Transactional Analysis (TA) began in the 1950ies when Eric Berne developed this new therapy approach. TA was initially a group therapy, where patterns of communication between the participants were observed and challenged.
A ‘unit of communication’, i.e. something communicated to a person and their response was called a ‘transaction’, hence the name ‘Transactional Analysis’. Over the decades TA has developed to become an effective theoretical framework for the work with individuals and couples. It incorporates many key themes from humanistic, integrative, psychoanalytical, and psychodynamic therapies.
Ego states are the core model of Transactional Analysis. They provide a way of understanding our personality; how we think, feel and behave.
Eric Berne defined an ego-state as a consistent pattern of feeling and experience directly related to a corresponding consistent pattern of behaviour.
The philosophical assumptions of TA are that people can think and decide their own destiny, that they can change and that everyone is equal. It assumes that people decide early on in life on an unconscious life plan, a ‘script’, which they will reinforce unconsciously over the years through ‘outdated’ or hindering patterns of behaving, thinking, feeling and relating to others.
Through the dialogue with the therapist, and by paying attention to the relationship between therapist and client, where such patterns are likely to manifest, this can be brought into consciousness and challenged. Thus the possibility of a new ‘script’, a different way forward, and a new way of being emerges.