1.1 The main theories that underpin Transactional Analysis in relation to counseling are: 1. Theory of communication. This can be applied when analyzing systems and organizations. It can be applied when working in or on, for example, a company studying the way the workforce and management communicate (or not). If all members of the company are willing to undergo scrutiny and analysis (not necessarily on a deep, personal level) become aware of ‘faults’ in their lines of communication and learn to alter limiting behaviours great progress can be made in the efficiency of the company, not only on a business efficiency level but also on a personal satisfaction or ‘happiness’ level. I have worked with business coaches and seen how this can work really well. Most organizations, corporate or otherwise, tend to operate a ‘top down’ management structure which seems to be based on fear (of those at the bottom losing their job) and control (from those at the top believing they have to keep a firm hand on the reins or staff will take advantage). The most efficient (and happy) workforces I have seen tend to be led by very enlightened and ‘hands off’ employers who are confident enough to let their employees have some autonomy. When most companies are ‘audited’ by business coaches the most frequent complaint is lack of communication. I think that probably means misunderstood, ‘contaminated’ or ‘crossed’ communication? The phrase ‘crossed wires’ is in regular usage! The need to be heard and understood by others and the skills to be able to hear and understand others seem to be paramount in maintaining trust and respect both of oneself and others, in whatever setting that is. 2. Theory of personality By using a three-part model known as the ego-state model TA can provide a structured analysis of how we function and behave. The three ego states are: Parent Adult Child
The three states are not necessarily indicative of age: a person of any age can function or behave in any of the three. Because the counselling room is such a concentrated space where transactions are at a level not normally felt outside of this setting the ego states can play a huge part in influencing progress, both by the states the counsellor and client are functioning in and by the conscious application of TA by the counsellor. In short, these transactions constantly occur, irrespective of whether or not they are recognized as a therapeutic intervention. These states will be explored later. 3. Theory of child development TA explains through the analysis of life-scripts how we have been moulded and influenced in our childhood; we have learned to play out our life according to someone else’s script. Whilst most of us function at some level influenced by our past, it can become problematic if we are ‘living a lie’, i.e. acting out the wishes and aspirations of others (our Parent figures) instead of following our own, real, deepseated drivers. Becoming aware of these false drivers and messages can be
3 enlightening and liberating. I have worked through a few myself over the years. It isn’t a matter of apportioning blame for one’s ‘wrong’ life-script, after all, as parents or Parental figures we all act and make decisions we think are right at the time. I think it’s rather a case of finding yourself in amongst the tangle of influences: adapting the ones you feel are positive and useful and letting go of the ones that ‘don’t fit’. Applying the theory of life-scripts in the counselling room seems to me to be really important and useful: I am a strong supporter of the nurture over nature school! 4. Theory of Psychopathology This describes the process of repeating unhelpful, self-defeating or damaging lifescripts, where behaviour has become pathological and, by definition, the cycle of behaviour is difficult to break. I believe that becoming...