Transaction analysis

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The transactional analysis (TA) is a psychological theory of human personality . It was founded in the middle of the 20th century by the American psychiatrist Eric Berne and is continuously being developed. It claims to provide clear psychological concepts with which people can reflect, analyze and change the reality they experience .

Even during Berne's lifetime, various transaction analysts set different priorities in their work, which also influenced the further development of transaction analysis. More recent developments are based, for example, on Mary and Robert Goulding ( redecision therapy ), Jacqui Lee Schiff ( new parenting ), Fanita English ( substitute feelings ; episcript ), Richard G. Erskine ( integrative psychotherapy ), Charlotte Sills, Helena Hargaden, William F. Cornell ( relationship- oriented Transaction Analysis ) and Bernd Schmid ( Systemic Transaction Analysis ).


Transactional analysis uses the means of communication to enable people to interpret their perception of reality and their interactions and to shape their own life path . For this purpose, the transaction analysis provides a theory of personality and a description of communicative processes in different contexts . Transactional analysis also offers models for observing, describing, understanding and changing or developing the personality and the relationships between individuals and social systems. It thus includes concepts for personality analysis , for relationship analysis , for group dynamics and group analysis and for the analysis and control of social systems as well as methods of influencing the design of changes in the interactive area that are considered useful.

The objective of the transaction analysis is an integrated, autonomous personality with the ability to move self-confidently, respectfully, mindfully, considerately and contributing in a social structure. Transactional analysts should cooperate with their clients in the awareness of equality and equality in order to shape life together joyfully. For this purpose, the ethics committees of the international TA societies adopt binding ethical principles, which are also part of the training and further education in transaction analysis.

Basic ideas of transaction analysis

When people look at social interactions or individual personalities with the help of the basic ideas of transactional analysis, then these assumptions apply:

  • Everyone has the ability to think and solve problems.
  • Everyone is fine in all their shades and in their entirety.
  • Everyone is able to take responsibility for their life and its design. He has the ability to consciously perceive and control his mental, emotional and sensory processes and the resulting actions or social interactions.
  • Everyone is seen as capable of shaping their concept of life (or pattern of life) in a creative, beneficial and constructive way.

In addition, it is possible for everyone to make autonomous decisions for themselves and for others by using their inherent resources. To do this, he uses his ability to become conscious of the momentary circumstances, his ability to choose from a range of different energetic states and the ability to real emotional contact with other people.

For transaction analysts, autonomy in the sense of self-determination, spontaneity and the ability to relate to the world has the highest priority.

Theory development

Eric Berne developed the transaction analysis out of observing interpersonal communication. He then related these processes, which he called transactions , to internal processes reported by patients. A transaction describes communication that takes place: the conscious and unconscious exchange between people and their environment, both verbally and non-verbally.

Communication processes are differentiated into transactions and can therefore be understood and influenced or changed by the viewer. Complex processes of stereotypical transaction patterns are referred to as games in transaction analysis (e.g. a marriage dispute that continues over and over again). They thus represent fixed and restrictive patterns of social togetherness to which Eric Berne devoted a great deal of attention.

As a psychiatrist, Berne originally related his theory development to psychotherapeutic contexts. On the path to healing, he initially focused on the patient's insight into his psychological structures and the resulting transactions and games . On the basis of this insight, the patient should be able to achieve autonomy by changing his behavior and thought structures. To this end, he developed appropriate and efficient models, which he used to discuss the patient's structures and difficulties with him. Over time and the further development of transaction analysis, the focus of this cognitive approach shifted, so that contemporary work in the context of transaction analysis means developing new ways of seeing and experiencing the world holistically.

The idea that the power, the potential and the responsibility for healing lie in the patient represented a paradigm shift in the treatment of severe mental disorders in the middle of the last century . From this basic assumption, the central position of the contract goes directly into the work of transactional analysts. This means that the patient defines the goals of the joint work by clarifying in conversation with the transactional analyst what he is going to change and what the task of the outsider is. Even if transaction analysts nowadays mostly use completely different approaches when working with clients - away from the classic cognitive-behavior-oriented towards emotionally relationship and process-oriented - the contract is and remains the linchpin of professional orientation. It is also an expression of the great importance of ethical principles in transaction analysis.

