Self improvementPsychology

Bern Eric: transactional analysis as a method of psychotherapy

Eric Berne became famous throughout the world for psychotherapy and psychology due to his theory of communication between people and their attitude to themselves and others. Transactional analysis of Eric Berne was studied by many psychologists who agreed that the person lives life according to the scenario that was laid down in childhood. Many words of parents lay the stereotypical behavior of a person, this determines the quality of his life and communication. What is this - transactional analysis as a method of psychotherapy? What is its essence and benefit to man?

What is the theory of transactional analysis of Eric Berne?

It is considered to be a psychological model that reflects the analysis of the behavior and interaction of a person in a group and within themselves. This theory has become very popular due to the availability of concepts and explanations of human behavioral responses.

The main postulate here is that in certain circumstances a person can act according to which of the three I-positions he takes. Bern Eric drew attention to these positions. Transactional analysis originates from psychoanalysis, and therefore studies and studies the deep aspects of the human psyche.

For psychotherapy, the important point of applying this theory is the statement that each person can learn to think and answer for their actions, trust first of all sensations and needs, make decisions and build personal relationships. From this position, the theory of Eric Berne is a very effective method of helping a person to solve life problems.

Positions in Transactions

In this theory, an easy-to-perceive personality structure is the three ego states: Parent, Child, Adult. Each of them is significantly different from the other, having a set of behavioral characteristics, thinking and feelings.

It is very important for the therapist to understand what condition a person does in one way or another, and what can be changed in his behavior so that he can be a harmonious person, as Bern Eric said. Transactional analysis assumes three basic rules regarding these ego states:

  • Any person by age was once small, so something can do under the influence of the ego-state of the Child.
  • Everyone (with a normally developed brain) is endowed with the ability to make adequate decisions and evaluate reality, which indicates that he has an ego state. Adult.
  • We all had parents or persons substituting them, so we have this beginning, expressed in the ego-state Parent.

At the heart of psychotherapy with the use of transactional analysis is the assistance in the comprehension of unproductive stereotypical behavior by a person. The analysis of transactions, which occurs with the help of a specialist, helps a person to become more productive in the search for solutions, in realizing the reality, in setting further goals.

Types of transactions in psychotherapy

Any interactions between people, verbal or non-verbal, are called transactions in theory, which Bern Eric derived. Transactional analysis within psychotherapy involves the study of human relationships, as well as the search for solutions to emerging problems.

It is important for a specialist to determine which schemes led to difficulties in the relationship. There are two types of verbal and non-verbal interactions:

  • Parallel;
  • Cross.

Parallel methods of interaction

The psychotherapist, working with the client, determines what kind of transactions was used. Parallel are a constructive kind of relationship. In this case, the ego-positions must coincide. For example, a transaction with the question "How are you?" And the answer is "All is well!" Is made from the position of the Adult. In this case, there is no problem in the interaction.


Crosses can provoke conflicts. This is an interaction in which a stimulus (question or appeal) is an unexpected reaction from the position of another ego state. For example, the question "Where is my watch?" And the answer "Where did you leave, get out there!" - a transaction from the positions of the Adult and the Parent. In this case, conflict may develop.

There are still hidden transactions (at the psychological and social levels). In this case, it is important to analyze the incentives of people communicating with each other.

Incentives in communication

Approval is important for the development of the personality. This is one of the basic human needs. In the theory of transactional analysis such approval or stimulus is called "stroking." Such moments in communication can bear a positive or negative color. "Stroking" are unconditional (just for the fact that a person is) and conditional (are given for deeds). The latter are just painted with emotions with the sign "+" or "-".

In therapeutic practice, a specialist teaches a person to take such incentives or not to do so, especially when they are negative. Positive conditional "stroking" is also not always appropriate, since a person learns to be "good", that is, tries to please everyone, infringing on himself.

It is also important to teach the client to abandon the conditions that are put forward with a positive incentive, if they do not correspond to the internal positions of the person, which was especially emphasized by Bern Eric. Transactional analysis helps to focus the client on creating the conditions necessary for him, where he can discover new forces for decision-making and so on. In the therapeutic contact, the psychologist must teach the person to accept himself, then the consultation will be successful.

Honest and dishonest transactions

The next point in the study of transactions as a method of therapy is the analysis of interactions that determine the pastime of the individual. This phenomenon is called the structuring of time by Eric Bern. Psychoanalysis is inclined to consider it a little from the other side: from the position of defense mechanisms.

There are six ways of structuring time:

  • Care (manipulative way of influencing a person);
  • Games (a series of hidden transactions that also "unfairly" manipulate people);
  • Intimacy (sexual interaction);
  • Rituals (transactions caused by stereotypes and external factors);
  • Entertainment (achieving certain goals for oneself);
  • Activity (getting influences from others and achieving their goals).

The last three are called "honest", because they do not manipulate others. The therapist during the conversation helps build positive transactions without manipulative behavior. Games are an influence on people's behavior. Let's talk about them below.

Life scenarios of people

Everyone lives according to the script set in his childhood, Eric Berne claimed. The psychology of life scenarios of people directly depends on the positions adopted in childhood.

  1. The winner is a person who achieves goals, involving others in the struggle. In the process of therapy, such people reconsider their vital positions and manipulative games, trying to build productive transactions without adversely affecting others.
  2. The defeated is a person constantly experiencing failures, involving others in their troubles. Psychotherapy for these people is very important. In the process of conversation and analysis of transactions such people understand the reasons for their failures in life. Clients are trained to correctly respond to problems, do not involve others in them, try to get out of constant problems.
  3. "Non-winner" is a loyal person, fulfilling all his duties, trying not to strain the surrounding people. Realizing in the process of psychotherapy their life scenario, such a person makes certain decisions depending on needs and goals.

All the scripts (for more details about them you can read in the book written by Eric Berne, "The Psychology of Human Relationships, or Games in which People Play") we get as a result of parental programming in early childhood. First taking them non-verbally, then using verbal messages. They are forced out of consciousness with the course of life, so a person can not guess what dictated his behavior. Therefore, with problems related to life scenarios or conflict interactions, it is important to consult a psychotherapist who knows the theory of transactional analysis thoroughly.

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