What is Transactional Analysis

Transactional analysis is a psychoanalytic system developed by Eric Berne. It includes a set of principles and models associated within social intercourse, measured in social transactions. Transactional analysis seeks to understand the ego states that people take on during interchange and different ego states interact in activities such as games and pastimes.

Concepts

Ego states

Observation of social interaction has shown that people show changes in their behaviour, attitudes and states of mind that display contrast with one another. Transactional analysis calls these ego states

Transactional analysis involves three main ego states

  • The Parent Ego State: This state is emulative of the mindsets of our caregiver and teachers. It involves two subset ego states; the nurturing parent and the critical parent, giving care and critical feedback respectively. The parent can be protective, caring and helpful or overbearing, scolding and controlling
  • The Adult Ego state: This state is rational ego state. It deals with facts and rationally observe its environment and situation. It is directed towards the objective analysis of present experience. Much of transactional analysis therapy involves the strengthening and improvement of this ego state
  • The Child Ego State: this state is reflective of the behaviours exhibited by young children. It contains another two subsets ego states; the free child and the adapted child. The free child is creative, spontaneous, silly and rebellious. The adapted child, however, has learned to change their behaviour to complement the demands of the parent/caregiver.

People will adopt different states at different times and will interact with other people by appealing to the other person’s ego states. For example, someone in need of help and guidance may approach another for help in the child ego state and appeal to the parent ego state of the other, a transactional stimulus. Then the other may respond by assuming the parental ego state to either nurture or criticise the presenting child, a transactional response. This would be known as a smooth or complementary transaction. Both players, agent and respondent, are assuming the positions requested from one another. However, sometimes the agent will receive a response from the other player that does not correspond with their stimulus and this can result in a crossed transaction. For example, the stimulus could be Adult to adult and the response could be that of a Child-Parent.

Transactional analysis also recognises that what occurs on a social level does not always match what is happening psychologically and so identifies these within transactions as separate levels. This is called an ulterior transaction

Games

Games are a set of patterns that we engage in, both emotionally and physically. There are many different types of games and are repetitive by nature. Each game is a set of predictable ulterior transactions that lead to a certain set of payoffs, motivated by a person’s gimmick. In many cases, people are often unaware that they are even playing these games as the patterns are learned from a maladaptive childhood. By understanding the payoff to a game, we can start to understand why games are played by people

Here are two of Berne’s games that he outlined:

  • “If it weren’t for you” game: When describing this game, Berne gives tells a story of Mrs And Mr. White. Mrs White (Agent) complains that her husband (Respondent), being restrictive on her behaviours, is the reason she has never learned to dance, even though she has always wanted to. However, she later finds that she has a lot of fear surrounding the activity. Mrs White, realising that she has married a domineering man, begins to use ‘If it weren’t for you’ as a way of not facing her fears. This gives her the payoff of both not having to face a fear of her and as well to defer responsibility for this, and Mr. White gets the payoff of having his wife around more. The game will come perpetuate until one player stops playing the game and Mrs. White will then have to face her phobic situation
  • ‘Why don’t you – Yes but’ game: this game was the first game outlined in transactional analysis and is very common. It involves an agent stating a problem for the respondent to solve, but upon each suggestion, the agent responds back with a ‘Yes but …’ answer, stimulating the other to continue to try and solve the agent’s problem. On a social level, this would appear as an Adult-Adult transaction, but on the psychological level, the agent is get the respondent to play the role as parent. Here, by logically rejecting any suggestions put forward by the Parent, the agent gets to keep their child from being vulnerable. The payoff here, is the silence which follows the end of these suggestions, demonstrating that the parent is inadequate. However, in Why don’t you – Yes but, the parent never wins.

Life Scripts

A life script is an idea that a person may have for their life. Seeing our lives and experiences as narratives, we often have it set out in our mind; who we are, where are we going, why we are here etc. This narrative will affect how we view the world and, how we interact with it. Understanding someone’s life script can show us where some of our attitudes and feelings may come from. Our life scripts are influenced greatly in childhood and is adapted as we experience life and grow and individuals. Our life script will also influence our life position.

