Transactional Analysis

Transactional Analysis Basic Concepts

The Transactional Analysis approach to counselling belongs to the Psychoanalytical School of therapy and was devised by Eric Berne a Canadian psychiatrist in the late 1940’s.
Berne who had studied the work of Sigmund Freud tried in 1949 to join the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute but was rejected, so he went on to develop his own interpretation of Freud’s ideas which he called Transactional Analysis, or T.A. for short.
Berne wanted to develop a therapy which was easier for the general public to understand, using ‘Layman’s terms’  he went on to write a number of influential books one of which was called ‘The Games People Play’ which is still popular today, 25 years after it was first published.
The theory of TA is (on the surface) is quite simple, Berne believed that people have difficulty in their lives due to how the communicate and interact with others.
He believed that human beings have three distinct attitudes or states of mind which he called Ego States these are;

  1. Parent (behaving in ways which we learn and react out our parent’s behaviour as adults)
  2. Adult (using logic and evidence to guide our behaviour, not becoming emotional)
  3. Child   (replaying childish behaviours as adults)

The key features the Transactional Analysis Approach are –

The goal of TA is to help clients develop their Adult Ego State and enhance their communications with other people.

Click the links below for in-depth, simple explanations of Eric Berne and other, Theories of TA  such as;-




Clients are encouraged to undertake homework to assess how the therapy is working for them.
The therapist Analyses your past and how it effect the here and now which is why it is known as an Active Directive form of therapy
TA therapist  believe that past life events ( things that happened maybe in childhood) hold the key to understanding what our present difficulties are . This is known in TA therapy as the presenting past.

Related pages

Ego States explained