
The most well known concept from TA is the ego-state model. An ego-state is a collection of related behaviours, thoughts and feelings.
One of the many ego states can be triggered by a situation in our life, e.g. a friend comes for dinner and accidentally drops a wine glass. We can respond in a number of ways to that incident of course, e.g.
Adult ego state: rational thinking, and a practical reaction to the incident.
Parent ego states: behave in a way that reminds us of our own parents’ behaviour (i) a critical parent might say “you stupid man, why can’t you be more careful?” or (ii) a nurturing parent might say, “gosh, are you ok? did you cut yourself?”.
Child ego states: respond in a way that a small child would, (i) Adapted child, whereby the behaviour is an extreme reaction to something quite trivial, e.g. having a trantrum about the prized glass, and (ii) Free child, a playful approach to the incident, e.g. you get two straws so that you and your guest can drink up the spilt wine from the table.
At times we might think, feel or behave in any of these ego states, even moving from to another and back again. The direction of movement depends on the level of self awareness a client has of their own internal models of behaviour. For example, if their old pattern is to react in a critical way they can begin to learn that their nurturing self, or adult self, is the best ego model to remedy the situation rather than inflate it.
The short-longer term aim of the therapy is for the client to become more and more aware of their predominant roles and that in time they begin to make choices in particular ego states, that support the relationship with one’s self and others, and give less attention to the more destructive choices.
One way of doing this is to discover a client’s Life Script. The belief is that our life script contains all that we believe about ourselves and the world around us. From the earliest period of childhood we receive very precise instructions about what we can do and what we can’t, which often becomes the “script” for our lives, e.g. 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. The role of the TA therapist is to help their client to identify their script beliefs and, if necessary, work on ways to modify them.
Transactional Analyis is ideal for clients who want to explore how their individual personality has been shaped by their experiences.
It can also help improve communication techniques and change damaging repetitive patterns of behaviour. Both elements will help clients to build healthier and stronger relationships. It is also an ideal technique to resolve conflict, confusion and tension within relationships – with family, partners, friends, colleagues and bosses .
Transactional Analysis was always traditionally offered as a long-term therapy but nowadays is used as a short-term treatment, which could appeal to those who want a solution-focused therapy.
If you are interested in this approach to therapy please call our resident counsellor, Paul on 910 665 601.
He offers a free telephone consultation to establish what it is you want to work on and will recommend a course of action that supports your current needs.