One of the important thing that therapists keep in mind when they have a session with a client is how the first greeting takes place in the therapy room. Do we get up? Do we hand shake? What do we do when a client wants to hug? But most importantly, what do we say after we say hello?
I remember when I would go see my own therapist, and although I didn’t pick it up earlier, I realised that he would be merely be sitting down, and no handshakes and he would just stop at saying hello. He would not ask me how I was doing, or what’s going on. That space was my space and I was free to say whatever I wanted to. The point is that the therapist is not to lead the session- the client will.
Today, as a practicing therapist myself, one of the practices I like to keep is to not ask clients “how are you?” I say hello, and hand over the space to my client. They then talk about whatever is on their mind. However, this book has helped me understand the therapist-client relationship on a much deeper level. The littlest of things can be such an important revelation of who we are as humans.
Dr. Eric Berne is very well known in the field of psychotherapy primarily for his extensive work in Transactional Analysis (TA), which is one of the several humanistic counselling theories. The basic premise of TA is that we as individuals respond from one of our three ego state: Parent, Adult and Child. The Child response is how we would respond as a child that we were; the Parent response would be how we see our parents respond; and the Adult response would how we respond maturely, from a balanced ego state.
Dr. Berne’s has written another book called Games People Play, which is a worldwide best seller (and in my humble opinion, a better book to read to understand TA).
Dr. Berne’s book is more like an academic textbook, and doesn’t read like a self-growth book. It is 487 pages long, and takes a very detailed look at the concept of TA. Under a total of 23 chapters, Dr. Berne covers the following under several broad categories:
- General Considerations (What is TA?)
- Parental Programming
- The Script in Action
- The Script in Clinical Practice
- Scientific Approaches to the Theory of Script
In the introduction, Dr. Berne says that the book discusses four questions:
- How do you say Hello?
- How do you say Hello back?
- What do you say after you say Hello?(Yes, he answers this!)
- What is everybody doing instead of saying Hello?
There are two major highlights for me in the book.
One is the whole section on parental programming. Dr. Berns takes us into great details on what happens to a new born baby, and how the littlest of things can affect how the child writes their own script. A life script is defined as “the meaning we attribute to the events that happen to us. Depending on our particular script, we can interpret an event in a number of different ways. Psychologists believe that our life scripts are usually created in childhood.” We are taken right from pre-natal influences, through early developments to later childhood and adolescence right down to the maturity and death. What Dr. Berne successfully shares so well, and in so much details, is how all our thought processes and actions are determined in our childhood.
Secondly, Dr. Berne talks a lot about scripts, and there are lots of them that we can develop in our childhood. There is a whole chapter on how a therapist can help a client see the client’s script, and then facilitate them to work their way through. I feel like if I start talking about all the things Dr. Berne talks about, I won’t be able to do so. The best part about this part of the book is how Dr. Berne talks about how we can all change our script, and unlearn what we learned in our childhood, and can become better versions of ourselves and have that happy ending. That is called changing our destinies.
This book, like I said earlier, is an academic text book. I had thought otherwise. So I did find myself skimming through some of the more heavier stuff he talks about. However, if you are interested in TA, a student of psychotherapy, or a practicing psychotherapist, or simply into parenting and children, then this book is for you.
Or, if you are interested in what makes us humans human, and how we can understand our own self, the way we are, the way we have become, and the way we can alter our destiny, then this book will greatly help you.