Get access to the Transactional Analysis Journal (TAJ) until 31st August 2017 by registering here: http://journals.sagepub.com/tax/tajfreetrial
The TAJ is a multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal focusing on transactional analysis theory, principles, and applications in various fields, including psychotherapy, counseling, education, and organizational development. Published quarterly since 1971, it offers scholarly articles from all theoretical perspectives and fields of application, including quantitative and qualitative research, case studies, literature surveys, book reviews, and reflective essays. Two of the four annual issues are organized around specific themes.
The USATAA social justice committee springs from a suggestion by Catherine O’Brien, General Coordinator, that interested council members form a social justice committee. The social justice circle of interest advances open discussion of social and cultural issues, promotes socio-education, diversity, and egalitarianism through the frame of transactional analysis, seeks to recognize the contributions of our colleagues engaged in social justice applications of transactional analysis (TA), and records developing social justice theory and practices among our community members.
Dr. Eric Berne did not advocate for political parties, nor does the social justice circle. Social justice is defined as the fair treatment and genuine respect for people at the social level. We have elected to define social justice broadly, as promoting I’m OK – You’re OK attitudes, safety, and respect among people.
Readers and long term members will recall that social action traditions among transactional analysts began in 1961 with the San Francisco Social Psychiatry Seminars’ sponsorship of George, a six-year-old boy from Crete, whose father was killed in the late 1950’s by an abandoned WWII mine (TAB, 1962).[i] Worldwide, transactional analysts continue this tradition, working within diverse communities to provide access to TA tools and philosophical principles, including respect for all human dignity, problem-solving capacities, and worth. These foundational, humanitarian principles gesture toward equality among races, classes, genders, sexual orientation, and different abilities. Prejudice was Berne’s standard nomenclature for psychopathology that arises from contamination of the Adult ego states by the Parent ego states; this terminology conveys Berne’s commitment to social equity. Along with these humanitarian principles, Berne designated TA a social psychiatry and obliged members to be proficient at analyses of groups and organizational systems, as well as the interactions and personality of individuals. These principles and requirements, his anti-authoritarian use of contractual methodology, and theoretical focus on physis and free child energy signal transactional analysis social justice applications for humanity and encapsulate our professional ethics of fairness and fidelity.
Founding social justice committee members, Janice Dowson, Bob Hempel, and Cheryl Leong, are pleased to welcome new members to this discursive circle of interest. We invite you to welcome Inger Acking and Reiko True to this committee! Reiko and Inger each have a lengthy history of social activism as redecision therapists in our (TA) community. These women exemplify the Gouldings’ core principles of self-determination, personal responsibility, and direct action. Their presence will augment our social justice tradition as well as our mission to maintain the integrity of TA philosophical principles as they apply to social justice concerns in our practice and theory, by encouraging egalitarian values, facilitating awareness of institutionalized injustices, and enabling understanding and respect in their personal and professional lives.
The following brief introductions illuminate the breadth and diversity each committee member contributes to our social justice collaboration.
Reiko True – I have mainly focused on the inequity of support services for the racial minorities, women, and disabled persons. Through advocacy, I have pioneered the development of culturally and linguistically responsive services to racial minorities, women, DV victims, and mentally ill.
Inger Acking –Through practicing redecision therapy with diverse populations I have worked to erode the systems of oppression and decrease all repressive isms. Bob and Mary’s teaching that “the power is in the patient” has remained a strong aspect of social justice that has empowered people by recognizing their power–and as a side effect, people have become more socially active.
Rev. Robert L. Hempel- For me, the scope of social justice is broadly founded on the principle that all persons are created equal around the world. My social justice concerns have extended to caring deeply for the environment, rights to safe working conditions and fair wages, racial and gender equality. In my early TA training, Denton Roberts and the Haimowitz’s reinforced this dual focus on a level playground and our ability to create social change; their influence underpinned my social justice work as a minister of the United Church of Christ and has served as a thrust in my role as USATAA Facebook moderator and committee participation.
Cheryl Leong – I am a CA licensed psychotherapist and leadership coach. My social justice work has included a 20-year journey offering LGBTQ education/consultation for mental health professionals in Singapore and San Francisco. Being part of the 90s “zen hacker” movement, I believe that a truly “free internet” can level the playing field worldwide. Currently, I am advocating for quality and free online TA education for all.
