Transactional Analysis


Eric Berne define Transactional Analysis as “a theory of personality and social action, and a clinical method of psychotherapy, based on the analysis of all possible transactions between two or more people, on the basis of specifically defined ego states into a finite number of established types.” (Eric Berne, 1975, “What Do You Say After You Say Hello”, London, Corgi.)

Berne proposed that anything that happens between two or more people could be broken down into a series of single transactions from a specific ego states. A ‘transaction’ consisting of a singular stimulus and a single response, verbal or nonverbal from one person to another. It is called a ‘transaction’ because each party gains something by it and that is why s/he engages in it.

Transactional Analysis is, as its names states, an analysis of these transactions.

“Any system or approach” Berne asserted, “which is not based on the rigorous analysis of single transactions into their component specific ego states is not transactional analysis.” (Eric Berne, 1975, “What Do You Say After You Say Hello”, London, Corgi.)

Transactional Analysis, therefore, can be use in any field where there is a need for understanding individuals, relationships, communication and systems.

For example TA can be used as a system of psychotherapy. The ego states in social interaction can be observed for the individual to understand the structure of his/her personality, which can then be altered to make life changes for that individual.

Equally TA can be used to observe the transactions between, say, teacher and pupil, giving insight into where the relationship is lost and how better communication can be achieved that facilitates the teaching.