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.