Learn how and when to remove this template message Within the framework of transactional analysis, more recent transactional analysts have developed different and overlapping theories of transactional analysis: cognitive, behavioural, relational, redecision, integrative, constructivist, narrative, body-work, positive psychological, personality adaptational, self-reparenting, psychodynamic and neuroconstructivist. Cognitive-based transactional analysts use ego state identification to identify communication distortions and teach different functional options in the dynamics of communication. Some make additional contracts for more profound work involving life plans or scripts or with unconscious processes, including those which manifest in the client-therapist relationship as transference and countertransference, and define themselves as psychodynamic or relational transactional analysts. Some highlight the study and promotion of subjective well-being and optimal human functioning rather than pathology and so identify with positive psychology.

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Videos Transactional Analysis The following is an introductory description of Transactional Analysis. It is designed to be understood by the layperson, written with approximately the same level of complexity that Berne used for Games People Play.

Psychoanalysis before Eric Berne While there were many theories purporting to explain human behavior before Eric Berne, the most frequently cited and known is the work of Sigmund Freud. Freud emerged in the early 20th century with his theories about personality. Freud believed that personality had three components, all of which must work together to produce our complex behaviors. These three components or aspects were the Id, Ego, and the Superego.

According to Freud, the Id functions in the irrational and emotional part of the mind, the Ego functions as the rational part of the mind, and the Superego can be thought of as the moral part of the mind, a manifestation of societal or parental values.

Regardless of the classification or name given to a particular area of personality id, superego, etc. But in a point to be emphasized later in this paper, Dr. Berne in his development of Transactional Analysis is Dr. Penfield discovered that, when applying current to the temporal lobe of live and alert patients, he would stimulate meaningful memories. These patients would recite these events, even though in many cases they were events that the patients were unable to recollect on their own.

Penfield carried out these and similar experiments for many years. Some of the key conclusions that he reached that went on to influence Berne in his development of Transactional Analysis include: The human brain acts in many ways like a camcorder, vividly recording events. While that event may not necessarily be able to be consciously retrieved by the owner, the event always exists in the brain.

Both the event and the feelings experienced during that event are stored in the brain. The event and the feelings are locked together, and neither one can be recalled without the other.

When an individual replays his or her experiences, he or she can replay them in such a vivid form that the individual experiences again the same emotions he or she felt during the actual experience.

Individuals replaying certain events are able to experience the emotions associated with those events, but they are also able to objectively talk about the events at the same time. These contributions by Penfield and Freud, as well as many others, were used by Berne as he developed his theories on Transactional Analysis and games.

Transactions Defined Before Berne first published his theories on Transactional Analysis, he spent years formulating the framework of this approach. The key to this methodology was a transaction — the fundamental unit of social intercourse. Berne also defined a stroke — the fundamental unit of social action strokes are discussed in more detail later in this paper. For example, the study of chemistry was revolutionized with the atomic theory of John Dalton; without the atom as a fundamental unit, the advancement of chemistry as a science would have proceeded slowly or not at all.

If two or more people encounter each other… sooner or later one of them will speak, or give some other indication of acknowledging the presence of the others. This is called transactional stimulus. Another person will then say or do something which is in some way related to the stimulus, and that is called the transactional response. Berne defined the basic unit of analysis. At its simplest level, Transactional Analysis is the method for studying interactions between individuals.

By identifying and standardizing upon a single unit, development and promotion of this theory was easily facilitated. While Freud and most other psychotherapists took the rather simplistic approach of asking the patient about themselves, Berne took an alternate approach to therapy.

Berne felt that a therapist could learn what the problem was by simply observing what was communicated words, body language, facial expressions in a transaction. So instead of directly asking the patient questions, Berne would frequently observe the patient in a group setting, noting all of the transactions that occurred between the patient and other individuals.

During the course of their treatment, he consistently noted that his patients, and indeed all people, could and would change over the course of a conversation. The changes would not necessarily be verbal — the changes could involve facial expressions, body language, body temperature, and many other non-verbal cues.

In one counseling session, Berne treated a 35 year old lawyer. Later, in their sessions, the lawyer would frequently ask Dr. As Berne gained confidence in this theory, he went on to introduce these in a paper — one year before he published his seminal paper introducing Transactional Analysis. Berne ultimately defined the three ego states as: Parent, Adult, and Child. It should be carefully noted that the descriptions of these ego states do NOT necessarily correspond to their common definitions as used the English language.

