Transactional analysis is a theory of personality and a paradigm in psychotherapy that has begun in 1950s. It’s founder was Eric Berne, a psychoanalyst who noticed that the analysis of inner conflicts of the patient might be insufficient to conduct an effective and reasonably timed psychotherapy since it doesn’t takes into consideration the social aspect of individual’s functioning (Berne, 1961).
According to Eric Berne transactional analysis is:
- a system of psychotherapy based on the analysis of singular transactions and their series that occur during therapeutic session;
- a theory of personality based on examining particular ego states;
- an analysis of singular transactions shown on transactional diagrams (so called transactional analysis proper) (Jagieła, 2012, p.24).
Transactional analysis derives from such paradigms like psychoanalysis, psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioural paradigm as well as from cognitive psychology and the theory of interpersonal communication. It offers a coherent and complete explanation of how the individual’s personality takes shape, how it functions in interpersonal relationships, how an individual makes certain decisions and how the course of his life develops as a particular story (script) with a particular ending.
Apart from theory transactional analysis offers a set of techniques and methods that enables changes regarding personality, interpersonal relationships and script. The principles of transactional analysis are used to diagnose problems as well as design plans of interventions in psychotherapeutic work (with individuals, couples, families, groups) and work in education, counselling and organisations.
The patient is treated subjectively in accordance with the philosophical foundations of transactional analysis, i.e.:
- in their very essence everyone is OK
- according to their capabilities, every individual is able to think
- people decide about their fate and can change their decisions due to being capable of taking responsibility for their lives (Jagieła, 2012, p.24).
Transactional analysis is a universal approach appropriate for working with healthy individuals, both adults and children (communication is adjusted to the stage of thinking development), the mentally disabled and people suffering from various mental disorders, such as depression, personality disorders, substance addiction etc.
Transactional analysis psychotherapy is open to methods and techniques from other paradigms which enables the therapist to seek optimal ways of working with each and every patient.
Systematic research of psychotherapy in transactional analysis proves its effectiveness. The results of the research are regularly published in International Journal of Transactional Analysis Research and other scientific periodicals on psychotherapy and they include cases of treating depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, addiction and co-addiction, phobias, suicidal patients etc.
Transactional analysis is also used in psychological counselling directed at helping people in solving specific difficulties in relationships between parents and children, spouses, partners or peers.
In transactional analysis the synonym of a mentally healthy individual is an autonomous person who realises goals established by themselves, makes responsible decisions concerning their lives, is spontaneous, aware and capable of establishing close relationships with other people.