The Aim Of Transactional Analysis

The Aim Of Transactional Analysis

In many of my blog posts I talk about what I see as the aim of therapy.  As a therapist I work with my client to move them towards a rich, fulfilling life.

Notice I did not say happy life.  Since happiness is an emotion then you can reliably predict that it comes and goes.  You have no say in when it does either.

If your aim in life is to be happy then you fall into The Happiness Trap.  The happiness trap involves chasing something you have no control over and then becoming frustrated/angry/despondent/ anxious that you can’t control it.

It’s a bit like chasing clouds.

The aim of Transactional Analysis

Eric Berne stated that the aim of Transactional Analysis is Autonomy.

Berne broke autonomy down further into three components; awareness, spontaneity and the capacity for intimacy.

Lets take these one by one.


Awareness is the ability to assess a situation for what it is. When you are aware you are in your Adult ego state.

The decisions that you make in a situation are based on the here and now reality of what you are facing.

In your Child ego state and your Parent ego state your assessments will be coloured by your past. History leaks in. So you make a historical response to a here and now situation and react.

When you are aware you are not coloured by that history so you can respond.

For example, Bob always feels nervous when he gets called into the bosses office even though his boss is a reasonable woman who has never behaved badly towards him.

You could say that Bob is experiencing transference towards his boss and is bringing back past experiences of being in trouble at school and reliving these when called into the bosses office.

If he can move into his Adult ego state and see the boss for who she is, a reasonable woman and not his old head teacher, then he is likely to perform better at work and find life more fulfilling.


Once more this is about being able to do the things that really excite you in life without being held back by history. Susannah Temple, originator of Functional Fluency describes is as providing,

Delight, satisfaction and renewed energy from the expression and use of your own uniqueness as an individual.

Sounds great doesn’t it! And I’m pretty sure you’ve experienced this. It’s that feeling you get when you’re really in the zone with something. You feel fully present. Time seems to pass without noticing.

The capacity for intimacy

What all humans crave for, what we want most out of life is intimacy. Berne defined intimacy as a

 Candid, game free relationship, with mutual free giving and receiving and without exploitation

(Berne, 1972)

There’s a fair bit of TA language in that definition and we will come on to games later in this blog series (if you can’t wait, here’s one I wrote earlier!)

Basically what we are talking about here is having a deep connection with another human being in a safe way.

In everyday language we often connect intimacy with sex or romantic relationships. This is not what we mean in this context.

You can be intimate with anyone. You can talk honestly and openly (from Adult ego state) to your friends, kids, partner, work colleagues and lots of intimate conversation goes on in therapy.

Once more it’s likely that you’ve experienced this. That you’ve felt that connection whilst talking to someone you value. The aim of Transactional Analysis is for you to be able to do this more frequently without old stuff getting in the way.

So, in a nutshell, the aim of Transactional Analysis is to help you be more aware of the here and now so you can make informed decisions about your behaviour; to be able to be fully connected with yourself and to be able to connect wholly with others without history getting in the way.

This is autonomy.

Sounds like something you want to have in your life?

If this sounds like something you would like to work towards why not get in touch and come work with me at my counselling centre in Cheadle, Cheshire. Just ring 07966 390857 or contact me on this form and we will get started.

Read the book

If you want to read more about Transactional Analysis then one great book is An Introduction to Transactional Analysis: Helping People Change.  A straightforward book which will give you a good understanding of TA basics.  

Disclosure: All links to books are affiliate links – if a million people click them then buy stuff I will be rich!

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