Bulls n' Bears


Ego Fortification and Stabilization, Contracts I

When someone enters transactional analysis therapy, the therapist will agree a contract. This contract would state what would be achieved by therapy; what symptom or condition would be relieved and that the patient would be taught to understand his own behaviour and that of others in terms of transactional analysis.

This approach is therapeutic in itself; it puts the responsibility for improvement jointly on the therapist and the patient. The therapist has a responsibility to explain and teach, while the patient is responsible for using the knowledge that is made available.

This limits the cop out where the patient may expect everything to come from the therapist, so that lack of improvement can be blamed on the therapist. Although a complete cure may not be realistic, improvement and stabilization of the symptoms can be achieved.

Somehow, if you can see that you are simply doing something you have learned to do or responding in a habitual way to situations and that it is up to you to change, can be very empowering. You are no longer so much at the mercy of your beliefs when you realize that they are the source of your problem and that the solution lies with you and not in driving out some demon.

The idea that “the Devil made me do it”, is very disempowering – who can stand up to the Devil? Even if only a limited stabilization of the condition is achieved, the patient has been provided with a useful tool to understand himself. And understanding the problem is a huge step towards changing. “Know thyself, and that knowledge shall set you free”. This comes from ancient times and is still an insight of genius.

Also, with the new insights now available to him, the patient can now identify improvements, however slight. Any improvement provides encouragement to persist. The new understanding also limits the scope of the problem to something of manageable proportions; instead of a fearful unknown problem it may now be reduced to changing a behaviour learnt in childhood due to a specific situation.