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julia tolley psychotherapist and counsellor, halesowen, west midlands
Julia Tolley provides Supervision and Integrative therapy to professional psychotherapists

Transactional Analysis


Transactional Analysis (TA) can be defined as many things, first and foremost it is a philosophy that begins with the belief that each of us is fundamentally OK whilst also expressing a point of view and a description of people which gives us an understanding to the structure of personality.

Woollams and Brown (1978) describe it as "An ever-expanding system of related techniques designed to help people understand and change their feelings and behaviors."

Eric Berne began to develop the theory of TA before 1958 when he had his first articles published containing the principles of TA and its concepts. His first book Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy was published in 1961. This laid out a theory of personality and interpersonal relationships, in all his works extended over thirty - two years including seven books and fifty articles, transcripts and papers (Stewart 1992).

Berne described TA primarily as "a unified system of individual and social psychiatry", because of his extensive work within the psychiatric community both working with individuals and groups. In its strictest sense the term transactional analysis was used by Berne to denote the analysis of transactions. In his book Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy 1961 he described TA as “Structural and transactional analysis that offers a systematic, consistent theory of personality and social dynamics derived from clinical experience, and an actionistic, rational form of therapy which is suitable for, easily understood by, and naturally adapted to the great majority of psychiatric patients".

TA Today (Stewart & Joines 1987) describe TA as defined by the ITAA (International Transactional Analysis Association) as "a theory of psychotherapy for personal growth and personal change". Stewart and Joines go on to say it is a theory of personality which uses a three part model known as the ego state model, which helps us understand how people function and express their personality in terms of behaviour.

Briefly TA also provides us with a theory of communication, it gives a method for analysing systems and organisations. It also offers a theory of child development, it offers life script explaining how are influenced by our history and the decisions we make about ourselves, others and the world because of that. It offers explanations as to how we continue to repeat patterns of behaviour that may be self-defeating.