The different theoretical concepts of transaction analysis usually focus on different focuses. If the psychological structure of the individual is the focus, then transactional analysts mostly use the structural model of the ego states. Eric Berne observed that one and the same person can activate qualitatively different states of experience at different times. Such states of experience, each characterized by a coherent pattern of ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, he called ego states . The basically infinite number of experience states of a person can basically be divided into three categories: We can reactivate stored experiences from earlier, the state is then called the childhood ego state . If we create a new state of experience that is fully and appropriately related to the here and now, it is called the adult ego state . When we experience ourselves in a way that we have adopted from others in thinking, feeling, and behavior, that is a parent-ego state . With the structural model of the ego states, the individual internal energies of people are described and classified. The ego states as personality components represent patterns of experience and action as they are perceived in the here and now. However, we often activate stereotypical and sometimes less suitable reaction patterns in response to unconscious memories of previous relationships. With the help of transactional analysis, self-determined patterns of thinking, feeling and behavior should be developed that are appropriate to the current situation, where these old patterns restrict the flow of life so much that unnecessary suffering arises.

The symbol of the three superimposed circles represents the structural model of the ego states , whereby the circles symbolize the categories of parent ego , adult ego and childhood ego .

The ego-state model

Humans always experience themselves in relation to their environment, even in retreat (from it). The environment is always experienced in relation to people. The description of the dynamics of this mutual relationship represents the core of the transactional analysis. It therefore combines depth psychological , relational and systemic aspects of human interaction in its concepts .

Nowadays, transaction analysis concepts and models refer to all areas of social interaction, so that transaction analysis is taught and practiced in the four application areas of psychotherapy, counseling, organizational development and pedagogy / adult education. Transactional analysis is constantly being further developed against a scientific background and with scientific support. The concepts discussed here for transactions, games, contracts and psychological structure are four examples from a large number of other theoretical models, the presentation of which would go beyond the scope at this point.

Critical considerations (meta perspective)

Eric Berne's attempt to describe psychological processes and phenomena in relatively easy-to-understand, simple language has resulted in people using the terminology of transactional analysis without knowing or paying attention to the underlying concepts. This led to transactional analysis being viewed as simplistic in the 1970s and its early devaluation by established therapists, with the TA community subsequently attempting to convey that it was at least as good as it was, but actually better. This rivalry has harmed transactional analysis. Since the turn of the millennium, the TA community has been recovering from this process and is now striving for networking and integration within the psychological directions. On the other hand, the euphoria of the first few years led to an overestimation of the possibilities of transaction analysis. The human with his limitations took a back seat, the method should make everything possible. However, this view has in part given way to the assessment that success depends not only on the method, but also very much on the people who use it and on the framework conditions.

International TA organizations

There are several international TA organizations, for example:

  • International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA) . It was founded as a non-profit organization to promote the growth and development of a useful and creative theory of transactional analysis and its application. The ITAA is based in San Francisco (USA). It is the umbrella organization for members from 60 countries around the world.
  • European Transactional Analysis Association (EATA) . It was founded in 1976. Meanwhile 34 national European TA societies with approx. 7600 members gather under its roof, among them
  • German Society of Transaction Analysis (DGTA) . It is the umbrella organization for transaction analysts in Germany. It currently has around 1700 members.
  • Austrian Society for Transaction Analysis (ÖGTA) . It is the umbrella organization for transaction analysts in Austria
  • Swiss Society for Transaction Analysis - Association Suisse d'Analyse Transactionnelle (SGTA-ASAT) , the umbrella organization for transaction analysts in Switzerland.

All international companies work closely together, are networked and pay attention to uniform standards, among other things with regard to ethics, training and further education, theory development and examination requirements.


