What Is Transactional Analysis?

Transactional analysis is a social psychology developed by Eric Berne, MD (d.1970). Berne’s theory consists of certain key concepts that practitioners use to help clients, students, and systems analyze and change patterns of interaction that interfere with achieving life aspirations.  Over the past 40 years, Berne's theory has evolved to include applications in counseling, education, organizational development, and psychotherapy.  Research studies have evaluated the effectiveness of transactional analysis in a wide variety of contexts.  (See also training and certification in transactional analysis.)

  • The counseling specialization is chosen by professionals working in such diverse contexts as social welfare, health care, pastoral work, prevention, mediation, process facilitation, multicultural work, and humanitarian activities, to name a few.
  • Educational transactional analysis is used by practitioners working in 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.
  • Organizational transactional analysts work in, or for, organizations using transactional analysis concepts and techniques to evaluate an organization’s developmental processes and challenges as well as its dysfunctional behaviors.
  • Psychotherapists utilize transactional analysis to facilitate their clients’ capacities for self-actualization and healing by learning to recognize and change old, self-limiting patterns.