So what is this Parent Adult Child they keep going on about ? Part One
It has been a long journey for me to becoming a therapist, something that started way back at the age of fourteen. I just happen to find myself searching through an alternative bookshop in Liverpool City Centre were I discovered the works of (unbeknown to me) some of the masters of Psychotherapy such as Sigmund Freud, R.D. Laing and Charles Rycroft. I had no idea what Psychotherapy was or even why I began to explore this area of interest, I just know that it fascinated me, and began to open up so many possibilities in respect of how to view the world of self that we all experience. But that is another story for another time.
Today’s blog introduces one aspect of the theory put forward by the late Eric Berne, the founder of Transactional Analysis (TA). It is one of the fundamental aspects that underpin TA, the concept of Parent, Adult, Child, (PAC). This is always the starting point with all my clients when explaining what will be the focus of our work together.
You may have noticed that my company is called Edenpac and the PAC is there for two reasons, it stands for Psychotherapy and Counselling but also Parent Adult Child, referencing the importance of this in my practice.
One of the great things about TA is the way it uses ideas that anyone can understand with a little explanation. I believe this enables the client to be more aware of what is being explored in relation to the on going interaction with the therapist. It helps to empower the client, giving them a simple toolkit to follow the process and apply this to their own ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. This is essential to create the changes they are seeking.
Parent, Adult, Child, are the three ego states that we function in, at any one time, controlling our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
The Parent, Adult, Child can be observed through words, sounds, gestures, postures and facial expressions, and the reactions and instinctive response the therapist feels during that interaction. For example if the therapist is feeling a parental reaction to the client it is most likely that the client is in their Child ego state. It is about drawing attention to these responses that help the client understanding their own feelings, thoughts and behaviours in relation to a particular ego state of being.
So what is this Parent Adult Child thing?
I recently had an exchange with one of my clients whose behaviour was causing upset for their partner. They justified the behaviour saying they had always done it, and it was a big part of their past training in the police force. I asked if they thought this was a childish way to behave? but I was not referring to their Child ego state, there is a difference. If it were related to their Child ego state I would be asking them to reflect on where this was learnt in their childhood, as it would be behaviour learnt during childhood to protect them. Clearly it was not and there is a distinct difference.
In my next blog I will look at these three egos states in a bit more detail.