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More About Transactional Analysis

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Business Balls defines the three roles (called ego states) as:

1.  Parent–

Physical – angry or impatient body-language and expressions, finger-pointing, patronizing gestures,

Verbal – always, never, for once and for all, judgmental words, critical words, patronizing language, posturing language.

N.B. beware of cultural differences in body-language or emphases that appear ‘Parental’.

2.  Child–

Physical – emotionally sad expressions, despair, temper tantrums, whining voice, rolling eyes, shrugging shoulders, teasing, delight, laughter, speaking behind hand, raising hand to speak, squirming and giggling.

Verbal – baby talk, I wish, I don’t know, I want, I’m going to, I don’t care, oh no, not again, things never go right for me, worst day of my life, bigger, biggest, best, many superlatives, words to impress.

3.  Adult–

Physical – attentive, interested, straight-forward, tilted head, non-threatening and non-threatened.

Verbal – why, what, how, who, where and when, how much, in what way, comparative expressions, reasoned statements, true, false, probably, possibly, I think, I realize, I see, I believe, in my opinion.

Modern developments for TA has been defined by several people—Claude Steiner is a recognized leader. Business balls gives these definitions:

Parent is now commonly represented as a circle with four quadrants:

Nurturing – Nurturing (positive) and Spoiling (negative).

Controlling – Structuring (positive) and Critical (negative).

Child is now commonly represented as circle with four quadrants:

Adapted – Co-operative (positive) and Compliant/Resistant (negative).

Free – Spontaneous (positive) and Immature (negative).

Adult remains as a single entity, representing an ‘accounting’ function or mode, which can draw on the resources of both Parent and Child.

A more complex and complete definition of the modern TA theory is written by Claude Steiner. He does a great job of including the evolution of ideas for this counseling method.

A quite clever diagram at changingminds.org shows the interactions of the parent, child and adult. The roles pictured here are: controlling parent (Do this. Stop that), nurturing parent (It’s OK), adult, adaptive child (No. Please), natural child (Whee. Wah!), the little professor (let’s try), and my favorite role (creative-‘free child’).

Further reading about Transactional Analysis:

A Compilation of Core Concepts

Key Ideas Summary

Transactional Analysis Student—the study and training aids for trainee psychotherapists and counselors

TA Tudor includes a study guide for the TA 101 course and also has 400+ handouts

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