Easter may have gone but we’re not yet donning jingle bells around our knees nor skipping around May poles. Hoping you had your fill of buns and chocolate be it milk, dark, diabetic or any other alergen free treat.
I promised last month to look at how Transactional Analysis might add extra insight into relationships with a loved one or client with an A.B.I. – how T.A. might help.
Ever tried to see the point of view of someone else? Maybe you end up saying: “I don’t know where you’re coming from.” Or when someone said something hurtful, as if out of nowhere, you’ve said: “Where did that come from?” Perhaps someone else has said this to you and you’ve not known yourself.
Where That Came From
We looked at the three “ego states”last month – Parent; Adult; Child. These are three simpler way of viewing our frame of mind – especially the networks of feelings, thoughts and behaviour during our interactions with others.
When our words and attitude towards another lay the law down, having decided that person is in the wrong, those words are as if from a Parent.
When our words are factual and fair so that compromise by everyone is most likely, we are “behaving like Adults”.
Our Child is viewed as taking control if our feelings are so strong, we go back into old ways that were helpful before, but not now.
In everyday life, we don’t just say one word or sentence to someone and then walk away from them; we ask them to respond, or look for their reaction. We have conversations. Each back-and-forth statement is a “transaction”.
Ordinarilly, our frame of mind is changing as fast as we react and respond to the Parent, Adult and Child of others. But what when one of us has a brain injury? It depends on the type of person and extent of their brain injury.
For example, some time ago, I worked with someone presenting with expressive aphasia. Let’s call her Daisy. Paraphrasing, I learnt quickly, was a no-no. Making sure I understood Daisy correctly was doubly difficult. If I didn’t repeat back to her precisely the same words she’d used, and in the same order, Daisy believed me stupid; even though to my mind my sentence meant the same as hers, she would get very impatient with me.
Daisy’s default ego state was Parent. (This also had been reflected in her choice of job prior to her injury.) It’s possible her injury caused her ego state to be less flexible.
How did I cope? Honesty. I apologised, said I was slow to learn, and maintained a judgemental tone as I kind of told myself off. My words (one of which was often used by Daisy) were Adult, my tone with myself (as she listened) was Parental.
Types of Transactions
These are transactions that parallel one another. Ideally, they are realistic and factual, from person to person – both as Adults. Parent to Parent is also parallel. Child to Child too. But Adult to Adult works best. Both people want to have a mutually good outcome.
Crossed transactions can happen when one person misreads the other person’s ego state. Even when one person talks from an Adult stance, the other person might respond from vulnerable feelings (Child) or believing the speaker is being insubordinate (Parent). Not helpful.
Here we are into gameplay. There’s a more complex transaction on two levels at once – social and psychological. And it is important that both people understand what game is being played! Ulterior transactions happen when someone says something but means something else.
N.B: As family, friends, carers, therapists or other supporting professionals, the onus is on us to pay attention and respond in the appropriate way. If and when possible, our goal must be to bring out and engage with the other person’s own Adult self. The best way to do that is with our own.
Until next month, take care. I’ll leave you with a useful presentation by the Latimer Group called The Recipe for Great Communication
Source: Berne, E: “Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy”
Grove Press; NEW YORK; 1961