Transactional Analysis and other therapeutic modes
Although I am primarily a relational Gestalt psychotherapist, as I described in the previous section, I draw on other modes of therapy which are congruent with my relational approach, particularly Transactional Analysis which provides a useful way of looking at ‘ego states’ (Parent, Adult and Child).
This helps us understand how we may be in thrall to beliefs about how we are supposed to behave, or some early ‘traumatic’ experiences of childhood which cause us anxiety.
Both 'TA' and psychoanalysis draw on the idea of ‘transference’ ,which can be a useful way of thinking about how we may get hooked into unhelpful ways of responding to certain kinds of people.
Transference in general describes our tendency to put people in categories and respond to them from our generalised assumptions about that kind of person, for example an 'old' person, or a woman or a man; this is normal.
However, psychotherapists are concerned about a specific type of transference when someone reminds us, often unconsciously, of a parent, carer or teacher, but someone with authority over us at an early age. Maybe they had expectations of us which we couldn't live up to, told us what we should believe, or criticised us, or even physically hurt us. Sometimes we carry these expectations or hurts around with us as 'stories' about the kind of person we are, and such stories can be very inhibiting.
We may catch ourselves saying to ourselves what we should do, or to others what they should or ought to do, or indeed how they should think!
Such language is an indication that we are 'in thrall to' how someone else has told us to think and act, although it may all be unconscious; this is part of what we explore in psychotherapy.