Emerge Therapy

What is Transactional Analysis

General

Transactional Analysis (TA) is a theory of personality and a system for personal growth and change. TA was founded by Eric Berne in the 1950s and 1960s and has been evolving ever since.

TA was originally developed as a new form of psychotherapy with an emphasis on open and equal dialogue between client and therapist. Because TA focuses on empowering individuals, as well as  understanding the relationships we form with others, it has been developed beyond the therapeutic field. It is now a well-established approach used in psychotherapy, counselling, education and organisational development. As well as providing a theory of personality, Transactional Analysis offers a range of models that can be used to explain communication and relationships. These models can help identify what goes wrong in communication and how to interact for a better outcome. Many TA concepts are simple to learn and apply, making them very accessible and effective.

TA is a humanistic philosophy. This means I focus on each individual’s potential and stress the importance of growth and personal development. I fundamentally believe that people are innately good and that mental and social problems result from deviations from this natural tendency.

The fundamental beliefs of TA are:

People are OK. This means: you and I both have worth, value and dignity as people. I accept myself as me and I accept you as you. This is a statement of essence rather than behaviour. At times, I may not like nor accept what you do. But always, I accept what you are. Your essence as a human being is OK with me, even though your behaviour may not be.

Everyone has the capacity to think. Therefore it is the responsibility of each of us to decide what he or she wants from life. Each individual will ultimately live with the consequences of what he or she decides. People decide their own destiny, and these decisions can be changed.

From these assumptions there follow two basic principles of TA practice:

TA is contractual

As Therapist and client we take joint responsibility for achieving whatever change(s) you want to make. This follows from the assumption that you and I relate on equal terms. Since we both take part in the process of change, it is important that we both know clearly how the task will be shared. Therefore we enter into a contract.

TA involves open communication.

When Eric Berne developed TA he insisted that the client should have full information about what is going on in their work together. This follows from the basic assumptions that people are OK and that everyone can think. This was a radical move for psychotherapy in the 1960’s and remains a cornerstone of TA practice in all 4 fields today. The practitioner will often encourage the client to learn the ideas of TA. Thus the client can take an equal role in the process of change.


To help in communication, the ideas of TA are expressed in simple language. Instead of the long Latin- or Greek-derived words customary in some other branches of psychology, TA speaks in familiar words: Parent, Adult, Child, game, script, stroke etc.

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Transactional Analysis (TA) is a theory of personality and a system for personal growth and change. TA was founded by Eric Berne in the 1950s and 1960s and has been evolving ever since.

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