The following are detailed descriptions of the three ego states: Parent — The parent represents a massive collection of recordings in the brain of external events experienced or perceived in approximately the first five years of life. Since the majority of the external events experienced by a child are actions of the parent, the ego state was appropriately called Parent. Note that events perceived by the child from individuals that are NOT parents but who are often in parent-like roles are also recorded in the Parent.

When Transactional Analysts refer to the Parent ego state as opposed to a biological or stepparent , it is capitalized. The same goes for the other two states Adult and Child. One can consider that these events are imposed on the child. There are other data experienced by the child that are not recorded in the Parent. This is recorded in the Adult, which will be described shortly. Child — In contrast to the Parent, the Child represents the recordings in the brain of internal events associated with external events the child perceives.

Stated another way, stored in the Child are the emotions or feelings which accompanied external events. Like the Parent, recordings in the Child occur from childbirth all the way up to the age of approximately 5 years old. Adult — The Adult is the last ego state. Close to one year of age, a child begins to exhibit gross motor activity.

The child learns that he or she can control a cup from which to drink, that he or she can grab a toy. In social settings, the child can play peek-a-boo. This is the beginning of the Adult in the small child.

In other words, the Adult allows the young person to evaluate and validate Child and Parental data. In an attempt to explain Transactional Analysis to a more mainstream audience, Dr. Thomas Harris developed the following summary. Information on both of these books can be found in the Bibliography page. Analyzing Transactions When two people communicate, one person initiates a transaction with the transactional stimulus see the above Transactions Defined section for a definition of the transaction stimulus.

The person at whom the stimulus is directed will respond with the transactional response. Simple Transactional Analysis involves identifying which ego state directed the stimulus and which ego state in the other person executed the response. According to Dr. Berne, the simplest transactions are between Adults ego states. But not all transactions proceed in this manner. Some transactions involve ego states other than the Adult. Structural Diagram This leads us to Parent — Child transactions, which are almost as simple as Adult-Adult transactions.

Quoting Dr. The Parent of the mother acknowledges this stimuli, and then gives the water to the child. This is nearly as simple as an Adult-Adult transaction. One of the tools used by a Transactional Analysis practitioner is a structural diagram, as represented on the left.

A structural diagram represents the complete personality of any individual. It includes the Parent, Adult, and Child ego states, all separate and distinct from each other. Child interacting with a Parent Transactional Analysts will then construct a diagram showing the ego states involved in a particular transaction. The transaction to the right shows a Parent — Child transaction, with the Child ego state providing the transactional stimulus, and the Adult responding with the transactional response.

So far, the two transactions described can be considered complementary transactions. In a complementary transaction, the response must go back from the receiving ego state to the sending ego state. For example, a person may initiate a transaction directed towards one ego state of the respondent.

Berne, these transactions are healthy and represent normal human interactions. In those cases, the transaction is classified as a crossed transaction. In a crossed transaction, an ego state different than the ego state which received the stimuli is the one that responds. The diagram to the right shows a typical crossed transaction. It is important to note that when analyzing transactions, one must look beyond what is being said. Berne, one must look at how the words are being delivered accents on particular words, changes in tone, volume, etc.

Transactional Analysts will pay attention to all of these cues when analyzing a transaction and identifying which ego states are involved.

The importance of these non-verbal cues can be understood by considering the work of Dr. Albert Mehrabian. One can see that facial expressions play a far more important role in communication and thus, Transactional Analysis than the actual words exchanged. Berne went on to discuss other types of transactions, but those will not be discussed here. Once a reasonable understanding of ego states and Transactional Analysis has been achieved, the games as described in Games People Play can be understood at a whole new level.

Berne went on to refine his theories beyond Games People Play. Some of these works can be seen in the Bibliography. Berne introduced the idea of strokes into Transactional Analysis based upon the work of Rene Spitz, a researcher who did pioneering work in the area of child development. Spitz observed that infants deprived of handling — in other words, not receiving any strokes — were more prone to emotional and physical difficulties.

These infants lacked the cuddling, touching, and handling that most other infants received. Berne postulated that adults need need physical contact just like infants, but have learned to substitute other types of recognition instead of physical stimulation.

So while an infant needs cuddling, an adult craves a smile, a wink, a hand gesture, or other form of recognition. Berne defined the term recognition-hunger as this requirement of adults to receive strokes.


Transactional analysis



Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy


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