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What is transactional analysis and how can it help?

Posted on Monday, 30 January 2023, in Treatments & Therapy

two women hugging


Transactional Analysis, or TA for short, is a powerful tool for understanding and improving human relationships. It was developed by Dr Eric Berne in the 1950s and 60s and explores how people communicate and interact with one another.

At its core, transaction analysis is based on the idea that all human interactions can be understood as transactions. It suggests that a transaction is simply an exchange of information or behaviour between two people. These transactions can take many forms, such as a verbal conversation, a gesture, or a facial expression. Each transaction is classified into three types: 



A complementary transaction is one in which two people communicate in a way that is consistent with their self-concepts and their roles. For example, two people having a friendly conversation would be a complementary transaction.



A crossed transaction, on the other hand, occurs when two people are communicating in a way that is not consistent with their self-concepts or roles. This can happen when one person is dishonest or when two people communicate in a way that is harmful to one or both.



An ulterior transaction is one in which one person communicates with another for a hidden or unconscious reason. This might be someone trying to manipulate or control another person or hiding their true feelings behind a facade.


As a therapeutic tool, TA can be incredibly useful for people because it helps them to understand the dynamics of their relationships and to identify patterns of communication that are not working for them. People can change their behaviour and improve their relationships by recognising when they are involved in a crossed or ulterior transaction.

Transactional analysis can also be helpful for people who are struggling with emotional or mental health issues. By understanding the underlying dynamics of their interactions with others, people can gain insight into the root causes of their problems and work towards resolving them. 

In addition, TA can help people to improve their communication skills and increase their ability to connect with others. This can be particularly beneficial for people struggling with social anxiety or difficulty forming relationships, so whether you're looking to improve your communication skills, resolve emotional issues, or want to understand yourself and others better, transactional analysis is a powerful tool that can help you to achieve your goals.


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