by Giles Barrow

TA: Education; Schools

I’m OK – You’re OK is arguably the most enduring touchstone of Transactional Analysis (TA).

Founded by Eric Berne in the 1960s, popularised during the 1970s, many readers may recall a distant reference to TA in their professional training or a personal awareness course. Some readers might have come across references to TA more recently, and most readers may be surprised to discover that children and young people around the country are discovering about TA in classrooms. This article provides an account of how TA is experiencing a renaissance in the UK and that the central arena for this resurgence is in education.

For those readers unfamiliar with TA, it is a humanistic psychological framework that, like many such perspectives, offers ways of understanding;

  • how people grow up
  • how people communicate
  • how people see the world

The distinctive features of TA are the core beliefs underpinning the theoretical concepts. To summarise these are:

  • that people are essentially OK, hence the ‘I’m OK – You’re OK’ catch-phrase
  • that everyone can think; make sense of information, consider options and make choices
  • that anyone can change, learn and grow

For the most part TA has been practised in the context of psychotherapy and counselling. Most practitioners in the UK work in a clinical/talking therapy context. However, there have always been practitioners utilising TA in organisational and educational contexts. Over the past five years there has been a noticeable increase in the rate and range of education professionals using TA concepts in their work.

Over the past couple of years I have been involved in sharing TA ideas with hundreds of educators around the country. As a qualified Transactional Analyst in the field of education I am often invited to contribute to professional development both in terms of formal training events, as well as on-going mentoring and team teaching arrangements. Importantly this work has been in both mainstream and specialist contexts. Some examples of TA being used in special schools and units include the following:

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Other articles on TA in education:

     Introducing a Meta-Metaphor for Developmental TA