Life positions

A life position in a viewpoint on our beliefs on ourselves and others. Life positions are used to justify and contextualise our thoughts and behaviours. In Transactional Analysis, there are four life positions:

  • I’m not okay, you’re okay: This is a position held in childhood. Children see themselves as dependent and in need of help and nurturing to survive. This is true for very young children. This life position however leads to a sense of inadequacy for the Child and an undervaluation of the child’s worth.
  • I’m not okay, you’re not okay: This life position will have people in despair. It will make people feel helpless and will struggle to find motivation to do things. They will feel stuck in their own inadequacies and will feel that people will not be able to help them progress either.
  • I’m okay, you’re not okay: This position will have people holding superiority over others. People in the position may show a smugness and may knock others down, belittling their efforts and commenting on other people’s inadequacies. This putting down of others can lead to a rejection from peers.
  • I’m okay, you’re okay: This position is a winning position. We see both ourselves and others as basically good and that we are making good progress towards the future. People in this position will be cooperative and helpful to others.

Strengths of Transactional Analysis

  • Transactional analysis challenges clients to be more aware of their decisions. This will in turn lead to more competency with future life events. It also provides a working models and strategies for clients and therapists alike to approach their improvement
  • A core philosophy of Transactional analysis is that people have the capacity to think, and therefore can take responsibility for their scripts and positions, and can therefore decide their own destiny

Limitation of Transactional Analysis

  • The concepts in transactional analysis while communicated with quite simple language, deal with complex ideas. Effects of the work within the transactional analysis environment may be dependent on one’s own ideas of the concepts and how deep one can go with them

What is Person-Centered Counselling

This is a model proposed by Carl Rogers. It involves allowing the client to speak freely while the therapist actively listens to them, reflecting and conveying understanding when appropriate. It is held that the organismic self, the natural self, is seeking to heal itself and that given the opportunity to explore their issues, people will come to therapeutic change. Rogers’ states in his book On Becoming A Person: “it is the client who knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences have been deeply buried”.

Concepts

Core conditions

Carl Rogers developed the idea of the ‘necessary and sufficient’ conditions for therapeutic change. These core conditions are to be held in the therapy sessions throughout as to foster and develop a space where the client will be comfortable to explore their issues.

The core conditions of the person-centred therapy are:

  • Psychological Contact: This condition states that the therapist must be present in their relationship with the client. For this, the therapist will practice true active listening as a skill.
  • Empathy: The therapist shares their empathic understanding through reflection of the client’s experience and recognises their emotional experience without getting emotionally involved their self, as in sympathy
  • Congruence: The therapist is to be honest and genuine with himself and the client as well as practicing awareness of self and other.
  • Unconditional Positive regard: The client’s experience and perspectives should be received and accepted without judgement. This allows the client to proceed without experiencing someone else’s idea surrounding their experience so they can focus on their own. It also allows the therapist to truly be present with the client.
  • Client experience of incongruence: The client experiences incongruence between their perceptions and their experience. This will lead to healing and a striving towards becoming congruent in their self.
  • Client perception: The conditions above are perceived by the client and can therefore foster a relationship of openness and trust.

If these conditions are met, Roger’s believed that people would begin to heal themselves and start to self-actualise.

Self-actualising tendency

“The organism has one basic tendency and striving – to actualize, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism.” [Carl Rogers (2012). “Client Centred Therapy (New Ed)”, p.353, Hachette UK]

Deep within Person-centred counselling is the idea of self-actualisation. This idea was put forward by Abraham Maslow. Maslow proposed people have a hierarchy of needs; that our needs are prioritised via necessity. Atop the hierarchy is the idea of self-actualisation, when a person develops towards their full potential. This will lead them to seek experiences they enjoy, explore and develop themselves as people and get satisfaction out of life. If this tendency leads to the person achieving actualisation, they will become what Rogers describes as a fully functioning person. A fully functioning person will display the following traits:

  • An openness to experience and an accurate perception of their subjective reality
  • They will understand the importance of living in the present, understanding that the past is just memories and the future is yet to happen.
  • A trust in their own organismic self and nature; trusting their own thoughts and feelings
  • A recognition of their own person freedom and the responsibility that comes along with that free to make correct and valuable decisions
  • Provides a creative contribution to the world through their vocation, relationships or artistic pursuit

Conditions of worth

As we grow up, we can learn that love and positive regard from others in often not unconditional, but conditional to another person’s value system. Our families, social circles, teachers, leaders and media all give us ideals to live to and values in turn determine how we are rewarded and how valuable we are seen to be. Conditions of worth congruent with our own value systems are good for helping us be people we see as valuable ourselves. However, it can be the case that these values are introjected, meaning that we can be holding our own value to what someone else thinks, not ourselves. This is an example of personal incongruence and can lead us to be untrue to ourselves and our nature.

