A Summary of Transactional Analysis

Topics: Transactional analysis, Claude Steiner, International Transactional Analysis Association Pages: 19 (7254 words) Published: February 14, 2011
By Fanita English
(From “How Did You Become a Transactional Analyst?“ Transactional Analysis Journal, Vol. 35 , #1 Jan 2005) “How did you become a transactional analyst?” I am often asked that question when I tell people what I do. I answer that originally my training as a therapist was in Freudian psychoanalysis and included eight years of personal psychoanalysis. I practiced as such for l4 years, treating both children and adults. Increasingly, the process seemed overly ponderous, time consuming and therefore not cost effective for patients, but I could find no better techniques. Then, in l965, I read Dr. Eric Berne’s (l961) "Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy” and soon after I took time off from my practice in Chicago to go to California to train with the late David Kupfer at the then recently founded Transactional Analysis Training Institute in Carmel. While there I also had many stimulating contacts with Berne and personally experienced what many, including myself, call the life-saving value of “TA”. On returning to Chicago I transformed my practice to Transactional Analysis, started doing workshops to teach this method, and have been a dedicated transactional analyst ever since, although nowadays, partially retired, I limit myself to conducting workshops in various countries. Inevitably, after finding out how I became involved, there follows a question such as: “And just what is Transactional Analysis?” Sometimes the questioner is just curious; at other times he or she is considering making a referral or perhaps signing up for a workshop or joining a TA Association. To some, I give a long answer, covering a good deal of information, with others I summarize briefly. It occurred to me it might be of use to those interested in either a long or a short version of my answer to write it down in one place, which is what I have done in this article. Whether you read carefully through the entire article or just focus on a few sections, I hope this will be of use to those who are interested in the question of what Transactional Analysis is and how it is practiced. Like many other therapies, Transactional Analysis therapy is primarily “talk therapy”. We work on the basis of a specific body of theory originally developed by Dr. Eric Berne and elaborated in various ways by others of us in the field since Berne’s premature death in l970. Berne was a practicing psychoanalyst before he developed the theory and practice of Transactional Analysis. Originally it was used in psychotherapy or treatment, as he called it, particularly in group treatment, but it soon became clear that it was also useful in a wide variety of fields, including counseling, organizational work , and education. Although Berne’s first published book, "The Mind in Action" (l947) offered a simple description of basic psychoanalytic concepts, he became increasingly critical of psychoanalytic therapy. As a result, he began the San Francisco Psychiatry Seminars (which eventually became the International Transactional Analysis Association), to teach his own approach. He also spelled out his theory in his basic books, “Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy,” (l961), “The Structure and Dynamics of Organizations and Groups,” (l963), and “What do you say after you say Hello?” (l972) the latter of which was published posthumously. By now, about 40 years later, through many books and journals and conferences around the world, several generations of transactional analysis practitioners have debated and added much to the Berne’s basic theory and practice. For my part, I have dared to offer some major modifications of Berne's concepts, particularly regarding what he called “games” and “scripts”, as well as developing a new view of what he referred to as “rackets” and racketeering. I discuss these later in this article, but before I do, I want to summarize the concepts and techniques that I consider...
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