The Counselling Directory tells us, “Transactional analysis (TA) is a widely recognised form of modern psychology that involves a set of practical conceptual tools designed to promote personal growth and change. It is considered a fundamental therapy for well – being and for helping individuals to reach their full potential in all aspects of life.”

On 21st January 2016 a number of us gathered to hear a presentation from Nigel Dawson, Transactional Analyst.

Nigel started by telling the group about his background working in primary care and in patient services. Nigel told us that one of his most rewarding roles was working with the homeless, providing counselling and psychotherapy, which also included asylum seekers and refugees.

Nigel told us that TA is a decisional model. Some of the main focus areas of TA include Life Scripts and Ego states.

Nigel was able to illustrate these by using diagrams, welcoming questions as he went along. We learnt we all have a Life Script. Using the image of a person floating in water, Nigel explained that as individuals, we all have “floats” – our defences which we use in times of pressure. When the floats stop working…we enter therapy. You then look at what is going on under the surface of the water. Nigel explained that in TA the things that bring you down are good things. All feelings are good feelings.

We then went on to look at PAC models/ Ego States. Nigel explained there are three ego states:

Parent: Feelings, behaviours and thoughts imposed upon us from parents or other care givers, siblings, teachers etc

Adult: Feelings, behaviours and thoughts in the here and now

Child: Feelings, behaviours and thoughts we replay from childhood
In each of these Ego states, when we communicate, we create transactions. Usually, the ego states blend and transactions are healthy, however, some ego states can contaminate each other and transactions become less healthy. It is these contaminated transactions that are worked on in TA to create a true Ego state.
There are a number of very useful tools that Nigel illustrated to the group that can beused in therapy including Ernst’s OK Corral ( , Karpman’s Drama Triangle ( and The Winner’s Triangle.
It is difficult to do justice to Nigel’s presentation without reproducing the diagrams he presented. Nigel referred us to his website blog (address above).
Transactional Analysis is a complex form of therapy which involves many hundreds of hours of study, supervised placement, supervision and personal development and to fully understand it in a 90 minute presentation is impossible.
The aim of TA is to offer clients an opportunity to grow and change and learn life skills that can be transferred into many areas of life, both present and futuristically. It is best used to promote understanding, communication and relationships.
Nigel recommended further reading by Carlo Moiso.
Samantha Goldberg, (Dip Couns), MBACP