Transactional Analysis Therapy and the Role of the Counselor

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  • 0:01 Eric Berne
  • 0:54 The Philosophy of TA
  • 2:31 Role of the Counselor
  • 4:22 Strengths & Limitations
  • 5:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

Eric Berne was influenced by traditional psychoanalytic theory and neuroscience in his creation of transactional analysis. This lesson explores the therapeutic relationship in transactional analysis and describes this user friendly form of therapy.

Eric Berne

Let's meet a young psychiatrist by the name of Eric Berne. During his early career, Berne was influenced by both Freud's psychoanalytic theory and the work of a neurosurgeon, Dr. Wilder Penfield.

Although he didn't completely agree with Freud's model, Berne saw merit in Freud's view of multiple states of consciousness. He was also intrigued by Dr. Penfield's experiments that demonstrated the process in which the human brain could record, recall, and replay past experiences and associated feelings. Berne began to develop his theory of transactional analysis, or TA, as he applied these ideas to his own work.

The definition of transactional analysis that is suggested by the International Transactional Analysis Association describes TA as a theory of personality and a systematic psychotherapy for personal growth and personal change.

The Philosophy of TA

Transactional analysis embraces a positive view of human nature. Some basic assumptions are:

  • All people are important and their concerns are valid.
  • All people should be treated as equals and with respect.
  • With a few exceptions, all people have the ability to think as adults.
  • All people decide their own destiny and can make changes to it.

From these assumptions, TA creates a form of therapy that is not only problem-oriented, but also goal-oriented. It aims to free the client from maladaptive patterns of behavior based on past thinking. In doing so, they will be able to choose a new direction in life. In fact, the basic goal of transactional analysis is to help clients make new decisions about their current behavior and change the direction their lives are taking. In other words, a person will learn to write his own life story instead of allowing it to be written for him.

Transactional analysis should help clients gain both cognitive and emotional insight into their problems. Let's look at an example.

John does not think people like him. The emotional sides of this are his feelings of depression and low self-esteem. He has become discouraged with personal interaction because of these feelings. The cognitive aspect of John's situation is that his avoidance of personal interaction prevents others from having the opportunity to like him. If John can stop choosing to avoid others, he will most likely find someone with whom he can develop a relationship, and this will improve his emotional health.

Role of the Counselor

In transactional analysis, the counselor and the client work together to establish the specific goals of therapy. In other words, the counselor will use his knowledge to address a concern introduced by the client rather than telling the client what issues he needs to focus on.

The process of treatment in transactional analysis centers on this collaboration. In fact, an actual written contract is often used. This TA contract is an expressed agreement between the client and counselor about the desired goal and what the treatment process will consist of.

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