A Note From Julie Hay About DTA

The term ‘developmental transactional analysis’ was first used in print in 1995 within the title of my book Donkey Bridges for Developmental TA, Sherwood Publishing.  In 2006 it became the title of a chapter I wrote in Growth and Change for Organizations that was edited by Günther Mohr and Thomas Steinert and published by the International TA Association.

I coined the term ‘developmental’ to distinguish the TA applications that address growth and development rather than ‘cure’.  When different fields of TA application were first introduced, they were referred to as ‘special fields’; these later became separated into organisational, educational and counselling.  Therapeutic application was known then as the ‘clinical’ field and is now called psychotherapy.

It always seemed to me that the three special fields had a lot in common with each other, and were distinct from psychotherapy in similar ways. The essence seemed to be that we all worked with an emphasis on functioning in the here-and-now and keeping out of transference whereas therapists worked with regression and actually used transference as a way to help clients.  I do not mean that developmental TA clients never regress or go into transference; I mean that we work to invite them back into the here-and-now rather than working directly with those phenomena.  And we need to be just as aware of the phenomena as psychotherapists in order to work in this way – we are all similarly liable to the pull of such dynamics.

It is not the intention to have only two fields.  Instead, I think we have two broad approaches that each contain a wide range of applications.  From the fields within DTA, educational could in turn be subdivided into, for example, teaching children or teaching adults, or working in schools compared to working with refugees, or focussing on life skills or parenting skills or citizenship skills, and so on.  Organisational TA requires different skill sets depending on whether the professional is operating as an organisational consultant or trainer or facilitator or mediator, and so on.  The current counselling field describes work that might be undertaken by a coach or a mentor, or indeed a consultant, as well as by a counsellor.  The psychotherapy field is also extensive – therapists might specialise in working with children, or adults, or the elderly, with addictions, with domestic violence, with victims of torture, with individuals or with family systems – so again lots of variety of application.

Developmental TA is of course also the approach that applies for trainers and supervisors whose role is to develop the practitioners who develop the clients.