Janice Dowson – In my clinical and teaching practice in Canada, I have concentrated my social activism on developing individual autonomy and collective resistance against the effects of class and gender bias. My graduate work emphasized the intersection of race, class, and gender through critiques of social injustices against women and Indigenous peoples. Presently, I promote increased awareness of what Kendall calls “white privilege” in my social justice work, while as a clinician and teacher I have advocated for widespread accessibility to training and mental health services.
Our diverse committee works for social justice awareness through raising questions and conversation, inviting and participating in “integrated” Adult (Berne, 1961, p.195) to Adult discussions of social issues as they relate to transactional analysis practice and theory. We expect that all blog responses will remain consistent with this spirit of thoughtful, inquiring integrated Adult to convey mutual respect for differences in beliefs and experience.
Berne, Eric. (1961). Transactional analysis in psychotherapy. New York: Grove.
“George (Our sponsored orphan in Crete).” Transactional analysis bulletin 1:4. Oct. 1962.
 Catherine’s excellent organizational model expresses her vision that has expanded to include the following circles of interest: Psychotherapy & Counselling; Education; Self-Help & Personal Development; Social Justice; Organizational Training & Leadership Resources.
 These terms are excerpted from the listed criteria for the ITAA Bob and Mary Goulding Social Justice award.
 Berne’s (1961) structural term, “integrated Adult” combines qualities of personal responsiveness, objective reasoning, reality-testing, feelings of ethical responsibility toward humanity and a worldwide ethos of courage, loyalty, and sincerity (p. 195). Berne’s nomenclature for these second order structural elements, Ethos and Pathos borrows from Aristotle’s classical transactional modes to convey their enduring social and humanitarian qualities.
FREE ONLINE TA BASICS CLASS, By Catherine O’Brien, MFT, TAPI
- Tools to Understand People,
- Communicate Effectively, and Solve Problems
- You will learn and have fun learning about yourself and others.
- This is an introduction to TA and is a preview of the TA Practitioner Program.
- Dates-Two sessions of Thursday Nights, August 24th, and 31st
- Time- 7:00-8:00 pm Pacific time
- Zoom Video Conference Training, connect from anywhere in the world!
- To register email Catherine O’Brien TheTATeacher@gmail.com
Transactional Analysis is a clear, easy-to-understand theory of personality, communication, and path to personal change. TA Principles are shown in clear diagrams and described in plain language. TA is excellent for a program for teachers, therapists, college students, parents, and trainers.
TA Practitioner Program
The TA practitioner program (TAP) provides instruction for people interested in more in-depth learning of TA. TA Basics and 50 hours are needed. The program will help you practice learning and teaching the key concepts of TA, and apply TA tools to various problem situations.
• Thursday nights on line from 7-9:00 pm
• September 14-December 21 (one break)
Instructor: Catherine M. O’Brien, TAP Instructor
To sign up for the free class, send an email to: theTATeacher@gmail.com
Three years ago, while waiting for a prescription to be filled at the drugstore, I picked up a copy of the current Scientific American. I scanned through an article by Meinard Kuhlmann, a theoretical physicist, who was offering in non-mathematical terms a way that a ‘quantum particle’ might be understood.
He suggested that a quantum particle could be conceptualized as a bundle of statistical probabilities and only when that particle encounters another particle is one of those possibilities actualized and thereby be observed in the ‘real’ world. What is thereby created depends in part on the characteristics of the particle it encounters.
That is a great description of exactly how we experience ‘personality’. I believe that this metaphor offers insight into why TA can be such an effective psychotherapeutic technique for bringing about change.
Although TA offers many possibilities for helping change to occur, to me the most important aspect of TA is that it is based on empirical observations. Using the quantum particle as a guide, the theory and practice of TA is built on the observation of what is created when two particles (here, personalities) interact. Freud’s ego, id and superego are hypothetical constructs describing an individual personality. The identification of an ego state in TA, on the other hand, is based on what is can be observed when two personalities transact with (encounter) each other. Their identity can be confirmed by independent observations. The ego states are learned ways of responding to the world during the developmental process from the womb to adulthood by experiencing and responding to those who are already adults around them. Such situations can be observed (or remembered) and their outcomes can be predicted.
