Navigating Couples Therapy When Your Partner Isn’t on the Same Page

Deciding to seek couples psychotherapy can be a significant step toward improving your relationship. When you opt for the modality of Transactional Analysis (TA), it demonstrates your commitment to understanding and resolving issues in a healthy and constructive manner. However, what happens when you’re all in, but your partner isn’t on the same page? Challenges in couples therapy like this can be overcome and could be the start of sorting things out.

Open Communication

Start by having an open and honest conversation with your partner about your desire to pursue TA couples psychotherapy. Clearly express your reasons for wanting to do so and listen to their concerns and reservations. Encourage your partner to share their perspective, and try to empathise with their feelings.

Education and Information

Share information about TA therapy and what to expect with your partner. Provide resources, books, or articles that explain what TA is and how it can benefit couples. This knowledge might help alleviate some of their concerns or misconceptions about the therapy.

Respect Their Decision

It’s essential to respect your partner’s choice if they are not willing to engage in TA couples therapy at this time. Understand that therapy should be a mutual decision, and pushing your partner into it may lead to resistance and resentment.


While you may have initially sought therapy as a couple, you can still embark on individual therapy in the modality of TA. Working on your own issues can have a positive impact on your relationship, and your partner may eventually be inspired to join you.

Patience and Understanding

Remember that everyone progresses at their own pace. Be patient with your partner and try to understand their concerns. Encourage open dialogue and revisit the topic periodically, as their perspective may evolve over time.

Setting Boundaries

If your partner’s unwillingness to participate in TA therapy is causing significant strain on your relationship, it may be helpful to establish clear boundaries and expectations about how you’ll navigate these differences.

Seek Mediation

If your relationship issues are severe, consider seeking the assistance of a professional mediator or relationship coach. They can help facilitate communication between you and your partner and guide you toward mutually beneficial solutions.


While you’re waiting for your partner’s decision or working through your own issues, don’t neglect self-care. Maintaining your emotional and mental well-being is essential, regardless of your partner’s choices.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue couples psychotherapy in the modality of Transactional Analysis should be a joint one. If your partner is not initially open to the idea, it’s important to respect their boundaries and proceed with understanding and patience. Over time, with open communication and the right approach, they may come to see the benefits of TA therapy for your relationship. In the meantime, remember that self-work and self-care can still bring about positive changes within your partnership.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

What To Expect in Couples Therapy

Couples psychotherapy can be a transformative journey, offering couples a chance to address their challenges, enhance communication, and foster a healthier, more fulfilling relationship. When it comes to the modality of transactional analysis, expect a unique and insightful approach that delves into the dynamics of your relationship. If you are considering couples therapy, the following information will tell you a bit more about what to expect in couples therapy in the framework of transactional analysis.

Understanding Transactional Analysis

Transactional analysis is a psychotherapy approach that focuses on interpersonal interactions and communication patterns within relationships. TA was developed by Eric Berne and is based on the idea that individuals engage in transactions, or social exchanges, which can be analysed to better understand behaviour and relationships. When applied to couples therapy, it helps partners recognise and change unproductive patterns of interaction.

The Initial Assessment

Your journey in couples therapy begins with an initial assessment. The therapist will meet with you both to gather information about your relationship history, concerns, and goals. This stage is crucial to establish trust and a therapeutic alliance between the couple and the therapist.

Exploring Life Scripts

In transactional analysis, life scripts are ingrained beliefs and patterns of behaviour that we develop early in life. During therapy, you and your partner will explore your individual life scripts and how they impact your relationship. This deep introspection can be eye-opening and help you gain insight into your dynamics.

Analysing Ego States

Transactional analysis identifies three ego states: Parent, Adult, and Child. Understanding these ego states in both yourself and your partner is a fundamental aspect of couples therapy in this modality. It allows you to recognise when you and your partner are operating from different states and how this influences your interactions.

Transactional Patterns

A core focus in transactional analysis couples therapy is analysing the transactions between you and your partner. Are you engaging in complementary transactions, where you reinforce each other’s ego states, or are you caught in crossed transactions, leading to miscommunication and conflict? Identifying these patterns is essential for facilitating change.

Contracting for Change

Once the therapist and the couple have a comprehensive understanding of the relationship dynamics, they work together to create a contract for change. This contract outlines the specific goals and objectives of therapy, as well as the commitments both partners are willing to make to achieve these goals.

Ongoing Work

Couples therapy using transactional analysis is not a quick fix but a process that requires ongoing effort and commitment. Expect to engage in exercises and discussions that challenge your existing communication patterns and encourage healthier interactions.

In summary, couples psychotherapy in the modality of transactional analysis provides an opportunity for couples to gain a deeper understanding of their relationship dynamics, change unproductive patterns, and ultimately enhance their connection. It’s a journey of self-discovery and improved communication that can lead to a more fulfilling and harmonious partnership. If you and your partner are considering couples therapy, transactional analysis may be the transformative approach you’ve been searching for.

Transactional Analysis and the Ego State Model of Personality

The ego state model of personality is a central concept in Transactional Analysis. As a practitioner of Transactional Analysis, the ego state model is one I often use in my work as a psychoanalytic approach to therapy and personal growth. The model posits that individuals have three distinct ego states that operate within their personality: Parent, Adult, and Child. The founder of TA, Eric Berne defined an ego state as ‘a system of feelings accompanied by related set of behaviour patterns.’

Berne believed that there are three ego states in everyone and that together they constitute our individual personalities.

Ego States

The Parent ego state is characterised by learned behaviours, attitudes, and values that were passed down from one’s own parents or other authority figures. This state can be further divided into two sub-states: the Nurturing Parent (providing care and support) and the Critical Parent (providing rules and boundaries). When individuals are in the Parent ego state, they may act in ways that reflect the attitudes and behaviors they learned from their own parents or other authority figures.

The Child ego state is characterised by emotions, impulses, and behaviours that reflect earlier stages of development. This state can also be further divided into two sub-states: the Free Child (spontaneous and creative) and the Adapted Child (conforming to others’ expectations). When individuals are in their Child ego state, they may act in ways that reflect their emotional reactions to situations.

The Adult ego state is characterised by a rational, logical, and objective approach to life. When individuals are in the Adult ego state, they are able to process information and make decisions based on the present reality, without being influenced by emotions or past experiences.

The ego state model of personality suggests that individuals can switch between these three ego states depending on the situation and their emotional state. By identifying which ego state is most dominant in a given situation, individuals can gain insight into their behaviours and make conscious choices about how to respond.

Transactional Analysis Therapy

Transactional analysis aims to help individuals develop their Adult ego state to be more effective in their personal and professional relationships. Through therapy, individuals can learn to recognise and manage their emotional reactions, communicate more effectively, and make choices that are aligned with their values and goals.


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