 Critically Evaluate Core Transactional Analysis (T.a) Concepts and Practice

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  • Topic: Transactional analysis, Psychotherapy, Karpman drama triangle
  • Pages : 11 (4271 words )
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  • Published : October 23, 2011
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* Critically evaluate core Transactional Analysis (T.A) concepts and practice * Assess personal and professional learning from this module.

The first part of this essay starts by outlining the key concepts of T.A.; its assumptions, theory of personality and ego-states, transactions, strokes, games and the Karpman Drama Triangle, life scripts and existential life positions. It then goes onto critically evaluate core T.A. concepts and practice from the perspective of Humanistic, Cultural, Integrative and Behavioural approaches. T.A. is a Humanistic psychotherapeutic approach formulated in the 1950s by Canadian psychiatrist Eric Berne who initially trained as a Freudian analyst. T.A. can be defined as ‘a systematic tool for personal growth and development’ (Sani & Karim 2005) and rests on three basic philosophical assumptions; people are intrinsically OK, everyone has the ability to think and individuals have freedom of choice and responsibility for these choices. (Stewart & Joines 1987) Berne’s (1961) Theory of Personality is the foundation of T.A. which proposes individuals experience and reveal their personality predominantly through three ego states, labelled Parent (P), Adult (A) and Child (C) to represent their characteristics. The Structural model of Personality (Berne 1961) illustrates the content of each ego state and the Functional model illustrates its process; in Parent ego-state, ‘the person may behave, think and feel in ways ‘borrowed’ uncritically from..parents/parent figures’, in Child ‘the person may regress to ways of behaving, thinking and feeling which he used when he was a child’ and in Adult ‘the person is behaving, thinking and feeling in response to what is going on around him here and now.’ (Stewart 1996:4) Stuart (1996) believes the basic idea of the ego-state model is through observation you can reliably judge whether someone is responding to the present or replaying patterns from past experiences. In T.A therapy communication between the therapist/client is analysed as varying forms of transactions, which is termed transactional analysis proper. A transaction is defined as ‘a unit of social intercourse’ (Berne 1964) with transactions occurring in everyday life in all interpersonal communication. Complementary transactions leading to smooth communication and having ‘a quality of expectedness about them’ (Stewart & Joines 1987:60) i.e. C/P, P/C, A/A, Crossed transactions resulting in a break in communication and occurring when ‘the ego-state addressed is not the one which responds’ (ibid:63) and Ulterior transactions having two messages, an overt social level message and covert psychological level message, the behavioural outcome always being determined at the psychological level. Berne believed all humans experience certain hungers, stimulus-hunger being the need for mental and physical stimulation and recognition hunger being the need for acknowledgement from others (Stewart & Joines 1987). In T.A. transactions are used to gain strokes and satisfy recognition hunger, a stroke being defined as ‘a unit of recognition’ (ibid:72) necessary for individuals physical and emotional well-being. If positive strokes are not achieved, childhood strategies may be implemented to gain negative or painful strokes as strokes are vital for survival, following the principle ‘any stroke is better than no stroke at all’ (ibid:73). The acquiring of negative strokes often entails what T.A. terms games which are ‘a rich source of recognition’ (Steiner 1974:37). Steiner (1974) believes the focus of T.A. is what goes on between people rather than inside people, with interactions often being destructive and controlling. Berne (1964) defines a game as an;

‘ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well defined, predictable outcome’..with... ‘two chief characteristics..their ulterior quality and..the payoff.’ (ibid:44) The original game in Berne’s (1964) concept of games...