KEYNOTE: Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy Research: Three Methods describing a TA Group Therapy

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Roland Johnsson


The overall aim of the thesis was to enhance and revive the practical understanding of the active ingredients in Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy (TA) and to define and lay down elements of TA that make it a distinct and replicable method of treatment.

The thesis includes three empirical studies of a videotaped one-year long TA Group Therapy with 10 clients. Three different key areas of Transactional Analysis have been investigated with support of three different approaches.

The first study (Johnsson, 2011 a) was a diagnostic client assessment with TA Script Analysis made as a reliability study. The second study (Johnsson, 2011 b) dealt with identification of different components in TA psychotherapy method with the use of Discourse Analysis and the third study (Johnsson & Stenlund, 2010) investigated the Therapeutic Alliance with a psychodynamic approach, using the CCRT method (the CORE Conflictual Relationship method) by Luborsky & Crits-Christoph (1990, 1998) and the Plan – Diagnosis method by Weiss & Sampson (1986).

Study I: A script questionnaire and associated checklist developed by Ohlsson, Johnsson & Björk (1992) was used by the author and two professional colleagues to independently assess ten clients of a year-long transactional analysis therapy group conducted by the author. Ratings based on written responses at start of therapy were compared to ratings based on videotape interviews conducted by the author six years after termination of therapy. Moderately high inter-assessor reliability was found but intra-assessor reliability was low for the independent assessors; agreement increased for script components ‘primary injunction from father,’ ‘racket feeling’, ‘escape hatch’, ‘driver from father’ and ‘driver from mother’.

Study II: Operational definitions of categorisations by McNeel (1975) were developed and applied by the author and an independent assessor to complete discourse analysis of 72 hours of transactional analysis group therapy in the style of Goulding & Goulding (1976, 1979) conducted during 1984/85. Results showed that the therapist used an average of 42% of the discourse space and that the therapy did indeed contain TA components, with the two main categories being ‘Feeling Contact’ and ‘Contracts’, and with particular use of TA techniques of ‘talking to Parent projections’, ‘make feeling statement’, ‘mutual negotiation’ and ‘specificity/clarity’. Inter-rater reliability was 46.2% (Araujo & Born 1985), Cohen’s (1960) kappa coefficient shows a spread from slight to moderate agreement, and the Odds Ratio (Viera, 2008) is above 1.0 for most categories. One intervention, "mutual negotiation", with moderate reliability could be identified as “TA typical".

Study III: The study describes an investigation of the significance of the affective dimension of the therapeutic alliance (Bordin 1979), in a psychodynamic form of transactional analysis therapy after the style of “Redecision therapy” (Goulding & Goulding, 1979). We explored the client’s pattern of affective relationships by use of CCRT by Luborsky & Crits-Christoph (1990, 1998) and examined how the therapist responds to the client’s affective messages (“tests”) by use of the Plan-Diagnosis method (Weiss & Sampson, 1986). We found that “emotional” aspects play a more decisive role than has been envisioned in the TA redecision method and similar approaches of TA psychotherapy that emphasise contracts, tasks of therapy and a rational approach.

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How to Cite
Johnsson, R. (2020). KEYNOTE: Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy Research: Three Methods describing a TA Group Therapy. International Journal of Transactional Analysis Research & Practice, 4(1), 11-25.


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