Such independent observations are required for establishing a true scientific discipline. The scientific method also uses metaphors which guide the scientist in organizing the data which he or she is observing. From such observations, they can then theorize and predict.
Using the metaphor of the personality as a quantum particle, one’s personality can be characterized as a bundle of statistical possibilities. And the particular possibility which is actualized (observed) depends on the characteristics of that which it encounters—that is the ‘transaction’. The cluster of characteristics which is identified as a rebellious Child, for example, can only be observed by observing what is created as it encounters a controlling Parent. Water cannot be understood by studying oxygen or hydrogen independently. Only by examining the new substance they create as they are interacting (transacting) can water be understood.
Likewise, the personality. Once I took the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory in two different situations—once at work and once in my faith community. In the former, my scores were ESTJ but in the latter, they were INFP–the complete opposite. My day job was as a clinical statistician analyzing drugs studies to present to the FDA; my faith community was an experimental church exploring spiritual aspects of life in a communal context. The contexts actualized different possibilities in my ‘personality’.
Those who use the 12-step program of AA realize the danger of putting themselves in a situation where their addiction might be energized (actualized). The antidote is not to try to struggle with that experience—that would tend to strengthen it. They know that by calling their mentor they can help control their behavior because their encounter with their mentor actualizes a different aspect of their personality.
One of the reasons there are so many different theories of personality and therapeutic techniques is that they focus on an individual—whose personality has an almost indefinite number of possibilities. The theory of personality one develops depends on what questions one asks. And they are all true! They are trying to understand the sound of one hand clapping. One must study the sound that two hands make—like Berne did; like the Gottmans did; but like very few therapists do.
When considering the possibility of change, the statistical aspect is critical. The statistical probability is largely set as one figure out how to respond to the world he or she is experiencing. Everyone is born with an almost indefinite number of possibilities. I would claim that every diagnosis in the DSM is one of the indefinite possibilities of every human being (unless one is severely brain damaged). If an appropriate ‘other particle’ encounters them, one of those diagnoses is created. And therein is the opportunity for a therapist to help create change in a client.
As you use the various concepts of TA to transact with a client, consider the quantum particle—what new creations are actualized as your process goes forward? What is being actualized between you and your client? In order to become autonomous, certain probabilities might need to be increased as you and your client transact. The ‘Ego-Gram’ looks very much like a traditional histogram in statistics suggesting what statistical probabilities need to be increased.
It seems to me that Milton Erickson was often so unique but effective because he sensed which of the possibilities of his client needed their ‘statistical probability’ increased so that their life would be freer, more balanced and more autonomous. Then he gave his clients specific orders to do unique things that would actualize those possibilities so they could experience them by encountering that ‘other particle’ —other experience, other person, other entity.
The bottom line for TA practitioners:
- Always be skeptical of studies of one hand clapping. Study of body parts can give some information about what a person has been doing and is, therefore, more likely to do in the future, but only when both hands clap, can the sound itself be experienced.
- In using TA, always observe the sound of two hands clapping, and consider what might be hindering a full sound from being produced.
- Never forget that your client and you are both bundles of infinite statistical possibilities “waiting” to be actualized.
Knowing how to play is one of the characteristics found in USATAA members, and especially, our Council. We spent two days meeting in Tucson this spring, covering everything from membership and budget to social media and visions for the future. We even beamed in Cheryl Leong from San Francisco by laptop for part of the meeting. Thanks to Dianne Maki for making comfortable and fun arrangements. As you can see, we enjoy each other’s company as well as our productive work.
Bob Hempel, TAP, is USATAA’s Facebook host and has created a space where members and interested individuals can connect. He recently launched a new FB group: Where in The World is TA. This interview reveals how he expanded the USATAA community on social media
Cheryl: Tell us more about you and how you use TA professionally.
