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The risks and limitations of Transactional Analysis

Reading Time of Article: 4 min

Criticism of the Transactional Analysis theory

This concept has been criticised, for more or less justifiable reasons. The theory itself incurs certain risks. Of the more frequently encountered risks, there is the simplification of relationship patterns, which can:

  • tend to focus on the analysis of the situation (instead of concentrating on solving the problem)
  • facilitate an explanation or interpretation (instead of questioning the other person to allow them to present their frame of reference and, therefore, explain the many ideas they have on the issue)
  • push the user to stress their understanding of the concepts, rather than focusing on their interaction with the other person
  • allow people to believe that it is easy to help others, simply through Transactional Analysis models (“psychological games” or the Karpman Drama Triangle).

A common misunderstanding about the founding concept

In a professional environment, the manager may believe that it is better to take a “Parent” stance to handle a team and run a review interview with a member of staff, even in a knowledge transfer situation (training for example). In reality, the “Adult” stance is much more effective in all these cases; the aim is to address the “Adult part” of the other person as an “Adult” to build a constructive exchange. The concept of three personality components in Transactional Analysis may be misleading to a simple reader.  This model can lead us to believe that we need to use our “Adult part” permanently. The theory of Transactional Analysis effectively explains that there are three ego states, which each have different functions, indispensable for everyday life. For example, it is preferable to take important life decisions using the Adult part, but it is also useful to have fun moments as the Child and protect yourself with the Parent. They are, therefore, complementary and used in different situations to deal with one’s personal and professional life.

 

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