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Vol 23, No 3, Article 3, PDF

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Psychological Games in the Consulting Room, by Jo Stuthridge & Charlotte Sills 

Abstract: In this article, we describe some of our thinking about working with the transferential dramas that Eric Berne referred to as “psychological games”. A game involves a repetitive sequence of interpersonal events, similar to the psychoanalytic concept of enactments. Berne understood these interpersonal dynamics as an unconscious attempt to reinforce defenses and therefore something to be avoided in the consulting room; however, in this paper we explore how the therapist’s participation in a game can become an important avenue for “hearing” the client’s unspoken communication. Drawing on the work of various psychoanalysts and relational thinkers alongside Berne’s concept of ‘degrees of games,’ we elaborate a way that psychotherapists can think about and resolve games in a way that enhances the psychotherapeutic work, through analyzing counter-transferential responses. 

Key Words: Berne, countertransference analysis, drama triangle, enactment, psychological game, relational transactional analysis, script. 

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