Transactional Analysis in Adult Education

Over the past 40 years, Berne's theory has evolved to include applications in counseling, education, organizational development, and psychotherapy. European research studies have admitted the effectiveness of transactional analysis in a wide variety of contexts,  applied in wide variety of settings outside of counselling, including organisational training and consultancy, parenting, education and coaching.

Educational transactional analysis is used by practitioners working in adult training centers, preschools, elementary and high schools, universities, and institutions that prepare teachers and trainers as well as in support of learners of all ages to thrive within their families, organizations, and communities.

​​How can Migrant Adult Educators benefit

Designed to promote personal growth and change, transactional analysis offers the opportunity to develop all kinds of easy to learn skills that can be applied to adult learning setting. 

Essentially transactional analysis can be used in any field where there is a need for understanding of individuals, communication and relationships. As a result, it is particularly useful where there are issues of conflict, confusion or where something is lacking. Relationship issues - such as those between migrant and host communities - tend to benefit greatly, as TA encourages adult educators and staff to address problems that have built up over time.

Key Concepts of Transactional Analysis*

  • I'm OK - You're OK

"I'm OK - You're OK" is probably the best-known expression of the purpose of transactional analysis: to establish and reinforce the position that recognizes the value and worth of every person. Transactional analysts regard people as basically "OK" and thus capable of change, growth, and healthy interactions.

  • Strokes 

Berne observed that people need strokes, the units of interpersonal recognition, to survive and thrive. Understanding how people give and receive positive and negative strokes and changing unhealthy patterns of stroking are powerful aspects of work in transactional analysis.

  • Ego States 

Eric Berne made complex interpersonal transactions understandable when he recognized that the human personality is made up of three "ego states". Each ego state is an entire system of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from which we interact with one another. The Parent, Adult and Child ego states and the interaction between them form the foundation of transactional analysis theory. These concepts have spread into many areas of therapy, education, and consulting as practiced today.

  • Transactions 

Transactions refer to the communication exchanges between people. Transactional analysts are trained to recognize which ego states people are transacting from and to follow the transactional sequences so they can intervene and improve the quality and effectiveness of communication.

  • Games People Play 

Berne defined certain socially dysfunctional behavioral patterns as "games." These repetitive, devious transactions are principally intended to obtain strokes but instead they reinforce negative feelings and self-concepts, and mask the direct expression of thoughts and emotions. Berne tagged these games with such instantly recognizable names as "Why Don't You, Yes But," "Now I've Got You, You SOB," and "I'm Only Trying to Help You." Berne's book Games People Play achieved wide popular success in the early 60's.

  • Life Script 

Eric Berne proposed that dysfunctional behavior is the result of self-limiting decisions made in childhood in the interest of survival. Such decisions culminate in what Berne called the "life script," the pre-conscious life plan that governs the way life is lived out. Changing the life script is the aim of transactional analysis psychotherapy. Replacing violent organizational or societal scripting with cooperative non-violent behavior is the aim of other applications of transactional analysis.

  • Contracts 

Transactional analysis practice is based upon mutual contracting for change. Transactional analysts view people as capable of deciding what they want for their lives. Accordingly transactional analysis does its work on a contractual basis between the client and the therapist, educator, or consultant.​


*Citing the International Transactional Analysis Association at www.itaaworld.org/what-transactional-analysis

The unit of social intercourse is called a transaction. If two or more people encounter each other… sooner or later one of them will speak, or give some other indication of acknowledging the presence of the others.

This is called transactional stimulus. 

Another person will then say or do something which is in some way related to the stimulus, and that is called the transactional response.“

​Eric Berne, Games People Play

Transactional analysis is a social psychology developed by Eric Berne, MD (d.1970) and consisting of certain key concepts that practitioners use to help learners and systems analyze and change patterns of interaction that interfere with achieving life aspirations.  ​