Developmental TA Explained

TA’s original focus was on ‘curing the patient’.

Development TA’s focus is on the ‘healthy functioning’.

Developmental TA gives us the tools and skills to support individuals and organisations towards healthy and productive functioning.

Developmental TA as an assessment or analytical tool

Identifying the real or underlying issues assists us to contract clearly for realistic and achievable outcomes.
Amelia’s staff refuse to engage in the company’s new focus.  Maryanne, a TA organisational specialist, is asked to assist. 
Her meeting with Amelia, and manager, Rob, outlines the history, current situation and the company’s expectations for the future. Meetings with various staff provide information about their perceptions, hopes and fears for their and the company’s future. 

Maryanne’s analysis of the situation (using the TA theories) and presentation of a plan enables her to present a contract that is clear, explicit.  It is made available to all parties for them to consider and assess if it will achieve the outcomes they all want. 


Developmental TA gives us the tools to Succeed

The level at which we discount a problem or its significance, gives us the opportunity to find the appropriate solutions.

 Amelia and Rob want the organisation and the department to succeed.  The staff are happy with the status quo; they don’t see any need for change. They’ve seen it all before.

The managers and staff agree to talk through the current issues and to openly listen to each other.

Using the ‘Steps to Success’ booklet, Maryanne encourages all the parties to listen for where they are ‘stuck’, what they are discounting (or choosing not to hear or understand) or what additional information is required from which to make good decisions.

Developmental TA gives us the principles on which to develop healthy organisations

Innovation and creativity are the lifeblood of a thriving organisation. Trust is vital in developing openness and giving creativity and opportunity to develop.

During the original discussions Maryanne heard people talk about a lack of fundamental trust.  Comments like: “she doesn’t even say good morning”; “we don’t have team meetings”, “I wouldn’t dare tell anyone about an idea – they would shoot me down in flames.” 

Agreeing on the fundamental values the team will work within establishes a platform from which to build trust.  TA’s ‘windows on the world’, (our OK positions), helps to focus our attention on respect, valuing each other and our ideas – even the weird and wonderful, as well as how to respectfully challenge each other.

Develomental TA helps us untangle the difficult issues and turn them around

Confusion, arguments, disciplinary action or industrial action result in disengagement of one sort or another and draw us away from positive connection.


Past interactions have resulted in people feeling like victims, rescuers or persecutors.  The result has been reduced trust, even when the interactions have started from what was considered a ‘helpful’ place. 

Maryanne’s introduction of the TA concept of ‘games’ had everyone nodding their heads in recognition of the dynamics that are a regular occurrence of the ‘drama’ that is created.

With relief, they appreciate the subtle difference shifting position to being in the ‘winners’ paradigm.  They agree to stay connected and support each other in being assertive, acknowledging vulnerability and being a thoughtful team member. 


Developmental TA is effective in understanding preferred working styles

When deadlines are looming, budgets tight, customers demanding, people sick and additional expectations are put on remaining staff, we often resort to the destructive behaviours.

Maryanne introduced a questionnaire to assist them identify their preferred working styles.  They recognised the destructive behaviours when stressed, under pressure and tired.  They also recognised that when they were are high functioning, their constructive behaviours were the opposite of the ‘driven’ and destructive behaviours. 

They became aware of the behaviours that had been driving the previous disengagement. 

This awareness led them to consider how they interacted with other departments and ultimately with their customers. They made agreements about how to mindfully enjoy the positive aspects of the working styles while being mindful of the destructive potential. 


TA had its origins in psychiatry - curing the patient which involved therapy by a qualified and competent therapist.

With the development of TA into such fields as Organisational, Educational and Coaching, the emphasis on 'cure' was not appropriate.  


Julie Hay (TSTA Org/Ed/Psych) in England coined the phrase 'Developmental TA' to differentiate it and to put the emphasis on healthy functioning.  Several people including Julie have then adapted the various TA theories (previously with the focus on pathology) to ones appropriate to focusing on health which enable people to 'develop' and function more appropriately in their world.

Within workplaces, organisations and in the coaching role, these developmental TA theories can be of huge benefit to better understand ourselves, our colleagues, managers, course participants, family and friends and our social contacts.

I trust you will be intrigued and want to look further for what TA has to offer you, your organisation/workplace, university, school, church group, voluntary group …

Developmental TA puts the emphasis on "Healthy Functioning ... to enable people to develop and function more appropriately in their world"