Bob: I discovered TA two years before I was ordained as a Christian minister. When David Kupfer and Bob Goulding introduced me to TA in 1967, I immediately understood that I could use TA as a psychological tool in my ministry. Between then and now, TA poses no conflict with my Christian values. Human life is valuable for both disciplines — I am valuable, OK, and you are valuable, OK. TA has been helpful model in moving me though the mazes of human relationships. I learned now to use intuition to discover how to respond to a grieving spouse and make a precise comment to ease their discomfort. (To a young member whose husband suddenly died, “You two were madly in love.” To which Beth nodded her head after a hug.) How to listen to a phone call from an angry, drunken parishioner. (Bob would drink and unload his pent-up anger in a phone call about once a year.) To discover when a game was occurring within a group or with an individual. Then, I would figure out how to respond appropriately. (I say, “My gut says our discussion is stuck. I hear everyone saying, “Yes, but ..,” in their responses to each other.”)
Cheryl: What has it been like applying TA to your work?
Bob: Frankly Cheryl, TA has been resource in order to keep my sanity, especially in times of crisis. A woman angrily attacked me for voting for Marriage Equality at a national church governing body. She argued with me that that I couldn’t vote on a matter that her church didn’t approve. I reminded her I represented her church and a hundred more churches plus my personal theological conscious. Later, I performed a “spiritual” wedding (non-legal) for her and her long-time boyfriend. Also she read her daughter’s diary after her death. She thanked me for my TA therapy with her deceased child. I use this case study to say TA has been a “blessing”.
Cheryl: What motivated you to start the USATAA FB group?
Bob: I have used the internet and was editing websites for many years. When I first started on the Council (2012), I was managing another FaceBook page for my church group reaching hundreds. At my first Council meeting, I asked the how come we didn’t have a FB page. I heard some “waffling” and comments, “I don’t how to start one.” Catherine OBrien asked me if I would create a FB page. I said, “I will have one up before the day is over”. They agreed. And, I created the page that afternoon. As I write this, the USAATA FaceBook page has 681 members from around the world.
Cheryl: What motivated you to start the Where in The World is TA FB Group?
Bob: Family, friends and others told me that TA was dead. Many church people said that TA was a ’60’s fad. They were once in a book study for Berne’s Games People Play or Harris’ I am OK, You’re Ok. I knew that those clergy and church people who had bothered to train themselves as a TA therapist remained. These folk knew TA was much more than a “self-help fad” or a “flash in the pan” psychology. I am still angered by the psychiatrist who told me to “watch out for third-degree burns.” Thus, those experiences were my motivation to create the page. The final motivation came from my work at the USATAA Council meeting in Tucson, AZ, USA, this past April. I chose this FB page as a way to “grow” TA by locating the people in world who are using TA. In one month, we have 51 members from around the world, including Arizona; California; Colorado; Illinois; New York; and, North Carolina in the USA. In other countries, members included are from Canada; United Kingdom; Pula, Croatia; Bucharest, Romania; Germany; Poznań, Poland; Helsinki, Finland; France; Switzerland; and Scotland. My goal is to to develop a world-wide TA support community where we can meet and greet one another. Where we can share our “brags” and come to the aid when one needs help. Thus far, we are off to a good start.
Cheryl: What can you tell USATAA members about Facebook connections. What are your observations/thoughts/feelings?
Bob: FaceBook is like any another social arena. The heaviest thing I know is—it is not the circumstances in life that are important, it is how I chose to respond. FB may be used as a tool for communication—positive or negative. It is the responsibility of the user to govern its input and output. The recent FB miss-uses where human life is at stake is scary. I believe FB management should take them down as a matter of public safety within reason. Our TA pages have had minor problems. Advertisers (the “sun shade” ads–anger me the most) and people not promoting TA have been removed. More of these problems came in the past while most new members are legitimate people who want to support TA.
Cheryl: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Bob: If you are not a member of either page. Join ASAP. You will find a welcome community on both pages. I would add a “shout out” from my shameless commerce department. I offer three workshops: “Recover your Joy”; “Love Yourself; Use Your Devices” (social media); “Joyful Pastoral Care”; and, custom designed workshops. For detailed information, visit the link: resurrectionpastoralcare.org for dates and fees for the workshop of your choice.
Robert L. Hempel, M.Th. T.A.P. , La Grange Park, Illinois, U.S.A.
“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.
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