  • Eric Berne: The Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy: A Systematic Individual and Social Psychiatry (original title: Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy: A Systematic Individual and Social Psychiatry ). 1961, translated by Ulrike Müller. Junfermann, Paderborn 2006, ISBN 3-87387-423-7 .
  • Eric Berne: Transactional Analysis of Intuition. A contribution to ego psychology. Junfermann, Paderborn 2005, ISBN 3-87387-003-7 .
  • Petruska Clarkson: Transactional Analytical Psychotherapy. Basics and application - the manual for practice. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1996
  • Fanita English: Transactional Analysis: Feelings and Substitutes in Relationships. Iskopress Salzhausen 2008
  • Fanita English: It went well - what went wrong? Relationships in partnership, family and work. Kaiser, Munich 1992
  • Richard G. Erskine, Janet P. Moursund: Contact - I States - Life Plan. Integrative Psychotherapy in Action. Junfermann, Paderborn 1991
  • Mary McClure Goulding, Robert L. Goulding: Redecision. Translated from the English by Ursula and Friedemann Pfäfflin. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2005
  • Manfred Gührs, Claus Nowak: The constructive conversation. A guide to counseling, teaching, and leadership using concepts of transactional analysis. Limmer, Meezen 2006
  • Ute Hagehülsmann: Transactional Analysis - How Does It Work ? Transaction analysis in action I. Junfermann, Paderborn 2006
  • Ute and Heinrich Hagehülsmann: Man in the field of tension in his organization. Transaction analysis in management training, coaching, team and personnel development . Junfermann, Paderborn 2007
  • Thomas Anthony Harris : I'm ok You are ok Translated from the English by Irmela Brender. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1973
  • Gudrun Hennig, Georg Pelz: Transaction Analysis. Textbook for therapy and counseling. Junfermann, Paderborn 2007
  • Günther Mohr: Coaching and self-coaching with transaction analysis. EHP, Cologne 2008
  • Harald Rau: Invitation to Communication Studies. UBT 3915, Nomos, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-8252-3915-2 .
  • Leonhard Schlegel: Concise dictionary of transaction analysis. All terms of TA explained in a practical way. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1993
  • Leonhard Schlegel: The Transactional Analysis. UTB 8007 Franke, Tübingen / Basel 1995, ISBN 3-8252-8007-1 (UTB) / ISBN 3-7720-1715-0 (Franke).
  • Bernd Schmid: Systemic professionalism and transaction analysis: With a conversation with Fanita English. EHP , Bergisch Gladbach 2003, ISBN 978-3-89797-019-9 .
  • Bernd Schmid: Systemic coaching - concepts and approaches in personality counseling. EHP, Bergisch Gladbach 2004, ISBN 978-3-89797-029-8 .
  • Johann Schneider: On the way to the goal. The contract process, a key concept of successful professional support. Junfermann, Paderborn 2002
  • Ian Stewart, Vann Joines: The Transactional Analysis. An introduction. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 2000


Web links


  1. ^ History. The human being as a self responsible being. In: Website of the German Society for Transaction Analysis. Archived from the original on October 24, 1008 ; accessed on August 2, 2017 .
  2. ^ Ian Stewart: Eric Berne. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA 1992, ISBN 0-8039-8467-7 .
  3. Graham Barnes et al. a .: Transactional Analysis since Eric Berne, Volume 1: Schools of Transactional Analysis, Theory and Practice. Verlag Gisela Kottwitz, Berlin 1979, ISBN 3-9800439-1-6 .
  4. ^ Mary McClure Goulding, Robert Goulding: New decision. A model of psychotherapy. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-608-95436-8 .
  5. Jacqui Lee Schiff: All my children. Healing Schizophrenia by Repeating Childhood. Verlag Chr. Kaiser, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-459-01311-7 .
  6. Fanita English: Transactional Analysis - Feelings and Substitute Feelings. Iskopress, Salzhausen 2008, ISBN 978-3-89403-423-8 .
  7. Richard G. Erskine, Janet P. Moursund: Contact. I states. Life plan. Integrative psychotherapy. Junfermann, Paderborn 1991, ISBN 3-87387-034-7 .
  8. method. In: Archived from the original on August 10, 2008 ; accessed on November 11, 2019 .
  9. ^ A b Leonhard Schlegel: Article key objectives in: ders .: Concise dictionary of transaction analysis. All terms of TA explained in a practical way. 2002, download from
  10. Ethics in the DGTA. In: Retrieved August 11, 2019 .
  11. ↑ Basic beliefs of TA. In: Ian Stewart, Vann Joines: The Transactional Analysis. An introduction. Herder, Freiburg / Basel / Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-451-05523-2 , pp. 28-30.
  12. Heinrich Hagehülsmann: The image of man in the transaction analysis. In: W. Greive (Ed.): The image of people in new group work. Loccumer Protocols, No. 22, 1988, Loccum, Ev. Acad. 89
  13. Eric Berne: Games of the Adults. Psychology of human relationships. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 2008
  14. On the contract cf. Eric Berne: Basics of group treatment. Thoughts on group therapy & intervention techniques. Paderborn 2005, pp. 82-101
  15. Ian Stewart, Vann Joines: Transactional Analysis An Introduction. Herder, Freiburg / Basel / Vienna 2007.
  16. See Fanita English in an interview with Bernd Schmid: Founding and developing a school. (1987/88), In: Bernd Schmid: Systemic Professionalism and Transaction Analysis. With a conversation with Fanita English. EHP, Bergisch Gladbach 2008, ISBN 978-3-89797-019-9 , pp. 225-258.