An Introduction to Transactional Analysis


Phil Lapworth & Charlotte Sills

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    About the Authors

    Phil Lapworth is a psychotherapist and supervisor in private practice near Bath. He has been an external examiner, consultant and supervisor for several integrative counselling and psychotherapy courses and was Director of Clinical Services at the Metanoia Institute before moving to Bath.

    His interest in psychology and psychotherapy began while a teacher in Special Education, particularly through his work at the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital School in London. His subsequent deputy headship at a school for troubled children and adolescents provided him with the opportunity in 1981 to undertake counselling training at South West London College which encompassed several approaches to counselling.

    From these eclectic beginnings Phil qualified as a transactional analyst, trained in gestalt therapy and, later, integrative therapy, establishing a psychotherapy and supervision practice working with adults. With Charlotte Sills and Sue Fish, he published books on transactional analysis and gestalt approaches and, as sole author, several chapters in therapy publications.

    Through his clinical experience, personal therapy and further MSc studies Phil's perspective widened in the nineties, and gave rise to another book with Charlotte and Sue on integration. A second edition of Integration in Counselling and Psychotherapy: Developing a Personal Approach by Phil and Charlotte was published by Sage in 2010 and, due to their popularity, their earlier introductory books on transactional analysis and gestalt (rewritten and updated to include coaching and other applications) will also be published in 2011.

    Phil has also written a book of short stories, Tales from the Therapy Room: Shrink-Wrapped, published by SAGE in 2011. Though fictional, these tales reflect Phil's continuing interest in, and encouragement of, an integrative, personal approach to psychotherapy.

    To contact Phil:

    Charlotte Sills has been a teacher and supervisor of counsellors, therapists and coaches for almost twenty-five years. Her original introduction to working in the ‘helping relationship’ was in the field of bereavement, when she worked as a counsellor and subsequently the organizer of a local authority service for bereaved people. It was there that she began to learn about the healing power of the relationship – a fundamental value that still underpins her work using transactional analysis in a variety of settings.

    After these beginnings, Charlotte trained in psychotherapy in various approaches and in particular in transactional analysis. For many years the head of the Transactional Analysis Department at Metanoia Institute, she still works as a senior tutor there in TA and integrative approaches to psychotherapy and is a Visiting Professor at Middlesex University. She is also in private practice as a therapist, coach and supervisor in West London. Since 2000 she has worked at Ashridge College, UK, where she is the co-director of the Coaching for Consultants course as well as a tutor on Ashridge's Masters programme in Relational Executive Coaching. She has a further major interest in groupwork and works as a group facilitator and team coach using TA and other approaches.

    Charlotte has published widely in the field of therapy and coaching, both alone and in collaboration with colleagues. Books include: Transactional Analysis: A Relational Perspective with Helena Hargaden (Routledge, 2002) and Integration in Counselling and Psychotherapy also with Phil Lapworth (Sage, 2010). In 2007, Charlotte was co-recipient of the Eric Berne Memorial Award.

    To contact Charlotte:

    A further book in this series – An Introduction to Gestalt, co-authored with Billy Desmond – will be available from January 2012.

    Praise for the Book

    ‘This is an extraordinarily clear and accessible introduction to transactional analysis, whilst at the same time a comprehensive and profound guide to its application. The authors have adapted their original text with examples taken from across the helping professions, making it eminently usable for executive coaches as well as counsellors.’ Erik de Haan, Director of Ashridge Centre for Coaching

    ‘I really welcome this book as a fresh perspective on transactional analysis for today. The authors’ relational approach and realistic examples will be invaluable to coaches, educators, consultants, psychotherapists and counsellors, with case studies and stories that show how TA can be applied pragmatically and creatively. In language that is direct, humane, lively and practical they explain current theory in straightforward ways, engage us in self-discovery and invite us into new ways of working with clients.’ Trudi Newton, Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst and Chair of Training and Certification, International TA Association

    ‘In his development of transactional analysis now more than 50 years ago, Eric Berne challenged his psychoanalytic colleagues by arguing that analyzing what actually happens between people is as important for self-understanding and change as analyzing what happens within their minds. With their revised introduction to TA, Lapworth and Sills bring a wise and lively accounting of contemporary TA, situating it firmly within a relational perspective. Berne's thinking foreshadowed our current relational thinking. This thorough introduction puts relational thinking at the front and center of transactional analysis, while retaining its usefulness in understanding the experience of individuals.’ William Cornell, psychotherapist, coeditor of Transactional Analysis Journal, 2010 winner of the Eric Berne Memorial Award

