Transactional Analysis helps us to improve our interactions and become more personally balanced.

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Last updated May 26, 2020 by Dr. Sheri Jacobson Dr. Sheri Jacobson

Transactional Analysis (TA)

Background and principles of Transactional Analysis

TA is an approach used for the understanding of personality and communication. It was developed by psychiatrist Eric Berne in the late 1950s. This approach followed existing psychoanalytic concepts and also involves humanistic and cognitive elements and has continued to be developed ever since. TA can help to explain why we think, feel and behave in the way that we do. TA is used in psychotherapy as a tool for personal growth and personal change. It centres on how we interact with others and the implications of our interactions.

This approach focuses on the individual’s psychological structure and suggests that individuals experience three different ego states. An ego state can be understood as a personality type or as a way of thinking and behaving. The three different kinds of ego state are parent, adult and child.


Behaviours, thoughts and feelings that are copied from parental figures


Behaviours, thoughts and feelings that are responses to the present


Behaviours, thoughts and feelings that are replayed from childhood


When two people interact with each other, they will both be using one or more ego states.

The parent ego state is associated with making judgements about people or things. This ego state is usually dominant and focuses on asserting opinions towards others. This ego state can often reflect behaviour learnt from our own parents or other dominant personalities in our lives.

The adult ego state is the most grounded state. This means that when we are being rational, objective and thoughtful we are usually in this ego state. This involves treating people respectfully, accounting for others and providing equal opportunities. 

The child ego state reflects our own childhood. This can involve characteristics such as rebellion, sulking or stubbornness. Other examples include being overly compliant of another’s wishes whilst disregarding one’s own, or being overly dependent on others.

TA aims to help individuals identify and understand how and why we transfer between different ego states. The aim of therapy is to free an individual of unhelpful ways of thinking, feeling and behaving and assisting them to become more personally balanced. The way we interact with each other can heavily influence our working lives, close relationships and, ultimately, our overall well-being, therefore it is important to interact in the best possible way.

Benefits of Transactional Analysis

  • In practical application TA can be used to help many types of problems
  • TA can support individuals to eliminate unhelpful ways of thinking, feeling, behaving and communicating
  • TA can be valuable for individuals, couples, families and groups
  • TA can help people to become more self-aware
  • Helpful skills can be developed which can be applied to all areas of life including relationships, occupation and everyday interaction
  • You can learn the most effective ways to communicate. This may mean that you are more likely to get what you would like from life
  • This approach promotes personal reflection. 

Transactional Analysis at Harley Therapy™, London

We have therapists trained and experienced in TA. To book an appointment please call us or complete the online form, or contact us to discuss your needs.  

References and further reading:



  • Berne, E. Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy, Grove Press, Inc., New York, 1961.
  • Berne, E. Games People Play, The Psychology of Human Relationships. Penguin, 2010.
  • Luce, R. D., and Raiffa, H. Games & Decisions. John Willey & Sons, Inc., New York, 1957.
  • Lapworth and Sills (2011). An Introduction to Transactional Analysis. Sage publications.


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