It occurred to me it might be of use to those interested in either a long or a short version of my answer to write it down in one place, which is what I have done in this article. Whether you read carefully through the entire article or just focus on a few sections, I hope this will be of use to those who are interested in the question of what Transactional Analysis is and how it is practiced.
Like many other therapies, Transactional Analysis therapy is primarily “talk therapy”. We work on the basis of a specific body of theory originally developed by Dr. Eric Berne and elaborated in various ways by others of us in the field since Berne’s premature death in l970.
Berne was a practicing psychoanalyst before he developed the theory and practice of Transactional Analysis. Originally it was used in psychotherapy or treatment, as he called it, particularly in group treatment, but it soon became clear that it was also useful in a wide variety of fields, including counseling, organizational work , and education.
Although Berne’s first published book, “The Mind in Action” (l947) offered a simple description of basic psychoanalytic concepts, he became increasingly critical of psychoanalytic therapy. As a result, he began the San Francisco Psychiatry Seminars (which eventually became the International Transactional Analysis Association), to teach his own approach. He also spelled out his theory in his basic books, “Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy,” (l961), “The Structure and Dynamics of Organizations and Groups,” (l963), and “What do you say after you say Hello?” (l972) the latter of which was published posthumously. By now, about 40 years later, through many books and journals and conferences around the world, several generations of transactional analysis practitioners have debated and added much to the Berne’s basic theory and practice.