Book Review:  The OK Boss, by Muriel James (1975). Illustrations by John Trotta.

 “The OK Boss” is available used, on Amazon

“The OK Boss” is one of Muriel James’ many reader-friendly guides on how to apply TA to everyday life situations. As she states in the introduction, “ At one time or another, almost everyone is a boss: Parents, spouses, teachers, and employers”.  Here, she shows you how you can become an OK boss using TA techniques, using stories and familiar workplace scenarios that so many can relate to. The objective is for the reader to recognize the bossing styles of others and of themselves, to understand their behaviors, and their OK and not OK attitudes at work and at home.

Bossing Styles:

The Critic—from (not OK) Critical Dictator to  (OK) Informed Critic

The Coach—from (not OK) Benevolent Dictator to (OK) Supportive Coach

The Shadow–from (not OK) Loner to (OK) Liberator

The Analyst—from (not OK) Computer to (OK) Communicator

The Pacifier—from (not OK) Milquetoast to (OK) Negotiator

The Fighter—from (not OK) Punk to (OK) Partner

The Inventor—from (not OK) Scatterbrain to (OK) Innovator

With each bossing style, Muriel James covers the personalities (ego states), how each type gives strokes, transaction patterns, games bosses play, life positions/scripts bosses act, appropriate contracts and time structuring.  At the end of each chapter, there are 3 areas touched upon. Self Discovery: Analyzing yourself and your behaviors. What to do: How to change, with the underlying message of ‘you have the power to make different choices for different outcomes’. Guidelines for effective and efficient bossing: Characteristics of the OK boss in relation to the area discussed.

“The OK Boss” is an older text, but certainly a gem. A little of the wording may show as a bit dated, however the material is easily applied to today’s workplaces. It’s a book not only for the bosses in the world, but also for those who have a ‘boss’ in their lives.

My favorite part was seeing the many illustrations sprinkled throughout each section. I loved how the structural diagrams were made to look like side profiles of faces, and the expressions and thought bubbles really brought the concepts to life.

Reviewed By Karen Rightler, TAP

USATAA proudly celebrates Eric Berne’s 107th Birthday this month!
Share how Eric Berne’s work has influenced your personal and professional life in the comment section below!

USATAA Jamaica Gathering is Reborn for 2018

For those who thought they missed out on the final USATAA Jamaica Gathering, good news! We had a wonderful time at Frenchman’s Cove in February, expecting this to be the last time we would have a USATAA Gathering there. The people who attended, especially our German participants (Hans-Peter, I’m looking at you!), have declared otherwise, and USATAA agrees. Our week of sharing ideas and company in a beautiful, familiar tropical setting will happen again next January. Watch for the announcement! We hope you will be among the beneficiaries of this good fortune by attending in 2018. (Below are photos of us at the recent Winter 2017 gathering)


In Memoriam: William Krieger

William Krieger, PhD, former USATAA council member, a long-time ITAA member (since 1975) and former Script editor, died on 8 February 2017 from complications related to recent cancer surgery.

His close friend and colleague Abe Wagner writes, “It is with a sense of sadness that I write about Bill Krieger’s passing. He was an exceptional human being who spoke his mind with sincerity and assertiveness whenever it was important to do so. He was a great contributor to the mental health profession and will be greatly missed.”

Abe also recalls, “I hired Bill to be on my staff at a Colorado resident summer camp in the late 1950s. This was the start of a life-long friendship. Bill created an large cadre of TA followers in New Mexico and often recruited good numbers for workshops done by me and other TA presenters. We laughed a lot. He loved to create humorous situations, including by singing at our camp off key. I already miss my good friend.”

Bill a counselor and educator, a scholar and voracious reader. He loved to debate and did it very well. He also had a passion for Torah learning and taught many classes in it over the years, including starting the weekly Rio Rancho Torah Learning Group.

Bill’s was well-known and highly regarded throughout the United States, especially in the counseling field, which he championed for much of his professional career. His accomplishments included:

– An award-winning dissertation on the positive effects of summer camp

– President of the American Mental Health Counselors Association from 1991-1992

– National board member of the American Counseling Association

– Chair of the National Academy of Clinical Counselors

– National Mental Health Counselor of the Year Award from the American Mental Health Counselors Association

– Founder of the Enhancement Network and Enhancement Theory

Best known to ITAA members as Script editor for 5 years (1986-1990), Bill faithfully wrote a thoughtful, challenging, endearing column for each issue during that time. In his November 1987 he wrote these words, especially poignant as we mourn his passing:

“Life is a shopping spree in which every day we get to spend the seconds of our lives. Time is a finite commodity, yet we often value it less than money, an infinite commodity. How many of us ponder what we have bought with our time?

