KOCHI: As Kochi prepares to host the 46th National Conference on Transactional Analysis (TA) from November 27 to December 1, not many would know that the city is home to India’s largest institute for transactional analysis, or the fact that ‘Father of Transactional Analysis in India’ is a Keralite. Very popular in the West, Transactional Analysis—a multifaceted system of psychotherapy developed by Canadian psychiatrist Eric Berne in 1953—is also gaining acceptance as a major stream of mental health therapy in India.
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Institute for Counselling and Transactional Analysis (ICTA) is situated at Santigram in South Kalamassery. Spread over 15,000 sq.ft in a three-storey building, it was founded in 1973, and has since trained hundreds of people in the process. According to Varghese John, secretary of ICTA the institute has over 1000 trainees in the last one to two years through its basic 2-day course.
Another 400-500 people have availed the advanced Bernian TA (BTA) and Master in TA courses both of which are 2 years long. John, an independent TA counsellor says that the procedure can treat almost all types of mental health problems, and reduces the need for medication. Parenting is an important element in TA, as the crux of this mode of psychotherapy examines our beliefs and values transferred from parents or guardian figures, and analyses the influence of ego states (The Parent, The Adult and The Child) on behaviour and relationships.
Fr George Kandathil (he passes away in 2011) the founder of the ICTA, is known as the ‘Father of TA in India’. He stumbled upon the concept in early 1971, when he was sent to California to study counselling. He attended classes by Muriel James, an early member of the International Transactional Analysis Association and author of bestsellers on the method including ‘Born to Win: Transactional Analysis with Gestalt Experiments’, ‘The OK Boss’ and ‘What Do You Do With Them Now That You’ve Got Them?’.
“I went to the States to study counselling at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) at California, hoping that I would find some way of helping others, especially through religious counselling. I was disappointed. It was at that time that my guide introduced me to TA. I found it simple, easy to understand, personally profitable and easily communicable,” he writes, in the ‘Historyof ICTA– Santigram’.
On returning to India, Fr Kandathil gave his first TA seminar in 1971 at Thiruvananthapuram and later at an all-Kerala meeting of TA held at St Teresa’s College in Ernakulam on March 19, 1973. It was decided that an association to promote TA and a centre for counselling would be installed.
Nisha Lohiya, one of the conveners of the upcoming conference in Kochi explains that ICTA is secular, and it has helped hundreds to return to a normal, healthy life. Few of the prominent speakers at the conference are Swami Bhadreshananda, adyaksha of Ramakrishna Math, Vyttila, Dr Pearl Drego, founder of TACET (Transactional Analytic Centre for Education Research & Training) and Bishop Thomas Tharayil, auxiliary bishop of Archdiocese of Changanassery.