Umberto CrisantiCBT, Counselling and Psychotherapy in Canterbury

Transactional Analysis (TA)

Transactional Analysis is often referred to as an integrative psychotherapy because incorporates elements of other types of therapy, including:

- Psychodynamic psychotherapy
- Humanistic psychotherapy
- Integrative psychotherapy
- Psychoanalytical psychotherapy

TA is not only post-Freudian, but, according to its founder's wishes, consciously extra-Freudian. That is to say that, while it has its roots in psychoanalysis, since Berne was a psychoanalytically-trained psychiatrist, it was designed as a dissenting branch of psychoanalysis in that it put its emphasis on transactional rather than "psycho" analysis.

What are the Core Principles of TA?

Ego-states: This is a big part of transactional analysis, and it refers to the three main parts of your personality that each contains their own system of thoughts and behaviours. When taken together, they are believed to determine how we relate to others. They are:

Child ego-state: Behaviours, thoughts, and feelings replayed from one’s childhood
Adult ego-state: Behaviours, thoughts and feelings in response to current situations
Parent ego-state:Behaviours, thoughts, and feelings copied from parents

Transactions:The aforementioned ego-states interact in order to create our transactions. When our ego-states do not work well together, they can create a distorted view of our life and the world. Understanding the difference between straightforward, mixed-up, and ulterior transactions is a helpful way to clarify and resolve conflicts.

Unconscious scripts:These are repetitive patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviours that can often be traced to the prohibitions and permissions placed on us as children. Because they operate out of awareness, when they are negative, they contribute significantly to frustration and unhappiness. As these are brought to light in the process of the therapy, ways to change negative patterns into positive ones can be devised, bringing relief and increased confidence.

Games
In our interactions with people around us, we often fall into common patterns of behaviour, or games, that we play and re-play.

For example (extract from: Crisanti, 2021): some parents may have in mind some expectations about how their grown child should ‘turn out’. Let’s suppose some well-meaning parents expect their child to be happy studying dentistry. Let’s hypothesise that this young man is still groping for direction, and in the interim is trapped studying something he doesn’t feel to be his vocation. Now let’s imagine that he feels a debt of gratitude to his parents for encouraging him to do well, or perhaps senses a real financial debt, as his parents have indeed financed his studies. Many are brought up in families where jobs are expected to be undertaken from generation to generation, adding another layer of expectation. Let’s suppose our budding dentist doesn’t have a stable attachment to his well-meaning parents, who present a judgmental attitude. Perhaps his parents continuously put him down, or compare him unfavourably to others: “Why can’t you be more focused?” “All your friends know what they want and they go for it.”. It is easy to imagine our dentistry student feeling anxious about meeting these expectations, or perhaps depressed if he fears failing an exam. As grown children may consciously or subconsciously know these mechanisms rehearsed since early childhood, achieving may be the only way to maintain (getting strokes) their relationship with their demanding parents, society, culture, religion etc. Another possibility may be to avoid playing this game altogether, and replace it with another game, for example: “I have depression”, “I am ill”, if “I weren’t ill, then I would be a good student and I would attend all my lectures”.
TA in popular culture

-When Will Hunting from the movie Good Will Hunting is being choked by Sean Maguire, you can see the spine of the book I'm OK, You're OK in the bookcase that Will is being pinned against
-Singer-songwriter Joe South's 1968 song, "Games People Play", was based directly on transactional-analytic concepts and Berne's book of the same name.

Transactional Analysis . Games

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