Understanding Ourselves

Approaches to TA

There are several key approaches to TA which together form the majority of theories and models used in TA Psychotherapy and Counselling;

The Classical School
This is the earliest view of TA as developed by Eric Berne and his immediate associates such as Steiner, Karpman, Ernst & English. Key TA concepts such as egos states, ego state contamination & exclusion, games, life script and contracting were all established by this pioneering group.

Integrative TA
In this approach to TA psychotherapy, the therapeutic relationship is valued as a way for our client to have new and satisfying experiences which can be integrated as part of themselves. The script system (or racket system) is a key concept as are attunement, relational needs and interpersonal contact.
Key figures in the development of integrative TA were Erskine, Trautmann & Moursund.

Relational TA
Since the early 1990’s TA theories which consider the impact and analysis of subconscious processes in the therapy have developed alongside modern psychoanalytic ideas. These TA theories include a model of child development which details the influence of the earliest interactions between infant and caregivers. Key names; Cornell, Hargaden, Sills, Stark & Novellino.

The Redecision School
Bob & Mary Golding took ideas from Gestalt Therapy and integrated them into core TA theory. Their key concepts were early decision & redecision, injunctions and impasse theory.

The Cathexis School
Some key TA theories developed out of work done by the Schiff’s on the area of developmental deficits. These are the powerful ideas of symbiosis, redefining, passivity, discounting & grandiosity.

Understanding Ourselves

Introducing Transactional Analysis

Transactional Analysis (or TA) is a theory of personality and communication, a set of models which describes how people are made-up, and how they behave, psychologically.

Many of TA’s key ideas were developed by Eric Berne in the 1960’s and these continue to be developed today. TA contains many models which together describe child development, how we maintain our childhood patterns in adult relationships, how we communicate and work together in groups & organisations and how we can grow and change beyond our early-life scripting.

Traditionally, TA is considered to extend to 4 ‘fields’ – psychotherapy, counselling, organisational and educational. However, skills in TA can be brought into creating and maintaining effective relationships in many professions such as policing, social work, mediation – anywhere, in fact, where we need to understand and communicate with individuals. We find too that as our knowledge and skills in TA grow we are building more satisfying relationships with our friends, family and children.


There are three philosophical assumptions of TA;

People Are OK – You and I have an intrinsic worth, an internal unchanging dignity and value which each of us may recognise in the other. Neither of us is one-up on the other, nor are we one-down and this remains true no matter what we have done or what we have been told is right or wrong. In TA we say ‘I’m OK, You’re OK’ which is a simple expression of a deeply held humanistic stance.

Everyone has the capacity to think – Which means that each of us is responsible for choosing what we need, what we do and what life will be like. This ‘thinking’ is the clear, informed, probability-based problem-solving that gets things decided, clarified and completed.

People make their own decisions and all decisions can be changed, no matter how early in life they were made – As young children, we make decisions based on how to best survive in a world dominated by our family setting. Yet these decisions are based on an incomplete view of how the world works and they’re hard to ‘reality-test’. As adults, when we follow strategies based on these early decisions our behaviours can feel dissatisfying or even self-defeating. But we can change. After gaining insight into those old patterns, those old decisions, we can make new ones which invite more effective ways of relating and being in the world.

Based on these three assumptions there are two basic principles of TA;

Using Contracts – When we work together we each take responsibility for what it is we are seeking to achieve.

Open Communication – Both client and practitioner have full information about what is happening in their work. To help with this TA keeps language simple and ideas easy to share.


How the TA World is organised

TA has an international structure. The content of TA’s introductory course (TA101) is set by The International TA Association (ITAA) and the European Association for Transactional Analysis (EATA) plays a role in governing more advanced qualifications.

In the UK, The United Kingdom Association Of Transactional Analysis (UKATA) is our national body and organises conferences & examinations as well as publishing the Transactional Analysis Journal (TAJ).

In The News

Is Your Child Stressed Out? – How to find support

Today’s report in The Independent (22nd Nov 2013) reporting that forty five per cent of children aged between 10 and 14 say they’ve been too worried to sleep, while 60 per admit to feeling anxious or sad at least once a week, is sorry news indeed.

The findings are based on research involving over 700 young people commissioned by YouGov. And, of course, the stresses of becoming a fully functioning adult in the World don’t stop after exams are complete.

‘Growing Pains’ have been around for generations but our young people face some really tough challenges around borrowing money for further education, affording adequate housing and finding a meaningful role in the world of work.

Counselling with younger people is a specialist role and finding a suitably qualified therapist is essential. UKCP keep a separate register of practitioners trained to work with children and young people and this can be found at

The BACP ‘Find a Therapist’ site  too has an option to pull up therapists who work with children or young people at .

If you are worried about your child’s emotional health ‘Young Minds’ have a Parent Helpline on 0808 802 5544 and a very useful site at .