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 jamaica@usataa.org

The TA Tree: A Tool for Teaching TA to New Clients (By Catherine O’Brien, MFT, TAPI)

“There are two TA’s: the one we care trained to think in and use in understanding our clients, which is not simple, and the direct language we use in speaking to clients, which is simple.” – William Cornell

How can I teach TA to new clients??  That is a challenge. Even though TA is simple and effective, there are so many definitions and diagrams that clients (and new therapists) can get confused or overwhelmed.

When I was an organizational trainer, I learned three elements were necessary to convey new information in an effective way. 1.  Good visuals 2. Simple definition/diagrams 3. A good story.  These 3 elements help clients and students absorb the new data, and gives them a system and structure for continued learning, and relates the information to their lives.

1. Good Visuals

“A picture is worth a 1000 words.” When I drive to a new location, I need a road map.  I need to see how I am getting to my destination. I need to see the journey as a whole, ‘the big picture’.  Unless I get the big picture, I don’t grasp simple concepts. 

But since principles for personal growth are abstract and conceptual, how can I put those concepts in visual form?  I came up with a visual tool that includes seven basic TA principles—belief systems and behaviors—that contribute to an authentic life.  I put it in an electronic book, called “The Seven Principles for Creating an Authentic Life.”  I use the picture (and metaphor) of a flourishing tree to represent an authentic life.

Most people can understand the principles of nature. They know a healthy tree needs two things-a good root system, and strong branches.  The root system requires good, rich, nourishing soil ( in order for the roots to grow deep into the soil). A good root system provides stability and strength. As a result, the tree emerges with strong, healthy, flourishing branches. 

A flourishing tree is a metaphor for a flourishing life. This diagram shows two TA belief systems and five behaviors that contribute to an authentic, flourishing life. The Seven Principles helps clients see how belief systems (root system) and behaviors (branches) come together to create an authentic life. 

2. Simple Definitions and Diagrams

I teach my clients and students seven basic TA concepts using short, concise phrases. So Principle 3 “Understanding Self and Others” represents a BIG, complex subject, but it is summarized in simple, easy-to-remember terms.  I explain that each principle has a corresponding TA diagram that we use to understand our belief systems and behaviors.   

And as in nature, I gently remind them that change and growth takes time.  Changing ones’ belief systems or learning new behaviors requires persistence and patience. The TA Tree is a simple reminder of the tools they can employ to work on these area of their life.

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3. A Good Story

This is the story I tell my clients/students about using The Seven Principles with an actual client.

A few years back, a physician came to see me.  She was recently divorced, depressed, and desperate. She also was impatient, and wanted good results now.

I said “When you see a new patient, how do you proceed on the first visit?” She said, “I take a history.  I rule out what does not apply to the patient. Then I come up with a treatment plan”.        I told her we would do the same process.

After explaining the Seven Principles, I asked her to identify areas she was already doing well, and areas she needed work.  She said “My childhood was fine.  I think I have good foundational beliefs about life. But I have been told I talk down to people. And I work too much.” Together, we identified 2 areas for work— good communication (principle 4) and Time Structuring (principle 5).  We made a contract to address these 2 behaviors and skills (treatment plan). 

As we continued our work, other principles came into play.  But she was very clear on what she wanted, and how she could get there.  

Summary:

The Seven Principles Tree helps clients can see the ‘big picture’. They can choose the areas on which they want to work, and ‘rule out’ areas they are already doing well.  In my experience, most clients want to focus on 2-3 areas. This clear direction for the counseling process gives a client confidence and hope. Throughout the process, they can refer back to the flourishing tree, and remind themselves what it takes to have a authentic life.

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For TA teachers, The Seven Principles Tree and The TA Tree gives them a visual tool to teach TA belief systems and behaviors. They can post a copy next to the dry erase board, and refer to it during sessions.  It makes their task to teaching TA easier, and can be taught to individuals, couples, families, businesses, and groups. It serves as an introduction to TA. It is my hope that is it is a springboard for more TA exploration. 

The Seven Principles for Creating an Authentic Life is available through iBookstore.  For more information about the TA Tree, or other tools, contact Catherine M. O’Brien at theTAteacher@gmail.com

What Do You Like Most About TA?

 

Practitioners of Transactional Analysis were interviewed on their use of and appreciation for TA during the 2013 USATAA conference. USATAA proudly re-posts this wonderful video that features highlights from several of those interviews.