Theories of Transactional Analysis and Therapy

The “transaction stimulus” is given by the individual initiating the discussion, and the “transaction response” is given by the person receiving the stimulus (or communication message).

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The technique used to examine this communication process of transactions with others is called transactional analysis. It necessitates that we be conscious of our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors when interacting with other people.

Three “ego states,” or whole systems of emotion, thinking, and acting from which we communicate with one another, make up the human personality, according to TA. The basis of transactional analysis theory is the interplay between the Parent, Adult, and Child ego states.

In order to intervene and enhance the efficacy and quality of communication, transactional analysts are taught to identify the ego states that individuals are transacting from and to adhere to the transactional sequences.

Whence did Transactional Analysis originate?

TA was started by Eric Berne in the late 1950s. Born in Canada in 1910, Eric Berne passed away in 1970. His area of expertise was psychoanalysis.

His concepts for TA originated from Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, which holds that our childhood experiences have a significant influence on our adult life and provide the foundation for our personalities and any psychological or emotional problems we may have.

This might therefore unintentionally lead us to respond to communication and interactions with old childhood concerns and emotions, or to unintentionally repeat to someone else the same attitudes and behaviors that our parents had toward us during a conversation.

According to Eric Berne, self-limiting choices made as a youngster for survival could lead to dysfunctional conduct. These choices lead to the pre-conscious life plan that directs how life is lived, or what Berne referred to as the “life script.”

The goal of psychotherapy based on transactional analysis is to alter the life script. Other uses of transactional analysis try to substitute cooperative non-violent behavior with violent organizational or social programming.

Other psychologists and psychotherapists who have contributed to the development of theory and its therapeutic applications since Berne’s creation include Thomas Harris and Claude Steiner.

The State of Ego

According to TA, there are three distinct states or modes of being that humans might inhabit during interactions: the child ego state, the parent ego state, and the adult state (Berne, 1957).

How is therapy utilizing Transactional Analysis?

Strengthening the client’s adult state is the overarching objective or aim of TA treatment. This is accomplished by applying tactful questions and techniques to identify the triggers that send the client into parent or child ego mode, and then developing useful coping mechanisms to assist them remain in their adult state during these situations (Berne, 1958).

Script analysis is another name for this procedure, which examines and evaluates the scripts we created as children. Scripts are the implicit ideas and perspectives we have about the world, other people, and ourselves that we have formed from early experiences and interactions in an effort to make sense of both our internal and external surroundings.

Any reinforcement—positive or negative—that we received as children to act or not behave in a particular manner will be examined during script analysis, along with any life lessons we may have received, such as the idea that “only the fortunate get rich” or “you have to suffer in order to succeed.”

Individuals will also investigate whether or not they are imitating the behavior of their parents and other authoritative figures.

The more subdued cues we were given as children—such as being told to keep quiet when our parents were talking to friends—will also be examined; these are known as injunctions. These might leave an impression on our beliefs that “no one wants to hear me” or “what I want to say doesn’t really matter.” These would be discussed in therapy along with how they currently impact our relationships.

TA practitioners employ the parent, adult, and child diagram, often known as the “structural diagram,” as a helpful visual aid to assist clients grasp the three states that exist inside them.

This influences their social and behavioral relationships and helps them understand how the three moods interact with one another in certain contexts and with specific individuals they speak with.

TA can be utilized as a short-term therapy, a quick solution-focused approach, or a more comprehensive long-term approach to improve our relationships with others, lessen conflict, and gain deeper understanding into our unconscious reality.

Because of its adaptability, TA may be utilized in family counseling, couple’s psychotherapy, and individual psychotherapy. Other practitioners, including nurses and instructors, who work with clients, as well as those in fields like business or sales training, may find it useful to apply.