Strengths of the Person-Centred Model of Counselling:

  • The Therapeutic Alliance – Person centred therapy focuses on having a strong therapeutic alliance with client and therapist. This is through the fostering of the necessary and sufficient conditions for therapeutic change – Being non-judgemental, employing accurate empathy and authenticity are great conditions that a therapist can employ in any form of therapy
  • Positive view of development – the idea that people can develop and heal through self-direction. This perspective help people to become more trusting of their organismic self and lead to more self-reliant and independent persons.

Limitations of the Person-Centred Model of Counselling

  • Therapist reliant on not strategy reliant as the model tends to lack structure, more-so reliant on the therapist upholding the core conditions and the personality of the therapist. This can be quite difficult in situations where empathy and unconditional positive regard are difficult, such as when working people who are abusers
  • Lack of intervention – Not asking questions and lack of leading or offering advice may leave some clients wanting for direction or opinion. Other models that involve interventions highlight solutions to incongruence and techniques for changing undesired behaviour rather than relying on the onus and initiative of the client.

Hello and Welcome

I‘ve wanted to start this blog for a while. One to keep. One to share. I now feel like I’m ready to make this become what it’s meant to become. Thank you to everyone who supports me in what I do and my vision. I appreciate each and every one of you. You know who you are

Hello! My name is Jonathan Pointer. When I was a teenager, I had a lot of anger. That anger led me to find knowledge. Knowledge that would help me find a way to balance myself and gain stability and control. Psychology and therapeutic techniques would lead show me how I could take control of my mind by conscious use of my will. This would continue and, in times of hardship, I would turn again to psychological knowledge and practices. Eventually, I began to feel the power of self-transformation and would begin to attempt more and more to see just how much I could transform myself.

There came a point, while at University, where I was seeking more purpose in life. Through doing various practices; psycho-therapeutic techniques (e.g. CBT), meditation, NLP, and other techniques through various books and teachers, I gaining more and more control on my own psychology, mindsets and ambitions. My experiences led me to become aware of the suffering in others and how that suffering was breeding. Breeding through mental neurosis, breeding through hatred and contempt, breeding through helplessness and grandiosity. I wanted to help and found myself seeing this knowledge before me and the potential that lay withing sharing that information and helping others through the process. I began sharing with people and noticing that the information held power in the hands of those that wished to make the change within themselves, but that being faced with your shortcomings can be painful and it is often much easier to push things away, as we often do. Through unconditional support, I feel we can face this pain with much more courage, and that change is achievable and can even be quick. If that change is sustained over time consistently, that change can be embedded deep in our mind and habits will form. Transformation has occurred. I noticed this pattern happen again and again in myself and others and decided that I wanted to make a difference in the world by helping people with transformation, healing their traumas and find a higher position to live their lives.

Why do this?

  • Because through learning how to transform your life, you can learn how to solve problems efficiently, including thoughts and behaviors that lead to problems.
  • Understanding your mind can lead you to a greater level of intelligence, wisdom and serenity. You can learn faster, remember more, hold more compassion and virtues and communicate more honestly and effectively
  • Through understanding ourselves, we begin to understand others more. This helps us develop stronger, more understanding, more loving relationships.
  • Through processing your traumas by grieving, you can come to terms with the dark-side of life. Loss and traumatic events can shake us to our core and prevent us from gaining peace and enjoyment in life. As we deal with these traumas, we can find peace once again.
  • If more and more people find the path to healing, the world’s accumulated trauma and woes will diminish and the world will become a better place to live in. Malevolence breeds from pain and if more people take the time to heal themselves, they are doing a service to all others in mankind as they will reduce the harm they inflict on others through their own mistakes.

This blog is going to involve sharing ideas and concepts and my exploration of them. My aim is to write in a way that makes these ideas easy to understand and to apply. It may take a while for me to develop content but once that content is developed I will make the content more accessible through refine the blog and also developing videos for the content.

Thank you for joining me in this journey, I hope that this will educate, entertain and elevate us. Please get in touch. I would love to hear your thoughts and I will answer questions to the best of my abilities.

Here are some questions for you:

  • Are there any questions you have regarding your life and ways you want to transform and heal?
  • Have you had any experiences that you have had to that have shaped the way you live?
  • What would you be doing right now if you could remove the resistance of your own flaws and shortcomings?
  • What world would you like to live in?
  • How could you reflect that more within yourself?