TA's philosophical assumptions:
- People are OK.
- Everyone has the capacity to think.
- People decide their own destiny, and these decisions can be changed.
Our essences as human is different from our behaviors. That is, although at times I hardly accept what you do, your essence as human is OK. From the viewpoint of our human essence, someone is not one-up to the others. All of us have equal worth, value and dignity as people, even though we may be of different race, age, sex or religion.
And all of us have the capacity to think, except for the severely brain damage. So, we have responsibility to decide how we live. Our lives are consequences of what we decide.
When we engage in not-OK behavior, we follow the strategy which we decided in childhood, that is, "life-scripts". Although we cannot help feeling or behaving in our life-scripts by various pressures, we are responsible for our own feelings or behaviors because it is just us to decide whether to confirm to these pressures. However, we can always change our decisions that produce comfortable relations.
Based on these assumptions, TA practice adopts the two principles as below:
- Contractual method.
- Open communication.
Contractual method means that both of a practitioner and a client take part in the process of each change on equal footing. Thus each of them should share full information about what was going on in their change, because people are OK and everyone can think and decide. This is open communication.
"TA" is the abbreviation of "Transactional Analysis", which is a theory of personality and a systematic psychotherapy for personal growth and personal change(This is the definition of TA suggested by the International Transactional Analysis Association: ITAA). TA has many aspects: as a theory of personality, TA shows us how we are constructed psychologically, as a theory of communication, TA gives a method of analyzing systems and organization, and as a theory of psychopathology, TA explains how a child develops. There are few key ideas in TA as below:
The ego-states model (PAC model)
TA's most basic and important idea is the ego-states model. An ego-states relates our behaviors, thoughts and feelings. This model defines three distinct ego-states, that is, "Parent", "Adult" and "Child". When we grasp the "here and now" condition and behave, think and feel in harmony with the condition, we are in our Adult ego-state. On the contrary, when we are in Parent or Child ego-state, our behaviors, thoughts and feelings are based on our past. In our Parent ego-state we may behave, think and feel in ways of our parent or others who were parent-figures for us. On the contrary, when we behave, think and feel in ways which we used when we were children, we are said to be in Child ego-state. It is called "structural analysis" that we understand our personalities from the viewpoint of these three ego-states.
We communicate from any one of our three ego-states certainly. However, my ego-state may be the same with you, or may be the other with you. This communication is called "transaction" in TA.
When we communicate, we signal recognition of each other from both sides. This signal is called "stroke" in TA.
The analysis of "time structuring" is analyzing how to spend our times to give or get strokes from others when we are transacting in groups or pairs.
"Life-script" is a story of our life which was written by ourselves in our childhood. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. As grown-ups, we hardly aware of it, however we walk in the way which is plotted by our old life-script.
"Redefining" is distorting our perception of reality so that it adequate to our life-script. For young child his/her life-script is the best strategy to survive, that is, to get strokes from his/her parents or parents-figured.
"Discounting" is neglect the aspects of the real situation that would contradict our life-script in spite of useful aspects for solving our here and now problems.
"Symbiosis" is the relationship as grown-ups which re-play the relationships between we as children and our parents. In this relationship, we always act in Child or Parent and Adult. So in this relation, we have only three ego-states instead of six ego-states available.
"Rackets" are the false feelings which was useful to get positive strokes from our parents, because they encouraged certain feelings while others were prohibited. As grown-ups, we continue to feel rackets to play in our life-scripts.
"Stamp" is store our experiences which we feel racket feelings in stead of expressing them.
A "game" is a repetitive sequence of transactions which the participants experiment racket feelings in the ends. When we feel something unexpected or uncomfortable, it is the "switch" of a game.
To exert our full abilities as grown-ups, we must give up our life-scripts and gain "autonomy", that is constructed with "awareness", "spontaneity" and "capacity of intimacy". Our autonomy allow us to solve problems using our full resources as grown-ups.