Modern psychology’s transactional analysis, created by psychiatrist Eric Berne, looks at a person’s interactions and relationships. In order to create transactional analysis, Berne drew inspiration from Sigmund Freud’s ideas of personality and combined them with his own observations of human interaction. To create and reinforce the idea that each person is valued and has the potential for positive transformation and personal growth, transactional analysis can be used in therapy to examine one’s interactions and communications.

Examining Transactional Analysis’s Ego States

Berne proposed that every person had three ego states, just like Freud. The Parent, the Adult, and the Child are his ego states; they do not, however, directly equate to Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego. Instead, these states stand in for a person’s mental representation of their parents, peers, and kids. In interactions with others or during internal dialogue, a person may play any of these roles. These responsibilities can be characterised as follows even if they are not immediately related to their standard English definitions:

Parent is a collection of recordings of the outside events that a child saw and felt from birth through their first five years of life. The youngster simply accepts these recordings without inquiry; they are not scrutinised or filtered in any way. Berne gave this ego state the name “the Parent” since many of these outside circumstances is probably going to include the person’s parents or other adults acting in parent-link positions. Examples of outside events captured in this state include:

  • Play no games involving matches.
  • Don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you.”
  • Never converse with strangers.

Child is a representation of all brain recordings of internal (emotional or mental) occurrences that are closely related to the external events that the child saw throughout his or her first five years of existence. Events that might be noted in this state include:

  • When Mom gives me a hug, I’m happy.
  • Dad’s late-night film was quite spooky.
  • When Mom gets depressed, I also get sad.

The time when a child has the ability to perceive and comprehend situations that are distinct from what is felt or observed (by a parent) is known as adulthood, the final ego state (Child). In order to make a choice, the Adult acts as a hub for data processing that integrates knowledge from all three ego states. Validating information saved in the Parent is one of the Adult’s key responsibilities.

I saw that Suzie’s home was destroyed by fire. I shouldn’t play with matches, and Mom was right.


Any indication (gestures, words, or other nonverbal indicators) that recognizes the presence of another person is referred to as a transactional stimulus. Every transaction begins with a transactional trigger. When two persons interact and the receiver behaves in a manner that is congruent with the transactional stimulus, a transactional reaction is produced. Finding out which ego state—in the speaker—initiated the transactional stimulus and which ego state—in the receiver—provided the transactional response—is typically the key to effective person-to-person communication.

Berne thinks that transactions between Adult ego states are the simplest and easiest since Adult ego states are often sensible and reasonable, but transactions can happen between any two of the other ego states. In a complimentary transaction, the speaker’s sending ego state is targeted by the transaction response from the receiver. For instance, if the Adult in the speaker sends the Child in the receiver a transactional stimulus, the transaction will be complimentary if the Child in the receiver subsequently sends the Adult in the speaker a transactional response. Berne contends that as long as the transactions are complementary, communication will continue.

A crossover transaction occurs when an ego state sends a transactional response even though it did not receive the transactional stimulus. Crossed transactions may result in poor communication, which could lead to conflict. For instance, the Adult state in one person might question the Adult in another person, “Have you seen my coat?” as a transactional trigger. However, the Child in the second person may reply, “You always blame me for everything,” to the Parent in the first person to convey the transactional response.

In addition to being a crucial component of daily living, communication is also seen as a fundamental facet of what it is to be human. Even babies display the craving for recognition and appreciation. According to Spitz’s research, infants who had less holding, stroking, and snuggling were more likely to struggle with physical and psychological issues. Berne labelled this intrinsic desire for social approval as recognition-hunger and identified a stroke as the basic unit of social action or approval.

According to Berne, the Spitz studies’ negatively impacted offspring showed physical and emotional deficiencies as a result of a lack of strokes. Berne used this notion to adults and hypothesised that both sexes crave acknowledgment and need strokes. While adults could be fine with nods, winks, or grins as various forms of acknowledgement, infants might prefer solely tactile strokes.

Although strokes can be either positive or negative, Berne proposed that having a negative stroke is preferable to having none at all. For instance, when someone asks another out on a date and gets a flat no, that person might not find the rejection as hurtful as a total lack of acknowledgement.

Therapeutic Use of Transactional Analysis

Transactional analysis aims to strengthen the Adult state in the individual receiving therapy so they can obtain and keep their autonomy. Usually, a contract will be made between the patient and the therapist outlining the goals for the therapy session. This could encourage the therapist’s patient to accept accountability for things that happen in therapy. After that, the person will typically be better able to rely on their Adult ego states to recognise and analyse various thoughts, actions, and emotions that might impede their potential to flourish.

Transactional analysis thrives in a setting of warmth, security, and deference. A healthy relationship that develops between the therapist and the patient seeking treatment frequently serves as a template for other relationships that are later built outside of the therapy setting. Analysts who practise this type of therapy typically draw on a wide range of techniques from other fields, such as relational, cognitive behavioural, and psychodynamic treatments.

Who Benefits By Transactional Analysis?

In addition to therapy, transactional analysis is frequently used in the fields of medical, communication, education, and corporate management. This method has drawn parents, professionals, social workers, and other people who aim to maximise personal development due to its general appeal. One strategy that is seen to be beneficial for improving relationships with oneself and others is transactional analysis.

Studies have shown that transactional analysis, which is frequently used by counsellors and clinicians to address concerns the patient is now experiencing, can be a useful technique in the therapy of emotional problems and relational troubles that may arise as a result of long-term health issues.

The concept of transactional analysis is frequently utilised in the field of education, and it can be used to help students adopt educational tenets and philosophy into their daily life. Children and adults of various ages can receive this kind of therapy, regardless of their social situations.

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