Developed by Eric Berne during the 1950’s, Transactional Analysis (TA) is a simple method of describing our experiences of life in a way that makes both sense and brings a smile of recognition giving hope for change. It has a highly developed structure and a framework of thinking that allows for a wide-ranging approach to therapy. This includes:
A description of personality in three parts: that of parent/adult/child (P A C) ego states.
Observing the way in which people ‘set-up’ relationships (games).
Observing the way in which people live their lives generally, producing ‘payoff’s’ based on early life decisions (scripts).
By giving attention to what is going on between people (transactions) it is possible to find alternative options for relating to others.
Clarifying and changing the way people see themselves and how they interact with other people.
The ego states
P A C are the 3 ego states that Eric Berne believed we all have within us:
• Parent ego state
This is a collection of thoughts, behaviours, attitudes and feelings taken from outside sources that have served as parental or authoritarian figures in our life.
- Adult ego state
This is essentially a data processor that takes in information and determines the best course of action and when to act.
It is the store of our accumulated knowledge, experience and understanding of our self and the world at large.
It holds information determining how things work, how to organise, how to plan etc. It has nothing to do with being adult, mature, or right.
• Child ego state
This represents the feelings and thoughts and behaviours of childhood.
It is the part we are born with; the part that thinks, feels, acts and talks just the way it did when a child or at a certain age.
The child ego state not regarded as childish or immature and should not be repressed or ignored. We should value its creativity and spontaneity as it is considered as clever and loving. Eric Berne said it is the best part of our personality.
We experience the child ego state through our feelings, needs and desires. It can be difficult to deal with at times because of bad experiences that have not been resolved.
The Development and Perpetuation of Neurosis
Usually scripts are formed in early childhood (although they can also be formed during adulthood) that influence and shape a persons life experience. They are formed from the child’s responses to its environment (particularly the response to interactions with parental figures and significant others) as a protective mechanism. By forming scripts a person can limit their own capacity for spontaneity, awareness and intimacy in the interests of ‘survival’.
• Script beliefs
These are self-limiting beliefs about the self, others, and ones quality of life that
have developed as a response to the formation of scripts.
The human child has a vast capacity and need for love and recognition, a basic
part of healthy human psychological development. The provision and withdrawal of love and recognition can have a profound influence on psychological and behavioural development. Berne proposed the concept of ‘strokes’ from this provision and withdrawal. Giving or withholding strokes (love and recognition) has a profound effect on the development of scripts.
These are the behaviours displayed as a result of script beliefs. Rackets are
reinforced by repetition of behavioural patterns in response to internal and
external events in a person’s environment.
These are the moment-to-moment ways in which we recreate the stimulus-
response sequences that lead to the maintenance of the racket system. Transactionscan be categorised as either predictable, unpredictable or covert (hidden agenda).
Games form the interactional sequence by which scripts are perpetuated. Thiscan be seen in the way a person communicates with others; the result ofwhich promotes and reinforces the script and script beliefs