How Transactional Analysis Can Improve Relationships

How Transactional Analysis Can Improve Relationships

How Transactional Analysis Can Improve Relationships


 – Origin of transactional analysis

 – Philosophy of transactional analysis

 – Concepts of transactional analysis

 – The ego states in TA

 – Where to learn transactional analysis?

 Interpersonal relationships bring joy but also sometimes pain. Sometimes we realize that a message would have gone across better if we had known how to express it.

 Therefore, it is essential to master the tools of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), the Enneagram, or Transactional Analysis, to improve our daily relationships.

 Origin of transactional analysis

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 In the 1950s, Eric Berne developed this method of analyzing social relationships under transactional analysis.

 Why this name? Because it is based on the analysis of “transactions” between individuals, these transactions correspond to exchanges, verbal or non-verbal, between people.

 Transactional Analysis is a personal development tool used in the psychotherapy of individuals, couples and families and has many fields of application:

 – help in the field of education;

 – undeniable support in the field of organizations;

 – clinical help;

 – social assistance.

 It can also be argued that transactional analysis is a personal and professional development technique used in both personal and professional coaching.

 Philosophy of transactional analysis

How Transactional Analysis Can Improve Relationships

 Transactional analysis is based on two basic assumptions:

 – The intrinsic value of each individual:

 ◦ Regardless of their psychological, sociological or even economic status, every person is worthy of interest, and one must recognize each person’s own value.

 ◦ This first postulate considers that everyone is “OK”, which means that everyone can be different and that we must accept every individual for what he IS, not for what he DOES.

 The ability of each individual to think and reflect allows him to adopt a new behaviour if he feels that what he is doing is not appropriate. Each person is free to decide, thanks to this capacity, what to do with his or her life.

 Transactional Analysis Concepts

How Transactional Analysis Can Improve Relationships

 The transactional analysis on which Eric Berne worked is based on several fundamental concepts:

 – The concept of transactions gave its name to the method itself.

 ◦ Transactions are exchanges between us and others, thus between several states of the self.

 ◦ By analyzing the “transactions”, we can readjust the communication methods when there seems to be a dysfunction.

 The concept of “ego state” is based on the states Child, Parent, Adult (always written with a capital letter). Eric Berne starts from the principle that “an ego state is a coherent system of thoughts and feelings highlighted by a type of behaviour”. We will summarize here, emphasizing that:

 ◦ A Child ego state is a person who reacts, feels, and acts as he or she did as a child. The Child ego is subdivided into the Free (or Spontaneous) Child and the Adapted Child.

 ◦ The Parent Ego state is when a person reacts, feels, or acts as his or her parents or a figure who exercised some authority did. The Parent Self is subdivided into the Dominator and the Protector.

 ◦ The Adult Ego state would be based more on the criteria of the person’s experience and allow him or her to act directly on the situation.

 – The concept of needs: Eric Berne based himself on the work of the medical analyst René Spitz to deduce the three fundamental needs in each of us: the need for stimulation, need for recognition and need for structure. The physiological and psychological balance of a person depends on the satisfaction of these needs.

 – The concept of “life position”: corresponds to how a person situates himself with others and himself.

 – The concept of “rackets”: Eric Berne gave the name “rackets” to “parasitic feelings”.

 ◦ The four basic feelings are sadness, joy, fear and anger.

 ◦ When a child needs to repress one feeling, he or she may develop the habit of replacing it with another.

 ◦ As he grows older, he may continue to use these “rackets” automatically, which can induce confusing and complicated relationships.

 – The concept of the “life script”: Berne considers that a child may have acquired, through the influence of his or her environment, a life script, i.e. “an unconscious life plan based on decisions made in childhood, reinforced by the parents…”. This script continues to influence some adults unconsciously.

 The concept of the “psychological game” is based on communication in the form of manipulation of the other. To satisfy their needs, children sometimes set up a scenario to get what they want from their family.

 – The concept of “autonomy”: this concept is the one that would come in opposition to the idea of the scenario, allowing the person, through an awareness of his dysfunctions, to acquire autonomy and spontaneity in his choices.

 The ego states in TA

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 A state is not a label. In a given situation, A person may go through different ego states, depending on how he or she reacts.


 A person who has a sharp pain in his chest decides to make an appointment with his doctor: Adult Self.

 – On the day of the appointment, she is afraid of having bad news and finds any pretext to cancel her appointment: Me Child.

 – A few days later, she will probably tell herself that this is not a responsible attitude and that she should take care of her health: Parent Self.

 Where to get training in transactional analysis?

How Transactional Analysis Can Improve Relationships

 Although many people are interested in transactional analysis, it is challenging to acquire a thorough knowledge of it, as it is such a demanding tool.

 In addition to books on the subject, some courses lead to certification. The American Institute of Transactional Analysis can provide you with a list of these courses.

 Transactional analysis is a valuable tool, both in terms of self-knowledge and in a therapeutic approach or the field of social psychology.

 In this sense, it is used in interpersonal communication, in the same way as NLP or the Enneagram, but also in psychotherapy and a broader sense, in all personal development methods.