Transactional Analysis (ТА) began emerging in the 1950s and ’60s as a somewhat rebellious counter-offering to the then-current approach to psychotherapy - one in which the therapist held the power, the patient held none, and therapy took many years and was expensive. Eric Berne (1910-1960) believed that people could think for themselves, were basically OK (a much misunderstood colloquial term indicating a deep sense of respect for both self and others) and, given some tools, could begin to change and be functional in their lives.

ТА has its roots in clinical work, but the cutting edge of ТА in the twenty-first century is the growth in using ТА for development, learning and change - in both individuals and systems. Practitioners can qualify in any of the four fields of application: psychotherapy, counselling, education and organisational development. It is in the areas of education and organisational development that ТА is expanding most - especially with its strong focus on social action.

The simple language and clear diagrams make psychological processes readily understandable and immediately practical. Individuals and organisations as far ranging as global companies and grassroots projects find that ТА offers supportive frameworks to understand human dynamics in the system.

In the first section of this book, you will be introduced to the foundational ТА frameworks that are most useful for present- centred developmental work. In the second section, you will learn about different ТА approaches. In the third section, you will find examples of the practical application of ТА in coaching.

As I work and train coaches within the parameters of the International Coaching Federation, here are links to the coaching core competency framework ( core-competencies) and the Professional Certified Coach markers (

Part 1

Transactional Analysis key concepts


1.1 Introduction

This chapter describes the three areas of contracting (Berne, 1966) that need to be considered in professional engagements. The concept of ensuring an equal distance on the psychological level of the contracting (Micholt, 1992) stresses the importance of all role players in an organisational, multiparty contract seeking clarity on the more hidden or assumed aspects of the work in order to prevent potential collusion between some of the role players. Initial contracting at the start of a coaching contract, as well as in each session, is essential for ethical and powerful coaching.

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