What is Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy?
Transactional Analysis (TA) is a theory about the structure of personality, developed by Eric Berne in 1956. His theory was based on definite behavioural observations about individuals and the way they relate to each other.
His book, TA in Psychotherapy (1961), describes what he believed, and demonstrated that whatever happens to the individual is recorded in the brain. This includes everything the person experiences in childhood, all that is incorporated from parent figures, perceptions and events, the feelings associated with these events, and the distortions in one’s memory. All this is stored as though on a computer disc. These memories can be replayed and the events recalled and re-experienced in response to something that is happening to the individual in the present day, thus influencing us in the way we relate to each other and to events that occur in our lives.
Over the past four decades Eric Berne’s theory has evolved to include applications to psychotherapy, counselling, education, and organisational development. Transactional analysis is a powerful tool to bring about human well being.
In psychotherapy, transactional analysis utilizes a contract for specific changes desired by the client and involves the “Adult” in both the client and the clinician to sort out behaviors, emotions and thoughts that prevent the development of full human potential.
Transactional analysts intervene as they work with clients in a safe, protective, mutually respectful-OK/OK environment to eliminate dysfunctional behaviours and establish and reinforce positive relationship styles and healthy functioning. Transactional analysts are able to use the many tools of psychotherapy, ranging from psychodynamic to cognitive behavioral methods in effective and potent ways.
What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
This is an often asked question which isn’t terribly easy to answer. Some say there is no difference when you compare an experienced well trained counsellor and an experienced well trained psychotherapist.
There is a considerable overlap in that both counselling and psychotherapy are about overcoming personal difficulties and facilitating change. The methods used are similar and in some instances identical. The differences relate more to the goals and interests and to the setting in which the professional counsellor or therapist works. A counsellor and a therapist will decide whether or not the client should seek further medical and psychiatric advice and will normally make referrals to appropriate specialists whilst also making consultations with the client’s GP.
Some would say that counselling focuses more upon the here and now, whereas psychotherapy aims to help the client link the past and the present together. One thing is clear though. There is a vast difference in the level and degree of training required today for counsellors and therapists.
Most counselling courses occur in colleges and generally last 2 – 3 year years. In psychotherapy training the average time until qualification is about 6 years. A trainee counsellor doesn’t necessarily have to have much counselling themselves. A psychotherapist on the other hand, has to have weekly therapy for the duration of the training, in both individual and group settings.
The trainee psychotherapist also has to do a mental health placement in order to experience severe mental health illnesses. A trainee counsellor does not have to experience this.
You can read an interesting article about the difference between counselling and psychotherapy here.
Where can I train in Transactional Analysis psychotherapy?
There are several psychotherapy training institutions in the Manchester area. I am in training at MIP. The Director of training there is Bob Cooke. Bob is a UKCP registered trainer with over 25 years experience in the field of psychotherapy. I would fully recommend the course.