Humans are highly sophisticated group animals. We need positive, nurturing relationships with other human beings at every stage of our lives. We also have to maintain relationships with people who cause us stress and we might not like.
Often we don't learn about relationships in a coherent way, relying on what we glean from watching others and a lot of trial and error. Unsurprisingly this doesn't equip us very well, resulting in all sorts of wildly inaccurate guesses and assumptions that repeatedly mess up our best relational intentions.
TA's simple, elegant and direct language cuts through the complexities and explains what's happening when we relate to others, be it a quick conversation at the bus stop, or a decades long marriage which has suddenly hit the rocks.
Transactional Analysis has its roots in the detailed analysis of transactions and relationships. Over many years TA researchers have synthesised incredibly detailed insights about human relationships into a simple framework that makes sense of how we interact with others. One of the amazing things about TA is the researchers decided to use simple, explicit laypersons language to describe their insights, making the complex easily understandable. Transactional Analysis is therefore an ideal way to work with relationship issues, be they with a partner, within a family, at work or amongst friends.
TA relationship therapy works in 4 stages
- "What is happening?" -
- The first stage introduces the tools that help you understand how we communicate. There's usually an "Aha" moment when you notice people behaving just as TA describes. This can be a little un-nerving because you realise this has been happening all around you, all your life and you hadn't noticed.
- "Why is this happening?" -
- The second stage explores the reasons why you behave in the way you do. It looks at the messages you received as you grew up, and how you learned to get your needs met. This stage is often marked by frustration because you can see what's happening and you begin to understand why it's happening but you find it difficult to work out what to do instead. which brings us to......
- "What could I do differently?" -
- This part is where we use TA tools to explore the subconscious filtering processes we all have that try to make our lives simpler. Unfortunately these often filter out lots of good options so we subconsciously drastically limit outselves, sometimes to the point where we feel we have no choice or only a choice between equally unpleasant options.
- In this stage we explore our filters and adjust them to make them a better fit to our life right now. Being able to consciously appraise more options an essential part of making appropriate choices in relationships.
- This can be quite challenging because we often become aware of more options after the event. A significant part of this stage is becoming OK with yourself as a work in progress and learning to be compassionate with yourself as you learn new skills.
- As time goes on you'll begin to notice that the time available to make choices seems to expand. Because you have a better understanding of what's going on, you're less stressed and there's more space to sense options, make choices and act on them in real time.
- "How do I support myself to continue to things differently?" -
- This last stage is about putting in place a framework that supports you, increases your resilience and reduces stress. You will have learned earlier in the process the link between relationship stress and problems making choices in the heat of the moment. In this stage we explore how to develop a "practice", a routine that you can use when you sense your options are reducing and your filters need adjusting.
- This stage is also about learning to tolerate relational stress and maintaining TA's core "I'm OK - You're OK" view of yourself and others. It also maps out how you might further develop your relational awareness to support not just yourself but others you love and care for.
- This stage also gives you the tools needed to relate to people you find challenging and maintain healthy personal boundaries.
Because TA is simple and direct it's easy to pass on it's tools. People who've been through TA therapy often find that others sense a change in them and begin to ask for advice about how to handle difficult situations.
If you'd like to find out more please contact me here.