    ‘A very well written book with many practical examples and good exercises. I can really feel that it is written by highly experienced practitioners. A very good introduction to TA and it roots.’ Berit Daugaard-Freese, Independent consultant, Denmark; Associate, Ashridge Business School

    ‘Practitioners from a variety of situations and contexts, as well as the layperson, will find this book a rich, valuable and practical resource. The authors use an accessible and easy-to-follow format and explain complex concepts in a way that makes them readily understandable. It is an engaging and practical demonstration of transactional analysis theory and practice.’ Heather Fowlie, Head of the Transactional Analysis Department at Metanoia Institute, London


    Relational skills are now becoming more and more recognized as an essential part of effective helping. Nowhere is this more true than in social services, psychological therapy, education, organizations and the health care professions. This book on transactional analysis (TA) should be of immediate practical benefit to anyone in the ‘people business’.

    The book has emerged from our earlier work Transactional Analysis Counselling (Winslow Press/Speechmark, 1993) in response to the requests of many colleagues, teachers and students of TA who have asked us to revisit and expand our ideas according to developments in the field both of TA theory and its applications. In particular, this involves a focus on a relational approach to using TA in a wide variety of ‘helping conversations’, from counselling and coaching to mentoring, managing and guiding. Of course, each of these roles will require different skills and some specialist knowledge. However, what they have in common is the intentional use of a relationship to help clients understand something about how human beings work – to understand themselves, their relationships and their patterns of being in the world, as well as how they can develop and be the best that they are able to be. This is what our book is about.

    The Book

    In Chapter 1 we will give an overview of TA in order to place it in a general context. In the chapters that follow we will introduce the major TA concepts for you to explore and experiment with for yourself and in your work with others. In each chapter we will give a definition or description of the concept, some everyday examples to clarify the concept, suggestions as to how it may be usefully applied, a case study that runs through the book, and some exercises for you to practise for yourself and with your clients. In Chapters 10 and 11 we offer some ideas on the process of engaging, assessing and working with clients along with some longer examples. At the end of the book there is a list of TA organizations for those of you who are interested in furthering your knowledge and skills in using TA in your relationships with clients, colleagues or employees.

    Many of the illustrative examples and case studies in this book are derived from actual practice – for example of counselling or coaching. In the interest of confidentiality, the real identities of these clients have been changed and in most cases are composites. Where real examples are used, the permission of the individual has been obtained.

    A word about language – as the book aims to address those who are involved in a range of different activities, we have chosen the word ‘practitioner’ as the catch-all term which we hope can represent anyone from the psychotherapist to the organization consultant.

    PhilLapworth and CharlotteSills


    First and foremost we would like to acknowledge the contribution of our late friend and colleague Sue Fish to the original version of this book. Reworking and updating the text has constantly brought her lovingly to mind, especially in the exercises where her suggestion of getting a massage seems to occur not infrequently! Charlotte would also like to appreciate Phil for his generous work as lead author on the original version of this book.

    Our grateful thanks to Leo Lapworth for his computer-graphic wizardry in providing all the figures for this book; to Andrew Day for being our ‘coaching consultant’; Berit Daugaard-Freese for her valuable feedback on the first edition as we prepared the revision and Alice Oven and the team at SAGE for all their support as usual.

    We would like to extend our appreciation and respect to our clients, trainees and supervisees who have taught us more about counselling, psychotherapy and coaching than any book can possibly teach and to whom this book is dedicated.

