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Transactional Analysis (TA) is a psychoanalytic theory and therapeutic approach developed by psychiatrist Eric Berne. It is a model for understanding human personality, communication, and behavior. TA is often used in psychotherapy, counseling, education, and organizational development. The core concepts of Transactional Analysis include:

  1. Ego States:
    • Definition: According to TA, individuals have three ego states that shape their behavior and responses. These are Parent, Adult, and Child.
    • Parent Ego State: Represents thoughts, feelings, and behaviors copied from parental figures or authority figures.
    • Adult Ego State: Involves processing information objectively, based on current reality and free from emotional bias.
    • Child Ego State: Reflects thoughts, feelings, and behaviors experienced during childhood.
  2. Transactions:
    • Definition: Transactions are the basic units of social interaction. They involve exchanges between ego states and can be either complementary or crossed.
    • Complementary Transactions: Occur when the sender’s ego state triggers a response from the appropriate ego state in the receiver (e.g., Adult to Adult).
    • Crossed Transactions: Occur when the sender’s ego state triggers an unexpected or inappropriate response from the receiver (e.g., Parent to Child).
  3. Strokes:
    • Definition: Strokes are units of recognition, attention, or communication that individuals give and receive in social interactions.
    • Positive Strokes: Affirmative gestures or words that convey recognition and support.
    • Negative Strokes: Criticism or negative attention that can lead to emotional distress.
  4. Games:
    • Definition: In TA, “games” refer to recurring patterns of interactions characterized by a series of transactions that lead to predictable and often negative outcomes.
    • Script: A life script is a set of unconscious decisions made in childhood that influences a person’s life path and behavior.
  5. Life Positions:
    • Definition: Life positions are overarching attitudes or beliefs about oneself and others. TA identifies four life positions:
      • I’m Not OK, You’re OK: A position of inferiority, often associated with feelings of inadequacy.
      • I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK: A position of hopelessness and negativity.
      • I’m OK, You’re Not OK: A position of superiority, often accompanied by judgment.
      • I’m OK, You’re OK: A position of mutual respect and healthy relationships.
  6. Rackets:
    • Definition: Rackets are repetitive, unconscious patterns of behavior or responses developed to cope with unmet needs or unresolved issues.
  7. Contracts:
    • Definition: Contracts in TA refer to explicit or implicit agreements between individuals about how they will interact or behave.

Transactional Analysis is applied in various contexts, including psychotherapy, counseling, education, and organizational development. It provides a framework for understanding interpersonal dynamics, improving communication, and fostering personal and professional growth. TA is known for its accessible language and practical applications in diverse settings.