Institute for Integrative Psychotherapy

Integrative Psychotherapy Books

English language books by Richard Erskine may be ordered from Karnac Books at

by Wayne Carpenter 
and Damon Wadsworth,

Transactional Analysis Journal

Theories and Methods of an Integrative Transactional Analysis

Richard G. Erskine
 TA Press, 1997, 256 pages, $25.00

This review was originally published in the Transactional Analysis Journal, Vol. 29, No. 3, July 1999.

This volume, published by and of financial benefit to the ITAA, is a useful collection of 28 articles written by Richard Erskine— fourteen of them with coauthors, including Rebecca Trautmann, his partner and cotherapist. The assembled articles span 25 years of theoretical, clinical, and creative development. This single volume provides access to the breadth and depth of the work of Erskine and Trautmann, both of whom received the 1998 Eric Berne Memorial Award for eight of the articles in this compendium.

Those who wish to read these articles from a historical and developmental perspective should read the book from back to front. In this way readers will follow the path of a theorist building on the works of his mentors, adding new insights and ultimately creating new theory. Those who read the articles in the order presented will be thrust immediately into the theory, which gives rise to the idea of integrative transactional analysis as an additional "school" of transactional analysis.

Part 1, Processes and Methods of an Integrative Transactional Analysis, presents seven articles by Erskine or Erskine and Trautmann. All demonstrate a deep commitment to a relationship-based psychotherapy deeply rooted in the theory of transactional analysis and expand on the clinical methods of contact-in-relation ship: inquiry, attunement, and involvement. Perhaps more importantly, these articles articulate the basic concepts of a comprehensive theory of psychotherapy—that is, those concepts that every school of psychotherapy must, in some way, account for: motivation, structure (personality structure and time structure), and a psychotherapeutic method.

The first article, The Therapeutic Relation ship: Integrating Motivation and Personality Theories, speaks to the issue of motivation. As with his other careful readings of Berne, Erskine recovers Berne's ideas of stimulus, structure, and relationship hunger. Quickly, the reader understands that an inability to success fully satisfy the hungers for stimulation and relationship leads to a defensive overstructring of the personality (self). Thus, ego states and life script are theoretical constructs that reflect the overstructuring of relationship hungers and internal stimuli. This is a significant way of describing a theory of personality. The integration of transactional analysis theories of personality with a theory of motivation paves the way for a theory of methods that emphasizes a relationship-based psychotherapy, for human hungers are always recognized in relatedness.

The ideas in The Process of Integrative Psychotherapy (coauthored with Rebecca Trautmann) were originally a keynote presentation at the 1993 Eastern Regional Transactional Analysis Conference; they describe how con tact, ego states, and life script form the core of a theory of personality. Each of these concepts is elaborated in other sections of this volume: contact, learned from Fritz and Laura Perls, and gestalt therapy are discussed throughout; ego states are discussed in significant detail in Part 2; and life scripts are discussed in Part 3, with the focus always on "script cure," either behavioral, intrapsychic, or physiological. The methods of an integrative transactional analysis are discussed thoroughly in the balance of the articles in Part 1. Methods of an Integrative Psychotherapy is a particularly useful, in-depth discussion of a theory of psychotherapy methods. The balance of this section focuses on the particular applications of these methods in the treatment of dissociation, shame and self- righteousness, and developmental perspectives.

