About Transactional Analysis (TA) ...
Transactional Analysis sounds complicated, but is an easy way of describing:
- Relationships, how they work and don't work
- How our past relationships affect our current life and problems
- How we can use TA to become more aware and make better choices
Eric Berne was a Canadian-born psychiatrist and the son of a doctor. He believed that psychiatry and counselling should aim to cure people, not leave them with life long incapacity.
He wanted to develop simple tools and ways of explaining things that everyone could understand, and therefore use. He did not believe in 'psycho-babble'.
His philosophy (and the philosophy of TA) is simple:
- People are OK (even if their behaviour may not be). Each and every person is important and worth respect. This includes You, and it includes Me.
- All people need positives from themselves and other people in order to feel OK. In TA these are called 'positive strokes', such as 'well done', 'fantastic', and even 'Hello'. Smiling is also a positive stroke.
- Everyone, with the possible exception of the severely brain-injured, has the capacity to think. This means that you can think (even if it doesn't always feel like it).
- If we can think, then each of us has the capacity to choose, to make choices
- We often made choices earlier in our lives (in childhood) in response to what was happening to us then. These choices may have protected us or kept us safe. We may make the same choices now automatically (for example, not to trust others, or to never say no), but they do not serve us so well now.
- By becoming more aware of our choices, why we made them and how we grew as individuals we can use tools within TA to make changes.
In TA you will come across the following ideas with your therapist (but don't worry, you are not expected to memorise anything or become an expert in anything other than your own life):
Each of us have set ways of thinking, behaving and feeling which we picked up in childhood either from our parent figures or from ways in which we coped with our lives as children. This idea gives us a way of looking at the beliefs that we hold, the decisions we've made as children and adults, and whether we want to change those things or not.
Not only do we have set ways of thinking, behaving and feeling depending on our circumstances, but so do other people. This effects the way we and they communicate.
For example, I may talk to you very critically (from my Parent Ego State), and if you reply from your Parent Ego State ('Don't tell me what to do!'), we are likely to have conflict.
Or I may relate to people from my Child Ego State and come across as a victim because I wasn't listened to as a child and don't feel listened to now. This can cause me problems.
As babies and very young children we needed two basic things: to have our physical needs met; and to feel loved. As we grew our emotional needs grew. We wanted to be listened to. We needed to feel valued and wanted. We needed freedom to explore and safety to know when it wasn't safe.
Unfortunately our needs were not always met. We learned that it was not always possible to get positive strokes from others, and it wasn't always a good idea to give positive strokes to others. So we adapted.
As Adults we sometimes struggle to receive compliments, or be sociable, or feel part of a group. We may feel unloved even within a loving relationship. We may be overly dependant on a destructive relationship because we want to be loved. Through therapy we can relearn how to give and receive positive strokes.
We can also relearn one of the other things that we may have lost in childhood: that we are really OK and that other people are really OK (even if our or their behaviour may not be).
Life Scripts and Games:
The decisions we made in childhood (such as not to trust, or to work hard but never succeed) become a life plan which we take into adulthood. We accept those things in our lives that reinforce our basic beliefs and ways of doing things, and we reject or ignore those things that don't fit our 'script'.
This is our personal life story, our play, our way of being in the world and coping with the things in our lives. Our script is mostly unconscious and we play games which reinforce our script throughout our lifetime (also unconsciously).
Berne gave the games we play very ordinary names. You may recognise some that you play (Brackets are my notes):
- Kick Me (and prove my belief that I'm worthless)
- Poor Me (I can't do anything for myself)
- Now I've Got You ... (and proven I'm superior)
- Why Don't You ... Yes But ...
- Corner (whatever you say you can't win)
- Courtroom (couple argue in front of guests to see who's right)
- Wooden Leg (Is it any wonder I can't .... just look at my wooden leg)
- If It Weren't For You (as an excuse to not do something)
And so on ...
By recognising and confronting games and their origins in getting our needs met through therapy, we can give up games which make us or others feel bad and live more freely (or authentically).
A Personal Note:
There is much more to Transactional Analysis, but I hope this has given you a flavour of the excellent tools available within TA Therapy.
However, please be reassured, these tools will not be used to overwhelm you with information or work. The Therapeutic Relationship must above all be safe and at the clients own pace. There will be alot of time spent talking together as well as using some of these tools where needed.
If you would like to start therapy, or have questions or would like to just learn more about Transactional Analysis and How It Can Help You, Click on The Big Red Button and Send Me a Message