For those who came of age after the 70’s, Transactional Analysis is probably not even on the radar screen. TA, known for the widespread memes of ‘I’m OK – You’re OK,’ ‘Inner Child,’ ‘Life Scripts,’ and ‘Games People Play,’ had a profound impact on personal growth, psychotherapy, and even the EST seminars which have morphed over time into Forum and Landmark. TA is one of the Communication Models I was studying when I gave the name Communication Modeling to the profession of learning how to make work and personal relationships successful.
Just today in a life-coaching session I rediscovered what it is that I love so much about TA.
My client wants to design a life in which she will be happy. We talk about what is going on now in her life, including visits to her family, which provide insight also into her past.
With TA language, and the knowledge about how we develop our individual personalities against a backdrop of family and culture, I could speak directly to and about the Child, and the Parent and Adult, that form a whole grownup personality. The profound realizations, the next steps for my client as the resourceful woman she is, the understanding of how things make sense from a Child point of view, open doors to designing that life that she wants to lead.
The issues that block her are very clear and workable from this perspective. She can own complete responsibility for her actions and what she wants while I can provide new information that she did not receive the first time around.
Her grownup self can take care of her child self in such a way that she keeps the best of her early parenting and adds new aspects that give her consistent internal support.
Rather than getting caught up in the stories about the others in her life and how they are treating her, we can work from the center out. She can see the concentric circles of how she recreates old patterns. And she can learn what to do about it.
TA is known for simple, direct language. But it is not simplistic; it is understandable and recognizable to real human beings. It takes a decent amount of training to be good with TA, as with anything. It aims at high ideals, at healthy development, ok-ok relationships, autonomy and interdependence.
Although TA did not get a lasting foothold in academic psych, it is being taught and learned by people and helping professionals around the world. Perhaps the people who establish standards for counseling and psychotherapy – not to mention life coaching -are missing out on a major stepping stone when they overlook TA.
The USA Transactional Analysis association is launching introductory TA trainings around the country, as well as co-sponsoring a conference on Redecision Therapy and TA in November in New Orleans (go to www.redecisionconference.org for more info.).
As a coach, therapist, counselor… or modeler of communication, it’s worth checking out.