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Why Transactional Analysis? My Story.

by Margaret Bowater

MA, MNZAP, TSTA, Author of Dreams and Visions - Language of the Spirit

I was introduced to Transactional Analysis in 1975, when I went to a TA 101 course in Hamilton, taught by Evan Sherrard for Presbyterian Support Services. It appealed immediately as a philosophy, compatible with my Christian faith in its emphasis on cooperative relationships; and attractive for the (initial) simplicity of its diagrams and concepts, based on observable behaviour. I found immediate insights into my own personality patterns; and I liked the relaxed style of Evan, the presenter. I read James and Jongeward’s Born to Win, and liked the whole approach. I began to incorporate TA concepts into my adult night-classes on Communication Skills, to good effect.
I was becoming interested in Counselling as a career, and followed up on further TA courses with Evan. In 1984, the Human Development Team at Presbyterian Support Services in Auckland offered a new Internship in Counselling, including TA, and I jumped at the opportunity. It was a year of mind-expansion through many different modalities, with excellent practitioner-teachers and supervisors. I opened a private practice, and then was accepted as a member of the Human Development Team myself. Subsequently I became a co-founder of the Human Development and Training Institute, running one of the first systematic Counsellor-training programmes in NZ, using TA as a core component. I also developed courses in “Values and Spirituality” and a Certificate in Applied Dreamwork; and integrated all of this in my private practice as a psychotherapist. My clients and trainees often commented on the clarity of self-understanding they gained from TA concepts.
It was not till 1994 that my family responsibilities lightened enough for me to undertake more study. I discovered that it was possible to train as an international Certified Transactional Analyst by correspondence, along with local workshops and qualified supervision. I tackled it with enthusiasm, passed the written exam, and went to the San Francisco International TA Conference in 1995, where I passed the oral exam. It was fascinating to meet some of the people whose writings I had studied.
Muriel James transactional analysisI extended that trip to attend a week’s workshop at Lake Tahoe with Muriel and John James, on “Integrating Psychology and Spirituality”- another eye-opener!  Historically, TA has emphasized scientific observation at the cost of sidelining the spiritual dimension; but Muriel James – and later, Petruska Clarkson – have sought to hold them both together. Participants in the workshop came from a range of faiths and cultures, exploring our differences within the TA framework. I have a happy memory of sitting in the sun on a jetty on the Lake, talking with Muriel about these things; and felt encouraged on my own journey of personal growth.
I discovered there was a ladder of further training available to qualify as a TA Teacher and Supervisor, with a practical emphasis which would improve the quality of what I was already doing. So I carried on, steadily gaining more confidence through senior colleagues’ support and feedback, and passed the final set of exams at the Sydney Conference in 2001.
That wasn’t the end, of course. We formed the Auckland TA Training Institute to foster the movement’s growth. I help to train and supervise others, and organize the Auckland TA Interest Group, while enjoying collegial relationships in the wider profession. I also write articles for journals, in which I have specialized in integrating TA with Dreamwork, as a widely neglected aspect of spirituality in the helping professions. I am grateful for the insights, friends and experiences I have gained through my involvement in TA.
Article posted 20 May 2014

Margaret Bowater, TSTA, is a psychotherapist, supervisor, and founder member of the Auckland Transactional Analysis Training Institute  arrow-10find out more