“Because there is death, we each have a finite number of seconds and minutes to spend. Although in the end some of us will have ended up having more time than others, the rules of life make it mandatory that we each go off on our shopping spree every day and spend 24 hours—no more, no less. No one has more time or less time to spend each day than anyone else.

“Being a winner involves the wise expenditure of the seconds of our lives. Eric Berne said winners are people who fulfill their contracts with themselves and the world—people who accomplish their declared purposes. I believe a winner puts as much thought into the purpose as into the ‘how.’ TA can give us little insight as to purpose; it can only give us some tools with which to accomplish this purpose. . . .

“Winners have clearly defined goals and purposes for their lives (i.e., they know what they are going shopping for). . . . Being a winner isn’t a one-time decision or a one-time event. It is a continuous struggle to be effective in accomplishing your goal—to wisely spend the seconds of your life.”

Those who knew Bill have no doubt that he was a winner through and through and that he spent the seconds and minutes and days and years of his life making the world a better place, with intelligence, commitment, dignity, and humor. He will be long remembered and sorely missed.

Bill was laid to rest on Sunday 13 February in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Remembering Claude Steiner (By Lucy Freedman, CTA)

I first heard of Claude as the author of the Warm Fuzzy Tale, and of Games Alcoholics Play, but when I read my first article in Issues in Radical Therapy, the publication of the Radical Psychiatry movement, I was completely won over. I was already attuned to the issues of American imperialism and feminism from a personal and political point of view. To read his explanation of the difference between native power and position power was to grasp how my work with clients could be connected with the kinds of social change in which I fervently believed. Between Claude’s work on relationships, including No Power Plays and No Secrets, and his partner Hogie wyckoff’s work on true equality, I found inspiration for linking personal and social change to which I adhere to this day. Claude’s brilliant understanding of how the whole system maintains artificial scarcities of power, strokes, etc. to control people, is something I wish we could transmit to every child growing up anywhere in the world.

As I got to know people in ITAA and became a friend as well as follower, I valued Claude’s advice. When I considered my run for President of ITAA in the mid-eighties, I consulted Claude to see what he thought. I wasn’t sure that ITAA was a good vehicle for my leadership. He pointed out that it was the vehicle that was available to me, and encouraged me to run.

I often observe the irony that people teach what they need to learn, from Eric Berne on down. In Claude’s case, I noticed his ability to show people the stroke economy, to encourage Permission for giving and receiving strokes, while he tended not to take strokes in for himself. On at least one occasion, I made it a personal mission to insist that he take in the strokes that people had for him. I took great pleasure in holding him to his principles, and watching him receive even a small portion of his due.

While he could appear crusty, and would willingly argue over key points of TA, Claude was truly loving and caring, and made the effort to travel and teach where he was invited. I know he loved his ranch in Northern California, and that he joined with others in social experiments both on the land and in his Bay Area office. He continued to write and develop ideas that challenged the status quo throughout his life. Claude contributed to the liberation of the human spirit, and I hope that in his passing, he felt the satisfaction of a life well lived and a legacy that will continue to ripple outward.

The Final USATAA Winter Gathering in Jamaica- By Lucy Freedman, CTA

Time for Renewal: Mind, Body, and Soul in Jamaica

How ‘givers’ can avoid the midwinter burnout blues Jamaica

Each time I arrive at Frenchman’s Cove, Jamaica, for our USATAA Gathering, I breathe in the warm, scented, tropical air, and am reminded of how much effect a place can have on our overall experience. Time seems to slow as we become present to the sounds and images of jungle, ocean, and birds. Nurturing is the word that describes this place. 

By the time we enter our circle of stimulating and diverse colleagues on Sunday morning, we are already at ease. From there we design our “un-conference” so that presentations and discussions flow smoothly through our schedule for the week. 

One of the aspects that I most enjoy is the self-awareness we bring to how we organize. Using what’s called “Open Space Technology,” the community follows the energy, and works together to create an educational and transformative program. What occurs is both planned and emergent. 

The learnings from the process itself feed my work as a consultant to self-managing organizations, as well as helping me understand my own impact and feelings. As someone who tends to give emotionally and otherwise (I’m guessing you know something about this too!), this conference is a restorative practice that feeds all three: mind, body and soul. 

You can still register; you don’t need prior experience with transactional analysis; you’ll meet people from Europe, the US, and Jamaica, from various professional fields; you’ll relax at the beach; and you’ll learn about Jamaica and its culture, in the most affordable week-long residential program you are likely to find anywhere

When? Feb. 4-11, 2017. Where? Port Antonio, Jamaica. 

So, what’s stopping you from signing up right now? Follow the link for fees and registration form. Direct your questions to me, Lucy Freedman, at