Transactional Analysis – Part 3 – Working With Clients

This is the third post about Transactional Analysis and it will outline some of how you would use TA with clients. If you have not already read the introduction outlined in part one or part two, which covered the games people play, considering reading them before you get stuck into this one.

Using TA with clients is an effective way to get them to optimize their performance. It can be a challenge to keep the conversations going smoothly given the level of discomfort people tend to feel when someone is running or has just run a game on them, but it becomes a lot easier to navigate the way through these moments the more often I do it. Since I am acting with my clients best interests at heart, there is little that I can do which is going to violate my integrity. It is now at the point were I just tell them what is about to happen, then point out their discomfort and explain what I have done to their brain / emotional center.

This is both an effective way to build their confidence in my ability to actually help them and it serves as a way to get rid of any clients who don’t actually want to have performance coaching; a strong tendency towards avoiding change or judging what I do as being self-serving manipulation is a non-starter when it comes to a coaching relationship. My feeling is that effective coaches do cause temporary changes within their clients to help facilitate their transformations given that intelligent objective people will try on things to see if they are relevant to their journey REGARDLESS of where it comes from.

When done effectively, there is a seamless transition in the conversation flow in-spite of the fact that it has just hit a pothole.

Here is hypothetical an example from a conversation that I didn’t have last week.

A client wants to drop 70 lbs and their trainer has book them an appointment with me because 70lb is a lot of weight to drop and they know that gaining it in the first place is due to a lack of optimization in their life.

I meet them at the front, do the Clinton hand shake – right hand shake, left hand reaches and holds their right forearm as I say “hello, thank you for coming in to have a conversation with me.” Small talk as we walk towards the office.

I gave her the big chair behind the desk and I take the smaller “client” chair  – I do this because I want her to feel like the lead in the conversation. This messes with the normal dynamic and immediately throws them off. Again, I need to get inside their head as quickly as possible and no opportunity is wasted. “So, what brings you here?” They talk, I listen. Very little ever comes out of this part of the conversation other than a further opening and the building of trust. I am however listening very closely for something that indicates Parent, Adult, Child psychological states. At some point I ask if I can write stuff down. They agree, and I write down stuff that I find interesting.

What I find interesting are pieces of scripts that feel sticky – dogmatic statements that feel accurate but are just stories. Why they feel sticky is either because they say them a few times, they say them more or less powerfully than the rest of the conversation, there is a shift in some aspect of their body language or because I get a feeling that it’s a match on something I’ve heard before (in another conversation I’ve had). “I am a control freak” is a good example because if they were, there wouldn’t need me to set them free, they’d already be doing everything that was needed to have the life they wanted. This statement usually indicates a high level of irresponsibility in critical areas of their life and usually a tendency towards a need be dominated.

After a few minutes I’ll ask them how they are feeling? What has changed in their thinking since they started talking? What the voice inside their heard is saying. The voice inside their head is critical because it is the cause of all of their ineffective actions. They MUST be aware that they hear it because it is the only way they have of quickly accessing their operating system. Many are reluctant to say they hear a voice and instead comment that they are thinking. When I ask them what that is like, do they think in colours, shapes, pictures of words, they always come back to words. This is step one of the breakthrough. There is a drifting from Adult to parent during this part of the conversation and I’ll often go to child when I tell them what my voice is saying. But once they admit that they think in linguistic terms I return to adult and the conversation continues.

“What does that voice say to you when you make the decision that you know you shouldn’t?” The information gleamed from the conversation up until this point is essential for what happens next, which is ultimately dependent upon how they answer this question. In almost every instance, if the person is aware of the voice, it exists as a dichotomy – a good cop / bad cop or angle / devil type thing; with one side saying do it and the other side saying don’t do it. There are lots of theories in this area about what these voices represent and the approach I take is that the devil is the Child state and the angle is the Parent state. The Child state is based on their direct experiential past, the Parent state is based on their observational past. Neither is right or wrong per say, but both are unworkable if lasting change is the objective. Since the goal of TA is to get the person to transact in an Adult state which is set firmly in the present.

The remainder of the session will be spend analyzing the duality of Child / Parent as it exists within their life in terms of the scripts they employee to manage and navigate their life. If the session is successful, they will begin to become aware of the cost of transacting as a Child / Parent and we will work on creating new scripts and methods for operating to alter the thoughts, feelings and subsequent outcome of their manifestation.

It is fair to state that most of the people we work with do not need more than a couple of session to start to become their transformed self given that they have already made the decision to make changes in their life. Some follow-up is needed to ensure that the adjustments have gotten traction but for the most part, when someone is open to a new way of being, the new way of being starts to take over very quickly.