  • List of TA Organizations


    Allen, J.R. (2000) ‘Biology and transactional analysis II: a status report on neurodevelopment’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 30 (4): 260–9.
    Allen, J.R. (2009) ‘Constructivist and neuroconstructivist transactional analysis’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 39 (3): 181–92.
    Allen, J.R. and Allen, B.A. (1972) ‘Scripts: the role of permission’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 2: 72–4.
    Allen, J. and Allen, B. (1984) Psychiatry: A Guide. New York: Medical Examination Pub. Co.
    Allen, J.R. and Allen, B.A. (1982) ‘To find/make meaning: notes on the last permission’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 17: 72–81.
    Allen, J.R. and Allen, B.A. (1988) ‘Scripts and permission: some unexamined assumptions and connotations’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 18: 283–93.
    Allen, J.R. and Allen, B.A. (1999) ‘On receiving the 1998 Eric Berne Memorial Award for Theory’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 29: 11–13.
    Berne, E. (1949) The Mind in Action. London: John Lehmann.
    Berne, E. (1958) ‘“The analysis of games”, in Transactional analysis: a new and effective method of group therapy’, American Journal of Psychotherapy, 12: 735–43.
    Berne, E. (1961/1975) Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy. New York: Grove Press. Republished 1975 Souvenir Press Ltd.
    Berne, E. (1963) The Structure and Dynamics of Organizations and Groups. New York: Grove Press.
    Berne, E. (1964a) ‘Trading stamps’, Transactional Analysis Bulletin, 3 (10): 27.
    Berne, E. (1964b) Games People Play. New York: Grove Press.
    Berne, E. (1966) Principles of Group Treatment. New York: Grove Press.
    Berne, E. (1972) What Do You Say After You Say Hello?New York: Grove Press.
    Berne, E. (1976) Beyond Games and Scripts. Edited by ClaudeSteiner and CarmenKerr. New York: Grove Press.
    Berne, E. (1977) Intuition and Ego States. Edited by P.McCormick. San Francisco: TA Press.
    Choy, A. (1990) ‘The winner's triangle’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 20 (1): 40–6.
    Clarkson, P. (1992) Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy: An Integrated Approach. London: Routledge.
    Clarkson, P. and Gilbert, M. (1990) ‘Transactional analysis’, in W.Dryden (ed.), Individual Therapy. London: Routledge.
    Cornell, W.F. (1988) ‘Life script theory: a critical review from a developmental perspective’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 18 (4): 270–82.
    Cornell, W.F. and Landaiche, M. (2006) ‘Impasse and intimacy: applying Berne's concept of script protocol’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 36 (3): 196–213.
    Critchley, B. (1997) ‘A Gestalt approach to organisational consulting’, in J.Neumann, K.Kellner and A.Dawson-Shepherd (eds), Developing Organisational Consultancy. London: Routledge.
    Day, A., de Haan, E., Sills, C., Bertie, C. and Blass, E. (2008) ‘Coaches’ experience of critical moments in the coaching', International Coaching Psychology Review, 3 (3): 207–18.
    Dusay, J. (1972) ‘Egograms and the “constancy hypothesis” ’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 2 (3): 37–42.
    English, F. (1971) ‘The substitution factor: rackets and real feelings’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 1 (4): 225–30.
    English, F. (1972) ‘Rackets and real feelings’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 2 (1): 23–5.
    English, F. (1975) ‘The three-cornered contract’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 5 (4): 383–4.
    English, F. (1976) ‘Racketeering’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 6 (1): 78–81.
    English, F. (1988) ‘Whither scripts?’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 18 (4): 294–303.
    English, F. (2010) ‘It takes a life-time to play out a script’, in R.Erskine (ed.), Life Scripts: A Transactional Analysis of Unconscious Relational Patterns. London: Karnac. pp. 217–38.
    Erikson, E. (1950/1963) Childhood and Society. New York: Norton.
    Erskine, R.G. and Zalcman, M. (1979) ‘The racket system’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 9 (1): 51–9.
    Flowerdew, P. (2006) Useful Ideas and Tools to Use (Based on the Theories of Transactional Analysis). Self-published booklet. Bristol.
    Goulding, R. and Goulding, M. (1976) ‘Injunctions, decisions and redecisions’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 6 (1): 41–8.
    Goulding, R. and Goulding, M. (1979) Changing Lives Through Redecision Therapy. New York: Brunner/Mazel.
    Gregoire, J. (2004) ‘Ego states as living legacies’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 34 (1): 10–29.
