Transactional analysis

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Transactional analysis (TA) is a psychodynamic way of understanding human interpersonal relationships and interactions. Basically, it builds on the Freudian notion of Id, Ego, and Superego as three competing parts of our "self" to consider relationships in terms of what happens when people play each of these roles -- in the form of Child (Id), Adult (Ego), and Parent (Superego). TA involves the notion of "hooking" whereby if I play a Child role, it will put you at risk of being hooked into playing Parent. When in a Child-Parent game, someone needs to risk playing Adult, and thereby hook the other person back into an Adult-Adult dynamic. However, being a Child is not to be discouraged - this is about being playful, creative, spontaneous, loving, etc. And sometimes we need to be a Parent - this is about being nurturing, responsible, guiding, supportive, etc. But the "worst" of this dynamic can be, for example, the screaming child and the overbearing parent. Other combinations have other dominant dynamics. The common dynamics are described as "games". There is much more to TA, but this introduction gives the essence of it. Enough, really, for anyone interested to start asking questions, reading, and making observations and analysis, etc.

Diagram of concepts in transactional analysis, based on cover of Eric Berne's 1964 book Games People Play.

Key concepts[edit]

  • Ego state model (PAC model): [1],
  • Transactions, Strokes (Warm Fuzzies & Cold Pricklies), Time structuring
  • Life script
  • Discounting, redefining, symbiosis
  • Rackets, stamps, and games
  • Autonomy

Philosophical assumptions[edit]

  • People are OK.
  • Everyone has the capacity to think.
  • People decide their own destiny, and these decisions can be changed.

From these assumptions follow two basic principles of transactional analysis practice:

  1. The contractual method: Emphasizes that the transactional analysis practitioner and the client take joint responsibility for achieving whatever change the client wants to make, and
  2. Open communication: Means that the client as well as the practitioner should have full information about what is going on in their work together.

Games people play[edit]

There are some common dynamics that occur between people. TA describes many of these - such as in Berne's book "Games People Play".

An example dynamic is the Karpman drama triangle.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]