An investigation into the factors that influence the perceived experiences and outcomes for students training in Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy in the UK and USA

Cathy McQuaid


Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) (Smith, 1995) was applied to data from 21 out of 50 participants who had shared their training experiences during semi-structured interviews.  Subjects were chosen from trainees and trainers in the USA and UK, to include ‘generations’ from those trained by transactional analysis originator Dr Eric Berne through to recently qualified transactional analysis psychotherapists, and including some who had ceased training before qualifying.

Results suggest that TA psychotherapy training is experienced by some as a transformational, life enhancing and reparative experience that culminates in a satisfying and rewarding career, whilst for others it is perceived as an abusive, punitive and punishing experience, bringing disillusionment, disappointment and dissatisfaction.  The main contributing factors were the students’ personal belief systems, motivations for undertaking the training, and relationships with the trainer, peers and the profession as a whole.

Analysis of the themes suggested that subsequent anxieties raised by participants concerned lack of information, inconsistencies in training offered by different establishments, reasons for trainees entering training and trainers’ reasons for accepting them, and the significant time and resource requirements of the training.  The paper includes recommendations aimed at making the training experience one that upholds the basic philosophical principles and values of TA, and promotes, develops and enhances TA psychotherapy training.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Cathy McQuaid

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International Journal of Transactional Analysis Research & Practice        ISSN 2218-3159