An essential first step in transactional analysis treatment is to establish a “contract” with the client’s Adult. This may be accomplished quickly or require several sessions, depending on how upset the client is and how willing he or she is to use his or her Adult to determine, with the therapist, what the goals of treatment can be rather than maintain unrealistic magical expectations that can never be met. Sooner or later, it is important for therapist and client to spell out what both seek to achieve, and how they intend to go about it.( In what follows I will use the pronoun “she” for therapist or counselor, and “he” for client.)
What I call a person’s “character type” is based on his preferred ego state. Roughly, I distinguish between two types of individuals, with subdivisions for each: namely Type I, or “Undersure”, and Type II, or “Oversure”.
Type I tends to want help and guidance even in situations where he is clearly able to decide for himself. Thus, he tends to function a great deal in the Adapted and/or Rebellious Child ego state.
Type II spends more time in the Parent ego state than in Child, insisting on his values and/or view of the world, and giving advice either as a Rescuer” or Critical Parent.
The basic character type tends to get established in childhood, usually between the ages of 2 – 6.
Persons who develop a Type I character have usually experienced a good deal of domination from caretakers, either in a critical, or in a suffocating, “loving” manner. As a result, they learned that they were better off obeying, adapting and/or depending on the leadership or control of others than seeking to become independent. When they are assertive, it is likely to be in the form of rebellion.
Persons who develop a Type II character have had to take on much more responsibility, during childhood than was appropriate for their age (e.g., with sick or non-functioning parents) or they were pushed to excel and show off beyond their own intrinsic needs. They feel valuable only when “rescuing” or getting others to follow them.
Neither one of these character types is good or bad per se, unless the person lacks flexibility and rigidly tries to keep functioning most of the time in accordance with his type rather than allowing Adult assessment of a given situation and other people. Such individuals are functioning primarily according to type on a “third degree” level, which is pathological.