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Using Transactional Analysis in Coaching

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

Hello, I am Lucy Power. I am an ICF credentialed Coach and I am in advanced clinical training in Transactional Analysis for both Psychotherapy and also for groups and organisations. I am pretty much delighted every day that I get to work as a Coach and to use Transactional Analysis as my approach. I am deeply in love with both of these approaches to being with people, to helping people be who they were meant to be.

What is Transactional Analysis?

Eric Berne, the originator of Transactional Analysis said ‘We are born princes and the civilizing process makes us frogs.’  Bold statement huh? And a potent comment on how we are all born OK and then we take on layers and layers of thinking, feeling and behaving that are not us, not as we are meant to be, not as we could be with the right Coach. Using TA in Coaching, with love and intention, can help our clients to understand the difference between the ‘layers’ and their true selves, can help them to understand their layers and the purpose the layers have served and to start to peel them away.

The wonderful Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”. Coaching with an understanding and awareness of TA can support this awakening for your clients. And once we understand our early decisions and how they limit us, how they place us right in the way of the life we would really LOVE to live, we’re free!

The foundational principles of TA:

These are:

  • Everyone is OK

  • We can all think

  • We each decide our fate and these decisions can be changed

And they mean:

  • Everyone is born just as they are, loveable and beautiful and intrinsically OK. Even Hitler. (I know right! It was of course the civilising process which let him to develop the thinking, feeling and behaviour which was most definitely NOT OK!). And for your clients who think they will only be OK if they could just be…[substitute whatever!] holding them as OK regardless of their opinion could be the most liberating aspect of your work together.

  • Knowing that we can all think takes us off Karpman’s Drama Triangle (away from the positions ‘rescuer’, ‘persecutor’, or ‘victim’) because when we know that we and others can think, we understand that we don’t need to do their thinking for them. Knowing that we can all think also gives us the responsibility to act with integrity and responsibility because our thinking is ours alone.

  • Understanding that we can change the decisions we made when we were very young is utterly liberating (and more scary than anything else!) Understanding that our life was pretty much decided before we were EIGHT, before we knew our options can release us from all kinds of being stuck with what we now have.

And imagine the value, the potency of coaching with these principles as your guide. Imagine being able to spot the stuck-ness our clients in these terms. Imagine being able to truthfully tell people that they are ok just as they are, that they and they alone can think through their stuff, that they can change the decisions they made when they were far too young to know better.

Using a specific psychological approach in Coaching isn’t for everyone, and I am not suggesting in this piece that you do this. I do hope however that you bring something of what you learn in reading this into the way you work with people, the way you be with yourself and together with others.

Why particularly TA?

  • TA leans deeply into a contracting approach to personal change. So when I coach, each session begins with a contract for both the outcome and process of the session, married of course with an overview (big goals) contract.

  • TA brings great self awareness for you as a Coach which you can use to raise your clients’ own personal awareness, and also to track the process between the two of you which I always raise and talk through.

  • TA teaches us how to grow a robust Adult ego state which can be the lead part of you, drawing from your Child and Parent ego states anything at all that is useful to you, to your clients, to your relationship.

Takeaway TA

Here’s a little something which could change your life today:

Ego states are TA’s way of describing our personalities. We have a Parent, Adult and Child. It is only our Adult which is actually here and now, responding to the stimulus in our environment as it really is. Our Parent contains recordings you gathered mostly when you were very young of the way the big people did things, and therefore it contains instructions on ‘how we do things around here’. Useful? Yes when we draw on these recordings to help us cross the road safely, tie our shoelaces and cook a nice dinner. No when we hold on to ‘people like us don’t…’, ‘girls can’t’, ‘boys shouldn’t’. Our Child contains all the ways we thought, felt and acted back then. We can be catapulted back in to this way of being by anything which has a sniff of familiarity about it. We are invited into our Child and Parent when others are in theirs. Another’s Parent can invite our childhood fear, or eagerness to please or rebellion. Another’s Child can invite our judgement, our anger, our jealousy. This happens a lot in the coaching space. We are often faced with our clients’ Child as they reveal their sense of having very limited options, their Parent when they tell us what they ‘cant’, shouldn’t’ and mustn’t.

To avoid getting into such dynamics, we must strengthen our self awareness and our ability to use our Adult when we coach. From our Adult, we will invite our clients’ Adults into the coaching space and from this place can the real work begin.

To Learn More:

I run a membership group which costs £29 per month or £290 for the year. Inside The Power House, you’ll get a weekly live teach, worksheet and building resource library, group coaching and community support in the Facebook group. Here’s where you can learn more and join:

I offer a learning and coaching programme called ‘Transactional Analysis in Ten Weeks’ which starts on 22nd April where I’ll send you an amazing weekly interactive workbook, offer live teach sessions and a group coaching call each week as well as lots more fabulous and useful daily content for just £797.Here is where you can learn more and sign up:

I offer a learning and coaching programme called ‘Eating Our Feelings’ which supports you to get underneath the reasons you developed your use of food as you did. The programme uses Transactional Analysis and coaching to deeply address your ways of being in the world, your sense of your importance and your early decisions around using food instead of getting your needs met. It costs £490 for a weekly interactive workbook and a coaching call at the start and end of your journey. Here’s where you can learn more and sign up:

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