Part 2, The Structure of the Ego: Commentaries on Theory, is a rich collection reflecting Erskine and Trautmann's struggle to define and clarify the notion of ego states. To those readers following the recent debate about ego states within the transactional analysis community, these articles are a must read. The historically significant article Ego State Analysis: AComparative View recognized the variety of definitions and understanding of the ego state concept in the transactional analysis literature. Besides offering a useful schema for analyzing and understanding ego states, this article start ed Erskine and Trautmann on a journey to raising questions about the fundamental assumptions regarding ego states. Thus, Ego Structure, Intrapsychic Function, and Defense Mechanisms: A Commentary on Eric Berne's Original Theoretical Concepts, published by Erskine in 1988, was the clarion call to a re view of the concept and its use. Erskine and Trautmann argue that Eric Berne himself de scribed two distinct models of ego states. At the core of the debate is this question: Are people born with (or do they develop) three ego states which have specific personality functions, or do they have an ego, which be comes fragmented into Child and Parent states as a protective strategy for coping with need (hungers) frustration? The therapist's choice of ego state model determines his or her psycho therapeutic focus: Is the work of a therapist to remedy the dysfunctional processes in each ego state so that they can function according to their assigned tasks in the personality, or is the function of therapy to integrate the fragments of self or "I" into an integrated ego?

The article Transference and Transactions: Critique for an Intrapsychic and Integrative Perspective, considers ego state theory in greater depth, adding significant material that contrasts the psychoanalytic concept of transference with Berne's ideas on the analysis of transactions. Herein we find ego states defined as follows: Child ego states consist of fixations of earlier developmental ages; Parent ego states are the manifestations of introjects of the personality of actual people as perceived by the child; and the Adult ego state accounts for and integrates past experiences and psychological influences with current reality. The reviewers note that this does not seem to eliminate the existence of three states of the ego. Rather, the emphasis is on how ego states function, how they are viewed in treatment, and what constitutes a whole, healthy, functioning person. The analysis of transactions in an integrative transactional analysis is to therapeutically identify and resolve conflict between Parent and Child ego states.

Part 3 of this book contains several articles that demonstrate the development of Erskine as a transactional analyst and an integrative psychotherapist. The seminal articles "Script Cure" and "The Racket System" (which won the Eric Berne Memorial Scientific Award for Erskine and his coauthor Marilyn Zalcman in 1979) provide the reader with basic under standings of life script. Both of these articles move the concept of life script from a static to a dynamic understanding, associating the Bernian concepts of rackets and games with the intrapsychic script system. The reader should not overlook Transactional Analysis and Family Therapy in this section. Enjoy some of the little gems along the way, too. Erskine had a lot of "Cowpoke" in him, and his contributions along that line are delightful and pragmatic.

Part 4, Transactional Analysis in Action, presents articles in which we see the interests of Erskine as a former special education teacher and university professor—articles about the process of education give way to those about evolving transactional analysis and teaching practicing psychotherapists. Whether teaching secondary students, graduate students, or practicing psychotherapists, Erskine's love of teaching is apparent. The article on supervision describes a model of professional development that is basic for anyone in a teaching/supervisory role. Finally, Erskine's collaborative, relational style is apparent in two transcripts of roundtable discussions about shame and self- righteousness and ego state theory found in earlier sections of the book. The reviewers deeply appreciate his inquiring mind and his attempts to engage others in dialogue from which all can learn.

We wholeheartedly recommend this volume, not only as a resource for transactional analysts at all levels, but also for anyone interested in psychotherapy. Again and again, as the de tailed bibliographies indicate, Erskine and Trautmann reach beyond themselves and the basic theories of transactional analysis to the domains of psychoanalytic self psychology, object relations, gestalt therapy theory, developmental research and theory, the relational theories of feminist writers, and the existential philosophers to truly create an integrated theory that enriches the practice of transactional analysis. Learning, like navigation, takes place when we compare where we are with known points in order to move forward with the confidence of achieving our destinations. Richard Erskine's Theories and Methods of an Integrative Transactional Analysis has left these two reviewers with a renewed enthusiasm for the contactful, integrating power of transactional analysis theory and its genius, richness, and life-changing methods.

Wayne L. Carpenter, M.Div., M.A., is a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst (clinical) and a psychotherapist in private practice in Fort Collins, Colorado. Damon Wadsworth, M.A., a Certified Transactional Analyst (clinical) and a Provisional Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst, is a practicing psychotherapist in New York City.


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.