Ego states are the core model of Transactional Analysis. They provide a way of understanding our personality; how we think, feel and behave.
Eric Berne defined an ego-state as a consistent pattern of feeling and experience directly related to a corresponding consistent pattern of behaviour. So, Berne is saying that each ego state is defined by a combination of feelings and experience that consistently occur together.
As we interact from different ego states, we invite different responses from those around us. Analysis of ego states helps us to understand the interactions we have with others. Ego state theory is used in all four fields of TA to help us build strong relationships with others
The PAC Model
Ego state structural model
Parent - behaviours, thoughts and feelings copied from parents or parental figures.
Adult – behaviours, thoughts and feelings which are direct responses to the here-and-now.
Child – behaviours, thoughts and feelings replayed from childhood.
Ego state functional model
Controlling Parent (CP) - behaviours promoting observation of rules, should and musts.
Nurturing Parent (NP) – behaviours conveying acceptance, nurturing, caring.
Adult – behaviours responding to the here-and now logically and rationally.
Adapted Child (AC) – behaviours often replayed from childhood, that either comply or rebel to rules and expectations of parental figures.
Free Child (FC) – behaviours that express spontaneity, creativity and are independent from others’ expectations.
Eric Berne named his ego state model in a way that was easy to understand for the client. When we thinks of the terms Parent, Adult and Child we can immediately bring to mind thoughts, feelings and behaviours from our own childhood.
There are two versions of the ego state model. The Structural model looks at the content of our ego states and the thoughts and feelings associated with our childhood memories. TA Psychotherapy is likely to include a great deal of structural ego state analysis.
The Functional model explores how our ego states affect our behaviour and in particular our interactions with others. All four fields of TA will use the functional ego state model to help us build strong relationships whether at home, in the workplace or in education.