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Garry Platt


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Transactional Analysis Part 1 ~ What Is It Good For?


Transactional Analysis (TA) was originally developed by Eric Berne an eminent psychiatrist working in America during the 40’s-70’s. It is a collection of incredibly powerful and insightful concepts into the human mind and human nature. One of the principal reasons Berne developed TA was to empower the people with whom he was working in a therapeutic setting and to facilitate greater understanding. For some psychiatrists the relationship between themselves and the client was not necessarily collaborative and in part this was due to the language, concepts and framework used in psychology. Berne in part wanted to create a language and conceptual framework of human behaviour that more people could access and understand.

Berne began publically developing the concept of TA in the early 1950’s and since that time the model has grown, developed and been enhanced by numerous other leading psychologists and therapists. It is generally recognised as a post-Freudian concept of human behaviour and personality. Probably the most famous aspect of TA with which most people are familiar are the three ego states: Parent, Adult and Child. These are the foundation blocks of TA’s framing of the human personality and the basis upon which everything else is foundered.

TA has one major representing body in the UK, the European Association of Transactional Analysis (EATA). This body amongst many other things promotes TA in its various forms, manages membership of its ranks, conducts an examining process of its members and disseminates ethical and best practises as well supporting and publishing research.

There are now four recognised fields of practise in TA:

Counselling The application of TA concepts in the field of counselling and social contexts
Education The use of TA theory in school and education frameworks
Organisation The use of TA in the field of organisational development, consulting and training.
Psychotherapy Applying TA in it original therapeutic setting.

For the trainer and developer the most relevant and useful area to explore is the organisational context. My own personal experience of TA began nearly twenty five years ago. I had just walked out of a training session and I was dissatisfied with the relationship I had with the learners. I discussed my concerns with a colleague and I remember they lent over the table and pronounced in a loud authoritarian voice; ‘You need to get into TA!’ It worried me at the time as I had absolutely no military aspirations what so ever. I later discovered what TA stood for and very soon after attended my first introductory training session. It was road to Damascus stuff. I suddenly discovered why I behaved like a spoiled brat in some circumstances, projected a distant and cold persona to others and more importantly became a snivelling wreck when confronted by any aggressive and abrupt classroom bully. (I’m really selling myself here aren’t I?) From there I went onto read and devour as much TA as I could. And of all the things I have ever learnt, including how to change a tyre through to building your own thermal nuclear reactor TA has been without doubt the most useful and constructive concept I have ever encountered.

The reason for my enthusiasm in this field is simple; TA as a concept is relatively easy to understand. And once the fundamentals are grasped that knowledge explains and subsequently can shape and inform our actions at this essential and core level. TA is not a series of techniques or behavioural practises, TA is an sight into the fundamental aspects of what makes us tick as human beings. An individual equipped with that knowledge can make significant progress in helping themselves and others to develop and learn. As a consequence TA can enhance the performance of virtually any trainer or developer who cares to learn and absorb what it can teach us.

Useful Web Sites:

To find out more about Eric Berne you can visit his Wikipedia entry here:

To find out more about EATA you can visit their web site here:

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Garry Platt

Senior Consultant

Read more from Garry Platt

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