Institute for Integrative Psychotherapy

Integrative Psychotherapy Books

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Transactional analysis in contemporary psychotherapy

Richard G Erskine (ed)

Karnac, 2015, 346pp, £29.99
isbn 978-1782202639

Reviewed by Ian Argent

This book presents a rich and diverse collection of chapters written by transactional analysts from across the spectrum. Editor Richard Erskine has brought together writings by the cohort of practitioners who were involved in TA’s early development in the US with work from the more recent generations who are moving the theories on in new and creative ways.

The range of subject matter is impressively wide, as is the range of sources. There is material here based on the ‘classical’ TA school, most closely identified with the work Berne initiated in the 1960s. These pieces show how TA is still being used in modern settings much as it was originally conceived. Thunnissen’s chapter, for instance, follows the treatment of personality disorders in an in-patient group, and presents a useful narrative of the treatment. Earlier in the book, McNeel’s chapter on redecision therapy takes some old material and adds to it, which I found refreshing and effective.

There are also contributions here from authors who are part of the ‘relational turn’ in TA. These show how the theory has changed and evolved, taking into account the complexity of the therapeutic relationship and the potential for re-enactments of archaic material. Elana Leigh’s chapter explores this theoretical progress and how it has affected her work. Ray Little examines transference and countertransference in a deep, concentrated manner that takes some reading; Stuthridge and Sills also explore enactments (games) in an accessible way that would perhaps be more useful to readers who are newer to the relational approach.

To add further to the mix, cultural and political influences are explored from a TA point of view. I found Minikin and Tudor’s return to radical psychiatry (in many ways the ‘lost’ tradition of TA) both innovative and thought provoking.

This book will mainly be of interest to advanced TA practitioners. Its strength is in the sheer variety of the material. It shows how, in the 21st century, transactional analysis continues to be applied in amazingly diverse ways.

Ian Argent is a transactional analysis psychotherapist in private practice.

Published in: Therapy Today, April 2016 , Page 41

The Institute for Integrative Psychotherapy is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists, by the National Board of Certified Counselors for counselors and by the American Board of Examiners in Pastoral Counseling for pastoral counselors. The Institute for Integrative Psychotherapy maintains responsibility for this program and its content.