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Transactional Analysis: The Ego State Model


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December 2013

Christmas and New Year with the Family

The Christmas and New Year holidays are a time when we make a huge investment.
We tend to think that this investment is wholly financial, and of course the cost of Christmas can make a large hole in the family income which requires repayment of some kind over the next few months.
We also make a large investment emotionally and want Christmas to be "the best ever" or idealise the season and have huge expectations of perfection. The media encourage us to hold this ideal family Christmas made perfect by the gifts they want to sell us set in the context of a smiling happy family.
Families come together in the hope that this year will be different that all the simmering or boiled over resentments from the past will not reoccur. We are endlessly optimistic that people who have never got on with one another will suddenly become close and love one another again. 
The realists, or pessimists may choose to spend this time alone with the clarity of previous family reunions still fresh in their memories and make the conscious choice to lick their wounds alone.
Of course their are many thousands of people who do not have a choice whether or not to spend time with their families. They live alone, or perhaps in prison, hospital, in the armed forces or work abroad.
For those who travel hundreds or thousands of miles to be with their families, reunited after years apart, living for 2 weeks in close proximity with family members they have had little contact with in the interim (maybe with very good reason) with alcohol flowing freely tensions build and hurtful accusations are made.
Relationships which are fragile for the most part set against high expectations "that this year will be different" and that everyone will get on for a change sets up all kinds of subconscious "games". Rows break out between the "usual suspects", sides are taken and the perfect family Christmas implodes to everyone's surprise.
If you are reading this hoping I will give you the answer to how to make the family Christmas work then you will be disappointed? You will get plenty of suggestions elsewhere on a "Stress Free Holiday Period" and once you have read through them all you may think this is all just common sense, which they are.
So why do we get blindsided? Why is it always such a surprise when it happens? Why do we go back again next year hoping the outcome will be different? Surely we will have learned how to be this time?
As a TA therapist I see "script" as a fundamental part of the whole Christmas holiday equation. The subconscious decision we all make as young children about how we are and will be in the world and what we can expect from others towards us. Our scripts can be banal, tragic or winning and the games we initiate and become involved in may be ( 1st, 2nd or 3rd level) minor, moderate or deadly. These aspects of ourselves come into play when we are under stress and the holiday period offers us plenty of opportunities for our scripts to unfurl.
If you are reading this as someone who is considering investing in counselling or psychotherapy in 2014 because the same bad things keep happening to you then I hope this blog may have been helpful to you. I welcome your feedback and wish you a Happy New Year for 2014.

Transactional Analysis: The Ego State Model

The Ego State: Structural Model
This diagram is a metaphor which represents our personality structure. The Parent ego state is "borrowed" or learnt from our parents, teachers and other significant adults when we were young. Some of the messages we absorbed are useful to us and others not depending on whom we borrowed the thoughts, feelings and behaviours from.
The Adult ego state is the rational, objective data processing centre of our personalities. This sees, hears, thinks and finds solutions to problems in the "here-and-now". The solutions are factual and neither judgemental (Parent) or based on emotions (Child).
The Child ego state is the seat of our emotional thoughts, feelings and behaviours. When In Child ego state we connect with our feeling memories from the past.
In my next blog I will look at the Functional model, how we communicate with the world and the positive and negative aspects of our personalities expressed through the 3 ego states. 

Transactional Analysis: The Basics

St Andrews Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice
What is Transactional Analysis (TA)?
Transactional Analysis(TA) is both a theory of personality and a system for the improvement of personal and social functioning.
TA is based on a contract between the client and therapist in which they take equal responsibility towards common goals.
TA is a system of analysis which can be applied to the structure of the personality,interpersonal communication, life plans
 or scripts and the “games people play”.
TA therapists believe that decisions we make about ourselves, others and the world, are made early in childhood and
continue to have a significant influence on how we live our lives in the present. By analysing the transactions, games and
unique life scripts, boththerapist and client gain an understanding of the client’s unconscious life plan.
Together the therapist and client work to bring the script decisions into awareness where they can then be changed
and new decisions made improving life,love and happiness.
Structural Analysis identifies 3 ego states: the Parent, Adult and Child. This model helps us to clarify our
life experiences, thoughts,feelings and behaviours as well as beliefs and values and how being indifferent ego states can
influence how we are in relationship with ourselves and others.
Analysis of Transactions looks at how we communicate with other people at a social and psychological level and
understand our need for“strokes” (attention and acknowledgement) which may be positive, good strokes or negative, bad strokes.
Script Analysis “How do we get to be the person we are?” A lifescript develops without being aware of it, to survive and live
within our families and culture, but becomes outdated as we live and grow. By analysing our scripts we can change the decisions
 we made as children, when we were too little, to realise all the options we might have had. We can then make new decisions from
 our Adult ego state.
Analysis of Games People learn to play psychological games in childhood to fit into their family dynamics and continue these
games into adulthood to provide security, structure, strokes and stimulation. These games are in our subconscious, out of our
conscious awareness. The games follow predictable patterns and leave us feeling bad and reinforce the negative view we have 
of ourselves and others. The client and therapist can identify together the games people play, bring them into Adult awareness
 and learn how to recognise and avoid the games.
TA Therapists have completed 4 years training and go on to do advanced work under clinical supervision, personal therapy
 and examination preparation to qualify as a Certified Transactional Analyst. TATherapists training prepare them to work with
individuals, groups and couples.
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