The Philosophy of TA

“The eternal problem of the human being is how to structure his waking hours.”  Eric Berne


Transactional Analysis (TA) is a collection of concepts, each hold value individually, and together paint a philosophical and practical way to understand what is happening between people, and within people.

The three assumptions of TA:

  • Everyone is OK
  • Everyone has the capacity to think
  • Change is possible
Everyone is OK

The concept of OKness is one of the most enduring and powerful ideas in Transactional Analysis. Being ‘OK’ has a deep and profound meaning attached to it. It means that fundamentally, everyone has value, worth and dignity as a human being.

Being OK is not dependent on any conditions being met, and is independent of behaviour. It is your birthright and the truth of who you are. The idea that ‘Everyone is OK’ is a profound philosophical stance that people have inherent worth and dignity, without needing to earn it, prove it or improve upon it. This means people are worthy of being treated with mutual value and respect. OKness has a mutuality to it.

Sometimes we shift into feeling ‘Not OK’ – either about ourselves or about others or both. In the TA concept called Life Positions, it describes shifts and also how to return to the fundamental stance of ‘I’m OK – You’re OK’.

The idea of OKness sounds simple and straightforward, but when investigated and really understood, can have a definitive impact on people’s lives at home and at work.

Everyone has the capacity to think

The idea is that everyone has the ability and capacity to think for themselves – to solve their own problems, know their own truth and take action. This basic underpinning means it is not necessary to ‘do the thinking’ for others or attempt to solve others’ problems.

As coaches, trainers and facilitators at The Change Institute, this means we do not come into a role to ‘save the day’, or rescue the client with our expertise. Rather, we work to support the thinking of the client to help them achieve what they set out to do. The power is in the client.

Change is possible

Even the most significant of problems and challenges have options. But only if you believe change is possible. Do you believe people can change their minds? Do you believe your words will influence others? Do you believe people are trustworthy in what they say? We all hold deeply imbedded culture beliefs from our family of origin about what is acceptable behaviour, whether to trust or not, how much honesty and openness is acceptable. These beliefs affect every interaction. The unspoken rule that no-one can be disappointed for example causes undue stress trying to create a perfect solution that everyone is happy with.

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