Transactional Analysis

Major Theorist
Eric Berne
Ego states - PAC
Parent, Adult, Child
View of Human Nature/Personality
is an optimistic theory, it assumes that people can change despite any unfortunate events of the past
proposing that people have choices in their lives and that what was once decided can be re-decided at a later state
Transactional analysis is a
rational approach to understanding behavior and is based on the assumption that all individuals can learn to trust themselves, think for themselves, make their own decisions, and express their feelings
TA focuses on four major methods
Structural analysis, transactional analysis, game analysis, script analysis
Structural analysis
understanding what is happening within the individual
Transactional analysis
describing what between two or more people
Game analysis
understanding transactions that lead to bad feelings
Script analysis
understanding an individuals life plan
In structural analysis each person is considered to have three functional ego states
child, parent, and adult
Ego State
a consistent pattern of feeling and experience directly related to a corresponding consistent pattern of behavior
First to develop is the
child ego
Child ego has two subdivisions
natural/free, and adaptive
Natural child
is the part of the person that is spontaneous, impulsive, feeling oriented, and often self-centered and pleasure loving. Also intuitive, creative, and responsive to nonverbal messages.
Adaptive child
is the compliant part of the personality that conforms to the wishes and demands of parental figures.
Adaptions of natural impulses occur in response to
traumas, natural life experiences, and training
Parent ego state
incorporates the attitudes and behaviors of parental figures. That is the dos, shoulds, and oughts
Parent ego state consists of two subdivisions
critical parent and nurturing parent
Critical parent
the part that finds fault, displays prejudices, and prevents others from feelings good about themselves
Nurturing parent
is the part that comforts, praises, and aids others
The adult ego state is not
subdivided or related to a person's age. It is the objective, thinking, data-gathering part of a person.
A major focus of TA is
determining which ego state/states a person is using
The theory stresses the importance of
being able to balance responses when necessary and appropriate
a way assessing the ego state/states a person is using
Transactions may occur on one of three levels:
complimentary, crossed, ulterior
Complimentary transactions
both persons are operating from either the same ego state or from complimentary ego states. In such cases, responses are predictable and appropriate.
Crossed Transaction
an inappropriate ego state is activated, producing an expected response
Ulterior transaction
one in which two ego states operate simultaneously and one message disguises the other
Ulterior transactions appear to be
complementary and socially acceptable even though they are not
are ulteriorly motivated transactions that appear complementary on the surface but end in bad feelings
Games confirm and reinforce
script decisions
People play games to
structure time, achieve recognition, make others predictable, and prevent intimacy
Games people safe from
exposing their thoughts and feelings
Games come in three degrees
first, second, and third degrees
First-degree games
are played in social circles with anyone who is willing to participate
where two people attracted to each other enjoy an evening flirting with each other until one turns the other down and both leave feelings slightly uncomfortable
Second-degree games
occurs when the players go after bigger stakes, usually in more intimate circles, and end up with bad feelings.
two persons get angrier and angrier until one or both get very upset about being called a name or put down
Third-degree game
usually involves injury; the players end up in jail, hospital, or the morgue.
Cops and Robbers
people dare those in authority to catch them and yet leave clues about where they can be cornered.
With each increasing degree there is
greater danger of permanent damage
Individuals who play games operate from one of three positions
victim, persecutor, rescuer
Game players avoid
meaningful and healthy relationships
Life Script
determine how individuals interact with others, are based on interpretations of external events
Positive functions
given to children function as permissions and not limit them in any way
Negative messages
are more powerful and may become the basis for destructive scripts
verbal or physical recognition
accumulation of either good or bad feelings
Never scripts
individuals never get to do what they want
Until Scripts
individuals must wait until a certain time to do something they want to do
Always scripts
individuals tell themselves that they must continue doing what they have been doing
After scripts
individuals expect difficulty after a certain event
Open-ended scripts
individuals do not know what they are supposed to do after a given time
focus on minute by minute occurrences
allow people to escape their life scripts but the escape is only temporary
I'm OK; you're OK
a get-on-with position
I'm OK; you're not OK
a get-away from position
I'm not OK; you're OK
a get-nowhere-with position
I'm not OK; you're not OK
a get-rid-of position
Role of the Counselor
initial role of teacher. Must explain to their clients the language and the concepts of TA, a new way of thinking about self. Counselors contract with clients for specific changes and help achieve them. Counselors help clients obtain, the tools, or skills, necessary for change and empower them through various techniques.
Primary goals of TA focus on
transforming clients from frogs in princes and princesses, emphasize on attaining health and autonomy, help clients identify and restore distorted or damaged ego states, develop the capacity use all ego states. Learning about the self in order to decide what changes to make and whom one wishes to become
Treatment contract
emphasizes agreed-upon responsibilities for both counselors and clients
involves speaking to a client's adult ego state until an adult response is given; can be confrontational; can ineffective, supplying only historical material
identifies the ego state that initiated a transaction; takes place on an adult-to-adult level
involves pointing out inconsistencies in client behavior or speech
Teaches the client about some aspect of TA; occurs on adult-to-adult ego state level
enlightens the client or elaborates on a point; may speak to both the child and the adult ego states
points out recurrence off previously modified behavior; can be effective only when the client has a firmly established adult ego state
explains to the child ego state of the client the reasons for the client's behavior; can be effective only when the client has a functioning adult ego state
involves an adult-to-adult transaction in which the client becomes aware that game playing may be given up; frees the client; completes the TA process
Classical San Francisco school
emphasis on explanation, diagrams, contracts, and behavioral change
Cathexis school
emphasized confrontation and reparenting
Redecision school
emphasized the child's compliance with injunctions and the power to make new decisions
Strengths and Contributions
1) uses terms that are easily understood and clearly defined
2) easily and effectively combined with other more action-oriented counseling theories
3) puts the responsibility for change on clients
4) goal directed
5) worldwide association that sponsors certification, conferences, and publications related to the theory
Limitations and Criticisms
1) limited in its effectiveness unless it is used with another more action-oriented theory
2) criticized for its simplicity, structure, and popularity
3) TA does not emphasize the authenticity of the counselor
4) research behind it is relatively weak
5) approach has not developed much since Berne's death in 1970