INTO TA—Personal reflections, by Bill Cornell

The Evolution of Transactional Analysis


The evolution of Into TA: A Comprehensive Textbook proved to be quite an adventure.  The roots of this book were in Leerboek Transactionale Analyse, written in Dutch by Moniek Thunnissen and Anne de Graaf and published in 2013 in the Netherlands by de Tijdstrom.

Moniek and Anne had frequently been asked by their trainees and supervisees if there were a more up-to-date book on Transactional Analysis (TA) than those readily available on the market.  There really wasn’t, so Moniek and Anne decided to write one.  They chose a rather unusual format in writing theory sections for less experienced practitioners followed by further material for those more advanced in their practice and readings.  The second portion of the book was comprised of brief chapters that illustrated TA in actual practice.  One of the unique things about transactional analysis is that there are trainings, examinations, and certification in four fields of application: psychotherapy, counseling, education, and organizational development.  So one of the unique aspects of the book they devised was that it represented all four fields of practice.


The original book by Moniek Thunnissen and Anne de Graaf

The book was so well received and successful, Moniek and Anne decided to do an English-language edition.  They invited me as a representative of the psychotherapy and counseling fields and Trudi Newton as a representative the educational field to help them clarify the English translation and edit the English-language essays on practice, which were to be drawn from authors around the world.  Since I thought the Dutch book was such a unique approach to presenting contemporary TA, and I do a lot of editing, I thought their invitation would be a great use of my free time!

“Free time” and then some!—as it became rapidly clear that Trudi and I had signed on for a considerably more extensive and challenging undertaking.  We proved to be quite a team.  Through many, many emails and regular Skype conferences, while retaining the original format, we re-fashioned the book from beginning to end.  Some of our emails and Skype conferences became quite spirited.  For me as an author and editor, it was exciting and refreshing to work with colleagues from different cultures and different fields of practice who were quite comfortable disagreeing with one another.  We had many stimulating and satisfying virtual conversations over different aspects of theory.  We had each learned our trade in different cultures, different periods of time in the development of TA, and different professional cultures, so it was a rich stew in which this book got cooked up!  We had vigorous disagreements over various aspects of theory and tried to convey those differing points of view within the final text.  As the authors and editors of this book, we had no desire to represent a single, “true” voice or perspective on theory.  Transactional analysis theories and practices are rapidly growing and changing, and we wanted to capture that diversity in this textbook.

Into TA expands the theoretical discussion that was original to the Dutch edition.  We preserved the use of basic theory followed by discussions of more advanced theory.  We include, in a fashion that may be rather unusual for a textbook, the controversies over some aspects of theory and problems in the evolution of TA.  The theory section endeavors to represent theoretical developments in all four fields of application.  The discussions then link elements of TA theory and practice to such contemporary models as psychoanalysis, CBT, family systems, and other relevant models in human relations work.

While Moniek and Anne oriented their Dutch book toward practitioners, trainees, and supervisees already involved in TA, we have fashioned this book to a broader audience of mental health and human relations professionals, independent of specific theoretical orientations.  It is a book that seeks to emphasize and illustrate the common links and strengths among models, rather than the differences.


Eric Berne

The second section of the book is again one of very accessible essays on the actual practice of TA in each of the four fields of application.  We invited authors from all over the world—and again differing points of view—to illustrate the diversity and vitality of TA in practice.

Moniek, Anne, Trudi, and I have made every effort to capture and convey contemporary transactional analysis as it is actually thought and practiced today.  The originator of TA, Eric Berne, was constantly changing and challenging his own thinking.  His untimely death at 60 seemed to freeze the development of TA for quite some time.  Contemporary transactional analysis is alive with the same spirit of curiosity, challenge, and sometime trouble-making that was so much a part of the character and intent of Berne.

Being a part of the author/editor team with Trudi, Anne, and Moniek has been a deeply satisfying experience—a remarkable privilege.  There is the clichéd phrase, “if I must say so myself,” that I’d like to edit a bit so as to say, “I am delighted to say so myself” that we have produced a book that I think will become a classic in the TA literature.

Bill Cornell

About the Editors

36050William F. Cornell, MA, teaching and supervising transactional analyst, maintains an independent prvate practice of therapy, consultation, and training in Pittsburgh, USA. He is a co-editor of the Transactional Analysis Journal and has published extensively in a broad range of journals and psychotherapy books. He is the author of Explorations in Transactional Analysis: The Meech Lake Papers, editor of James McLaughlin’s The Healer’s Bent: Solitude and Dialogue in the Clinical Encounter, and co-editor with Helena Hargaden of From Transactions to Relations: The Emergence of a Relational Tradition in Transactional Analysis.

Anne de Graaf, MSc, is a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst in the field of Management and Organisational Development. For many years he worked for a large (TA based) consultancy firm in the Netherlands. Currently he is the co-owner and teacher/supervisor at one of the largest TA training institutes in the world, TA academie. He is also the co-author of the successful TA management book Einstein and the Art of Sailing.

Trudi Newton is a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst in Education and discovered transactional analysis about twenty-five years ago, and since then has used it in all areas of life and enjoyed introducing others to its delights and benefits through training, supervision and personal connection. Now a writer, researcher and consultant working with other educators to facilitate radical learning and community development, she previously delivered TA training in Cambridge and London, UK, and in other countries including Russia and South Africa. She has written several books including Tactics, (with Rosemary Napper), which looks in detail at the process of learning and teaching.

Moniek Thunnissen, MD, PhD, is a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst in psychotherapy. She is a psychiatrist working in her own company for treatment, supervision, consultation and training. In the TA Academy in Soesterberg she developed the TA psychotherapy program. As a psychiatrist-psychotherapist she worked in Psychotherapeutic Centre De Viersprong for sixteen years and completed her PhD research on the long term results of the TA program for patients with personality disorders. Later she was the director of training for psychiatrists in the mental hospital in Bergen op Zoom. She is the author of seven books and numerous articles on TA, psychotherapy and psychiatry. She was Vice President of Research and Innovation of the International Transactional Analysis Association and is part of the Editorial Board of the Transactional Analysis Journal.

One thought on “INTO TA—Personal reflections, by Bill Cornell

  1. Pingback: The Snake in the Clinic: Psychotherapy’s Role in Medicine and Healing, by Guy Dargert |

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