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.
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