Transactional Analysis Journal (TAJ) Free Trial

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.

USATAA Council Retreat in Tucson

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.