    Hay, J. (1992) Transactional Analysis for Trainers. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill.
    Holloway, W. and Holloway, M. (1973) The Monograph Series. Medina, OH: Midwest Institute for Human Understanding Inc.
    Holmes, J. (1993) John Bowlby and Attachment Theory. London: Routledge.
    Holtby, M. (1979) ‘Interlocking racket systems’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 9 (2): 131–5.
    James, J. (1973) ‘The game plan’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 3 (4): 14–17.
    James, M. (1977) Techniques in Transactional Analysis. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
    Kahler, T. and Capers, H. (1974) ‘The miniscript’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 4 (1): 26–42.
    Karpman, S. (1968) ‘Fairy tales and script drama analysis’, Transactional Analysis Bulletin, 7 (26): 39–43.
    Karpman, S. (1971) ‘Options’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 1 (1): 79–87.
    Levin, P. (1982) ‘The cycle of development’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 12 (2): 136–7.
    Lewis, C.S. (1978) Till We Have Faces. London: Fount Paperbacks.
    Mahler, M.S., Pine, F. and Bergman, A. (1975) The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant. New York: International Universities.
    Mazzetti, M. (2010) ‘Cross-cultural transactional analysis’, in C.Sills (ed.), Eric Berne and His Legacy. The Psychotherapist Special Issue: 46: 23–5.
    McNeel, J. (1976) ‘The parent interview’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 6 (1).
    Noriega, G.G. (2004) ‘Codependence: a transgenerational script’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 34: 312–22.
    Noriega, G.G. (2010) ‘Transgenerational scripts – an unknown knowledge’, in R.Erskine (ed.), Life Scripts: A Transactional Analysis of Unconscious Relational Patterns. London: Karnac. pp. 269–90.
    Ogden, P., Minton, K. and Pain, C. (2006) Trauma in the Body: A Sensory Motor Approach to Psychotherapy. New York: Norton.
    Rogers, C. (1951) Client-Centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory. London: Constable.
    Schiff, J.L. with Schiff, A.W., Mellor, K., Schiff, E., Schiff, S., Richman, D., Fishman, J., Wolz, L., Fishman, C. and Momb, D. (1975) Cathexis Reader: Transactional Analysis Treatment of Psychosis. New York: Harper & Row.
    Schore, A. (1994) Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self (The Neurobiology of Emotional Development). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    Shivanath, S. and Hiremath, M. (2003) ‘The psychodynamics of race and culture’, in C.Sills and H.Hargaden (eds), Key Concepts in Transactional Analysis – Contemporary Views: Ego States. London: Worth Publishing. pp 169–84.
    Sills, C. (2006) ‘Contracts and contract making’, in C.Sills (ed.), Contracts in Counselling and Psychotherapy. London: Sage.
    Stacey, R.D. (1993/2007) Strategic Management and Organisational Dynamics. Harlow: Pearson Education.
    Steiner, C. (1966) ‘Script and counterscript’, Transactional Analysis Bulletin, 5 (18): 133–5.
    Steiner, C. (1974) Scripts People Live. New York: Grove Press.
    Stern, D. (1985) The Interpersonal World of the Infant. New York: Basic Books.
    Stewart, I. (2001) ‘Ego states and the theory of theory’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 31 (2): 133–47.
    Stolorow, R. and Atwood, G. (1992) Contexts of Being: The Intersubjective Foundations of Psychological Life. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.
    Stuntz, E. (1973) ‘Multiple chairs technique’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 3 (2).
    Summers, G. and Tudor, K. (2000) ‘Co-creative transactional analysis’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 30 (1): 23–44.
    Sunderland, M. (2008) The Science of Parenting. London: Dorling Kindersley.
    Suriyaprakash, C. (2009) ‘The transactional analysis of transformational leadership’. Doctoral research. Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, India.
    Tudor, K. (2003) ‘The neopsyche: the Integrating Adult ego state’, in C.Sills and H.Hargaden (eds), Ego States. London: Worth Publishing.
    Tudor, K. (2006) ‘Contracts, complexity and challenge’, in C.Sills (ed.), Contracts in Counselling and Psychotherapy (
    2nd edn
    ). London: Sage. pp. 119–36.
    Tudor, K. (2008) ‘Take it – The Sixth Driver’, Transactional Analysis Journal, 38 (1): 43–57.
    Van Beekum, S. (1991) ‘The functional model revisited’. Presentation. Maastricht TA Conference.
    Voltaire, J.-M. (1759) Candide, ou l'Optimisme. Paris: Sirene.
    Winnicott, D. (1958) ‘Mind and its relation to the psyche-soma’, in Collected Papers, through Paediatrics to Psychoanalysis. New York: Basic Books. pp. 243–54.

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