Transactional Analysis concepts

Transactional Analysis or TA is a great way of understanding yourself and how you relate to the rest of the world. It uses simple concepts to help you understand your personality. People use it in many ways, eg to work out why they keep getting into difficult relationships, or why relationships keep stalling. They find interpersonal issue that previously seemed unchangeable can become freer, less scary or less upsetting. Some people use it in work or schools, or even to change an entire organisation. It can go deep into childhood or you can stay in the here and now to analyse your own behaviour, thoughts and feelings.

My training was based in this model of understanding personality and human relationships developed by Eric Berne. Whilst I have added other models and approaches to my work, I still enjoy the simplicity and thoroughness of TA. There are 3 youtube videos by Theramin Trees which explain the basic concepts. Books on TA cover a huge range of topics, too numerous to mention.

Conversation with Pat Ogden on body posture

A conversation between Pat Ogden of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute and Serge Prengel.   I like the way Pat speaks about the body and I feel like my way of working has some crossover with hers (although I have not trained at her Institute). I also run workshops on Body Language and non-verbal expression (see The Human Cry)

Pat Ogden: How body posture and movement can influence well-being

This is one of a series of interviews or conversations as Serge prefers to call them. I think he is an excellent interviewer who skilfully summarises what he is hearing and often helps the subject to open up and share what needs to be shared. See also https://somaticperspectives.com/

Relational therapy

We all live continuously in relation; to others and to ourselves – we are created and shaped by our experiences of others and thus our complex and layered personality structure is formed. Therapy allows us to learn more about the workings of our unique structure and to work through problems – in relation. Relational therapy pays attention to our relationship (you and me, in the moment) as a way to observe in real time how we are reacting to being with another person. We can also then observe what is happening internally; our relationship(s) to ourself(selves).

We may look into the past or think about the future, but there are many clues in the here and now, in what happens between us. How you are in the world and what you want from life can be explored in the safe space we create each week, through openness, compassion and non-judgemental exploration.

Katherin Stauffer talks about sex and power

I want to share this article because I enjoyed it and also because I think the current debate about sexual harassment is an important one. Serge Prengle is an excellent moderator of discussions and his conversations series is a useful resource for those wishing to learn about body/somatic psychotherapies.

She says; “In cases of abuse the shame that should be with the perpetrator gets transferred to the person who has been abused.” It’s a simple but important thing, a helpful reminder that part of the abuse is this co-creating of shame. This involves or invests the vulnerable party in the creation of a protector for the abuser. It maintains and reinforces the power imbalance.

Then she goes on to say sometimes there is an attempt to return this shame – for the abused person to try to shame the abuser. Which, whilst understandable and perhaps important, rarely helps either party. My question as a therapist is often – what will be helpful?

Kathrin Stauffer reflects on sex & power

 

Creativity

Creative acts can be transformative and creativity can be key to problem solving.

People speak of feeling entirely changed by the arts. Books, music and culture help shape our thoughts and articulate our feelings, often because they can operate outside of our logical brain, closer to the subconscious. But as well as the obviously artistic activities, many of our  moment-by-moment behaviours, choices and responses require creativity. As we decide what to do, or how to respond, our subconscious works to keep us safe and avoid things it has learned to fear.  As babies we learned through play and experience. Some of those lessons may have served us ok as children, but may now be holding us back. Creative thinking and creative play can help us contact those deeply held beliefs and feelings in a way that rational discussion can sometimes simply cannot access.

It’s not about artistic expression. It’s about engaging more than the cognitive imagination and helping the subconscious to merge into consciousness. Sometimes words and the rational mind need to sink into the background or soften their rational grip. This gives room for a more open perspective or relaxes the rigidity of thinking that may be needed for change to occur.

Sometimes we need to be creative in order to find a way to express or explore our thoughts, feelings or actions.

Sometimes clients and I make drawings or diagrams to represent or catch something elusive. We may come back to these scribbles and schema to help us remember the themes and layers of previous sessions. Patterns appear, symbols speak and feelings become more meaningful.

Sometimes we lay out objects to illustrate tangled relationships or a complex set of feelings. This enables a perspective, or multiple perspectives to be seen, to be layered…. and even to be challenged.

Sometimes we may need to stand tall, curl up, walk around the room or jump up and down. By changing ourselves physically we may allow different psychological perspectives to emerge.

I believe that we are all creative, through necessity. In times of distress, crisis or chaos our creativity can be soothing and so helpful.

And of course it can add humour, fun, relief or distraction where needed.

Therapy or counselling

What is the difference between therapy and counselling?

Opinions differ but I feel like therapy and counselling often overlap and I find in my work that I do both.

I understand counselling as essentially a listening process, through which people gain perspective, find a voice and share their experiences without judgement or criticism. This process can be illuminating, empowering or cathartic. Sometimes sharing your story is a first step toward changing the narrative.

In therapy the client works towards a process of change. This may involve explorations and insights, it may involve discoveries and challenges. But the process should be held safely by the therapist and the direction or purpose of change should be agreed and understood by the client, usually through an agreed contract.

In simple terms, counselling tends to be shorter, often focussed on one particular issue, whereas therapy may take longer and be more open to exploration.

Feel free to ask for clarification if you are not sure. The first session is a good time to ask questions.

Transactional Analysis

TA is a popular form of talking therapy devised by Dr. Eric Berne, initially as a way to work with people suffering severe disturbance. He then went on to make it into an accessible system for exploring and understanding personality and how people relate to each other. TA is commonly used in individual or group therapy, working with children or whole schools, in couples counselling and a variety of settings. A key feature for many TA therapists is that they are able to share their method with their clients (if they wish), who then has the same tools to support them in everyday life. Often appreciated for it’s clarity and flexibility it forms deeper understanding of the self. As a solid base for me it allows freedom to add other techniques and approaches too.

It is a humanistic and compassionate theory that supports people to improve their relationships, their work life and or their personal anxieties and neuroses. I have also used it to explore childhood issues, loss, love and sex.

See basic concepts