What is transactional analysis?

Transactional analysis is both a theory and a form of therapy. In this fact sheet, you will discover this approach in more detail, its principles, its history, its benefits, how it is practiced, how to practice it, and finally, what are the contraindications to this approach.

Transactional analysis

Transactional analysis is a theory and method based on an optimistic philosophy whose language is accessible to all. Its system of values is based on the foundations of the humanist current, with the postulate that human nature is fundamentally positive, capable of making choices and assuming them. The theory is neo-Freudian, describing the workings of the self (the 3 states of the self). Transactional analysis proposes autonomy as an objective of good psychological health. It is also used to understand how the child builds himself, develops, faces the threats of the world around him by making survival decisions. This theory makes it possible to analyze the different levels of communication between humans.

It is useful to understand how individuals organize themselves in groups, companies, associations, cultures, states, etc... This theory is nowadays widely used as a management tool in companies.

Transactional analysis (TA) is initially a form of psychotherapy. But it is also a theory of "social psychiatry" (in the words of its creator) because it proposes to study the psyche of people by analyzing their social relationships. It derives its name from the word "transaction" which, in English, designates an exchange, verbal or not. This approach has often been called the "popular version of psychoanalysis".

The benefits of transactional analysis

Transactional analysts explain dysfunctions, inappropriate behaviors, psychosomatic illnesses, and even neuroses and psychoses through notions of "early decisions" and "life scenarios". From childhood (3 to 8 years old), we would make decisions, renunciations and "painful choices" our own. This would create more or less permanent "life scenarios". We would do this because, at this age, we have resources and means of action that are necessarily reduced. These scenarios would serve as defense mechanisms or lesser evil solutions in the face of pressure from the environment or adverse situations. Later on, after having developed other dimensions of one's personality and acquired new skills, one could re-evaluate these decisions and make the necessary modifications to better develop oneself. However, this requires an awareness of one's early decisions and life scenarios. This is one of the benefits of transactional analysis.

Transactional analysis was initially conceived by its founder as a therapeutic tool designed to help people in difficulty to make in-depth changes with tools that he wanted to be simple and easy to use.

Today it is used for :

  • understand how a personality is built and developed
  • to get to know and understand each other better
  • decipher his personal mode of communication with others
  • Understand the dysfunctions of communication and think about options to improve our relationships.
  • better living in a group
  • interpret the structure and organization of human groups and organizations

Which me are you talking to?

The basic concept of transactional analysis is that of the 3 states of the self, formed during early childhood and which constitute the structure of any personality: they are the Parent, the Adult and the Child. They are generally represented by 3 superimposed circles. All 3 are as important as each other. What happens in our interpersonal relationships and in our lives depends largely on the state of the self from which we act, in this or that situation.

  • The Child state is the one from which creativity, play, intuition, impulses and feelings come. If it can be spontaneous, intuitive and creative, the Child can also be capricious, rebellious or submissive.
  • The Parent state, for its part, is responsible, comforting and protective. It represents the ethical sense and norms, which is the basis of respect for oneself and others. It is "civilized", but can be critical, devaluing and constraining.
  • As for the Adult state, it serves as a balancing function between the Parent and the Child, knowing when to let go of one or the other. It evaluates, reflects and functions rationally according to the situation of the moment. The Adult state is a kind of computer: it is neither negative nor positive.

In the case of an "ideal" psyche, each state occupies the right place at the right time. For example, if inside a person the Parent can set limits for the Child, that person will be able to have fun at a party without losing his head. Or they can come up with original, even crazy ideas in a business meeting without the Parent muzzling the Child.

But it often happens that one of the states is atrophied, or too omnipresent, or that it only has its negative dimension. If the Adult state is "contaminated" by certain aspects of the Parent or Child, the person will not have access to his full "adult" resources. People can be "frozen" in a particular state. Some will always be frowning, like the Critical Parent, for example. Others will react inexorably in the same way, no matter whether it is appropriate or not (as the eternal submissive Child, for example).

When 2 people exchange with each other, a wide variety of "transactions" can take place. It depends on the state of being from which each person is expressing themselves; the state of being that they believe they are addressing; and the actual state of being of the person responding. Parallel or complementary exchanges generally do not create conflict: for example, when the Parent speaks to the Child and the Child responds to the Parent; or when the Parent speaks to the Parent who responds as a Parent. But this does not necessarily mean that these exchanges are healthy.

Psychic discomforts, conflicts and breakdowns occur when transactions are crossed: for example, one Adult asks for factual information from the other Adult who, thinking he is in default, reacts rather as a Child submitted to a Parent. The possibilities of cross transactions are considerable and give rise to all sorts of frustrations, misunderstandings, manipulations... Without realizing it and without understanding what pushes the other to react in such a way, people are therefore very often engaged in dysfunctional transactions.

