The theory of the Transactional Analysis (TA), developed by psychiatrist Eric Berne, focuses on the development of the personality. What ideas have you developed about yourself, others and the world. These “internalised” ideas “pollute” the way you perceive and interact with others and yourself. This has nothing to do with inabilities, but with the strength of old patterns and the fear of letting go of these patterns. This leads to transactions between people that aren’t about what is happening in the here-and-now, but are based on old beliefs (see Script below). We re-play childhood strategies in grown-up life, even when these are painful. We can reveal these old beliefs and change them to restore our autonomy, interactions with others and reinforce the loving way we deal with ourselves.
How does Transactional Analysis work?
In the TA, your autonomy is key. Every person is responsible for his or herself and has the capacity to think and decide, e.g. your Adult Ego state. The basic assumption in TA is ‘Every person is Okay’.
The Transactional Analysis uses, amongst others, the following concepts that are briefly described below.
From childhood on, every person develops five Ego-states; a set of related behaviours, thoughts and feelings.
I may behave in ways that are similar to the ways my parent(s) or parent figures behaved:
- The structuring Parent; your feeding, protecting and soothing inner voice (P+)
- The negative Parent; your inner critic (P-)
I may also behave in ways I used to as a child.
- The free or natural Child that acts out of her own needs and limits (C+).
- The adapted Child that 'needs’ to fulfil other people’s needs and demands (C-)
I may respond to situations as they occur in the here-and-now. I can resolve and make decisions from an (rational) overview.
- The (autonomous) Adult: that is fed by P+ and C+,
[The Ego-states are written with a capital to distinguish them from the different stages in life]
In the early years of our lives we develop certain convictions about ourselves and the world around us. Based on these (subconscious) convictions we take certain Script decisions: ‘when I act like this, I will be loved and safe’. Based on these early decisions we adapt in certain ways, often disregarding our inner self (C-). We get out of touch with our inner knowledge (C+), and act on that Life Script that gives us a false sense of security. False, because we rearrange certain aspects of our lives and the world around us to fit that script [‘this is the way of the world’] .
The Drama triangle explains how interaction becomes unproductive and unsatisfactory. This is referred to as a Game. In the Drama triangle we describe three positions: the Rescuer, the Victim and the Persecutor. All three of them have their own open and hidden agenda. In all three positions one does not take responsibility for his or her own actions, which is reflected in the communication. The (desired) effect is a conformation of one’s own position (‘Told you so…’). These positions aren’t fixed. Every one of us can take on any positions and positions can change during an interaction.
- The Rescuer is trying to help the victim but in doing so denies the other persons autonomy and ability.
- The Victim feels powerless and will turn to the Rescuer for a (false) solution. Or he will look at the Persecutor to confirm his inabilities.
- The Persecutor puts down others and belittles them. Others are one-down.
In this type of game, ultimately, a switch will take place where someone will move from one role to another. The Rescuer gets frustrated because his advice is not followed and the Victim feels frustrated because he or she doesn’t feel helped. One or both will switch to the role of Persecutor: ‘you’re doing it wrong’
What TA offers you
You are capable of approaching the world from the central assumption in TA: ’ I am OK, you are OK’.
The TA helps you see that you are already a lovable person. That notion brings confidence and lightness to your existence.