Transactional Analysis

Transactional Analysis


Eric Berne founded Transactional Analysis and the treatment method has developed from the initial theory which is based on the use of ego states, transactional analysis proper and time structuring. The analysis explains that the ego is how we have experienced the world and how we relate ourselves to those around us. We have a Parent ego state which behaves as the parental figures that we experienced as children. The adult ego state is the processing centre of our being which is not connected to the past but the present reality. There is also a child ego state that plays back the experiences that we had as children. By looking at these three egos psychotherapy can dispel the issues in our personal lives and relationships. Transactional Analysis consists of personality therapy and interactional therapy, based on the idea that the decisions we make are the result of past premises.

Goals of Transactional Analysis

The purpose of Transactional Analysis is to define awareness within the client and their stance on intimacy with others. Autonomy is the focus of treatment and when the patients have achieved this they also have the power to make new decisions that are unlike the choices they were making before. TA empowers the client and changes their lives by recognizing the Parent, Adult and Child ego. Individuals will learn how to remain in control of their behavior by identifying the actions that shaped them as a child. Focusing mainly on early decisions it is set apart from other treatment methods because it creates goals and describes to the patient how they alter their current stance.

When is Transactional Analysis Used?

Therapy is used toward patients who have difficulty making current decisions or maintaining relationships as a result of the behavior they learned as a child, which has shaped their Parent ego. Being that Transactional Analysis is a universal language that approaches the feelings and motives within an individual, the client base is broad. This can help patients in any situation by first understanding what is going on with the individual and then providing them with a clear understanding as to why they have adopted the current ago states. Each client has suffered from the ego states that they have learned which is why the therapy enables smooth communication and the forming of healthy relationships.

How Transactional Analysis Works

Transactional Analysis works by focusing on the patient's ability to think for themselves after providing a neutral stance in the Parent, Adult and Child ego. The counselor is going to teach the client how they can begin communicating with a neutral mindset instead of alter ego states that were determined during childhood. The therapist is going to teach the patient how to respond in a Child to Parent manner instead of Parent to Child. Attention will first be focused on the relationship that the client had with their parent or guardians and then it will be discussed in a constructive manner.

The counselor will address the Parent Ego state by taking note of the patient's physical responses such as impatient expressions and judgmental works. When diagnosing the Child State the patient may express sadness and despair or teasing and whining. When the Child Ego comes out in a verbal manner their words may consist of baby talk and superlatives, which will also be addressed by the counselor. The Adult ego is the part of the client that is non-threatening and interested in the activity. They will make sense of situations in a neutral stance instead of taking a biased standpoint when speaking or reacting.

Although there is no guideline that the Ego State must abide by during therapy there is a way to approach life in a balanced manner which is conducted to the client in an adult to adult and trusted relationship with the therapist. This works effectively as a treatment method because it is a language that focuses on feelings, motive behind those feelings and actual meaning. After the sessions have been finished the client will have a thorough understanding of what shaped their egos and why the new adopted states are needed in order to maintain relationships. The patient will learn how to create relations and communicate with others so that it is not the result of what they learned as a child. Through personality theory, communication models and the observance of behavior patterns the counselor can verify what changes need to be made toward the ego so that it can be presented in a neutral manner.

Criticism of Transactional Analysis

Transactional Analysis is used often in group sessions for those who would like to explore their states and experiment with new ones by interacting with others. There are some critics who claim that TA may not be effective if the individual is not being open and honest during the session.


Transactional analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Transactional analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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