To these basic notions, much more complex than this summary suggests, are grafted a host of concepts likely to reveal the psyche of the individual. Let us mention double-bottomed transactions (with apparent and hidden degrees); schemes (games) that are transactions rigged for profit; exchanges of signs of recognition, successful or not; dramatic roles (persecutor, rescuer, victim); life scenarios and counter-scenarios, etc.

Taking responsibility for change

Eric Berne insisted a lot on the responsibility of the person in the setting up of his life story and in his capacity to change. He believed that with competent help, any person can regain his original capacities, which would only be waiting to be delivered from the prohibitions created by the scenarios he has constructed. Berne wanted to enable his clients to overcome psychological suffering and to reach a maturity characterized by a great capacity for awareness, autonomy and spontaneity.

As in many humanistic psychotherapies, the aim here is to help the patient to :zx

  • become aware of his behaviors;
  • review in which context (generally family or cultural) the problematic attitudes have been adopted;
  • make the decision to rebuild healthy interpersonal boundaries;
  • organize the various elements of his emotional, intellectual and relational life in an integrated way, in order to have a more satisfying life in the present.

Transactional analysis in practice

The Specialist

Transactional analysis is a form of psychotherapy that can be practiced by coaches, psychotherapists, psychologists. Commonly practiced in the West, the European Association for Transactional Analysis (EATA) has more than 7,500 members.

Course of a session

In transactional analysis, sessions are generally individual and last from 45 minutes to 1 hour. During the first consultation, the specialist will take the patient's anamnesis. He will then ask him questions about his life and his difficulties, in order to identify his expectations and his problems. This first session will also serve to establish a climate of trust between the therapist and his patient and to define the modalities (duration, frequency) of care. Depending on the time available to the patient and his problems, the rhythm of the sessions may be more or less frequent (once a week is a very sustained rhythm) and last more or less long (weeks or even years). As the sessions progress, the therapist accompanies the patient and helps him or her to adopt the changes he or she wants.

Transactional Analysis Training

Professional training in transactional analysis is special in that the candidate takes responsibility for his or her own path, chooses his or her area of specialization (psychotherapy, education, social work, management) and hires a certified trainer/supervisor (from the appropriate area of specialization) with whom he or she establishes a contract. In parallel to this work with an instructor, he must attend conferences and seminars. The certification body then manages the oral and written examinations. In addition, the candidate is asked to engage in a process of therapy or personal development in transactional analysis. It generally takes 3 to 6 years to become a Certified Transactional Analyst.

Transactional Analysis Conttre-indications

Transactional analysis has great qualities and remarkably effective tools, yet it has been criticized for its lack of central assumptions. It is also pointed out that the description of the different states (Parent, Adult and Child) does not correspond to any biochemical or physiological reality. Finally, it is criticized for not taking into account the sociological dimension of human problems, and for neglecting the importance of imagination and fantasy. It must also be said that his jargon and aphorisms, humorous in the American way, are sometimes perceived as simplistic (and often incongruous in French!).

But transactional analysis has ardent defenders: is it not, as Berne intended, accessible to people of all ages and social conditions? And then, as one theologian and

psychoanalyst: "This therapy, apparently superficial since it focuses more on roles than on deep psychic instances, is however very important in the perspectives of transpersonal therapies. First of all, because it values the Adult self, autonomous, capable of judging by itself. Then, because it advocates the unconditional acceptance of others".

Transactional analysis is first of all defined as psychotherapy and should be able to help solve various types of problems related to psychic life and relationships with oneself and others. Professional associations of analysts, however, make no statements about the specific problems that the approach is likely to treat.

There is, however, no good scientific research that confirms the effectiveness of this approach. Transactional analysis, however, remains a tool for understanding interpersonal relationships and the mechanisms that underlie them in order to better interact in society and in intimacy.

History of transactional analysis

Developed by psychiatrist Eric Berne (1910-1970) in the 1950s, transactional analysis is based on an inescapable premise: each person is "fundamentally correct", has value, importance and dignity, and has the capacity to think and choose. This places the approach within the mainstream of humanistic psychology.

Eric Berne insisted a lot on the responsibility of the person in setting up his life story and in his capacity to change. He believed that with competent help, any person can regain his original capacities, which would only be waiting to be delivered from the prohibitions created by the scenarios he has constructed. Berne wanted to enable his clients to overcome psychological suffering and to reach a maturity characterized by a great capacity for awareness, autonomy and spontaneity.

Share To:

Post A Comment:

0 comments so far,add yours