What is Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy?

Transactional analysis, commonly known as TA, is an integrative model of psychotherapy. It is integrative because it incorporates psychoanalysis, humanistic and cognitive-behavioural approaches. The theory of Transactional Analysis was created by a psychiatrist called Eric Berne during the late 1950s.

Originally, his model comprised of four main components. These were:

  1. Structural Analysis (The Ego-State Model)
  2. Analysis of Transactions
  3. Game and Racket Analysis
  4. Script Analysis

TA theory has been further developed since Berne’s death and now also includes the following analytical models:

  • Drivers and The Process Model
  • Impasses and Redecisions
  • Discounting and Redefining

We share theoretical concepts with clients if we believe they will find it useful. We always work to the client’s level of understanding and interest.

If you are interested in reading more about Transactional Analysis, Stewart and Joines have written a book called TA Today, which explains TA in an easily readable format.

What is Structural Analysis (The Ego-State Model)?

Berne’s 1966 definition of an ego-state model is as follows:

That it is “a consistent pattern of feeling and experience directly related to a corresponding pattern of behaviour” (p.364).

In his model, Berne identifies three different ego-states: Parent, Adult and Child.

A person is said to be in their Parent ego-state when they are behaving, thinking and feeling in ways which they have directly copied from their parents. Similarly, they would be said to be in their Child ego-state if they regress to behaving, thinking and feeling as they did when they were a child. Finally, a person is said to be in an Adult ego-state if they are feeling, thinking and behaving in response to stimuli in the here and now, using all the resources available to them as fully grown adults.

By working with these ego-states, it is possible to help individuals increase their awareness of their adult options in life situations, rather than limiting themselves to using out-dated and sometimes unhelpful strategies contained in the Child or Parent ego-states.

What is Transactional Analysis Proper?

When communicating with someone else, the theory of Transactional Analysis Proper (ie. TA theory relating specifically to the study of transactions) states that the person offering a transactional stimulus can do so from their Parent, Adult or Child ego-state, and can aim the communication to be received by the recipient’s Parent, Adult or Child ego-state. Exploring these transactions, with a view to increasing awareness and changing unhelpful patterns of communication, can increase a person’s ability to communicate in a more effective way.

What is Game and Racket Analysis?


A ‘game’ is a series of transactions that involve ulterior messages being sent from person to person and they result in a predictable outcome. If you’ve ever thought “why has this happened to me again?” then chances are you’ve subconsciously entered into the psychological game of your choice.

The decision to play a psychological game with someone is made subconsciously / out of awareness. Bringing your part in a game to your awareness gives you the power to avoid playing the same game in the future.

Racket Feelings

Individuals may learn that, in their family of origin, some feelings are permitted and others are not (for example, the adage “big boys don’t cry” is symbolic of this sort of conditioning). In order to remain ‘accepted’ by their family, the individual as a child may only permit his or herself to experience or express those permitted feelings, whilst suppressing the authentic feelings, or substituting them with a more permissible feeling. For example, some people start to cry when they are actually angry – this would suggest the person is substituting anger – the authentic emotion – for the substitute (racket) feeling of sadness.

Ever been offered a hug when you’ve been angry? Or felt sad and wanted support but instead you’ve pushed people away with your anger? It’s often unhelpful (and unpleasant) to get your feelings mixed up.

Therapy can help people to free up their authentic feelings and use them appropriately to meet their own needs and the needs of other people.

What is Life Script?

Berne (1972) suggested that every person has a life script, the main plot for which has usually been constructed by the age of seven, with some fine tuning during our teenage years. Individuals create this script out of conscious awareness and continue to live it out throughout their lives. It contains information regarding things like how successful we will be in our love and working lives, how healthy we will be, how we view other people, ourselves and the world, et cetera. Via the use of script analysis it is possible to uncover the material held within the script and change unhelpful aspects of it.