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Transactional Analysis Journal

The Effects of a Transactional Analysis Training Program on Self-Esteem in

Learning-Disabled Boys
Sharon Golub and Louise A. Guerriero
Transactional Analysis Journal 1981 11: 244
DOI: 10.1177/036215378101100310

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The Effects of a Transactional Analysis
Training Program on Self-Esteem in
Learning-Disabled Boys
Sharon Golub
Louise A. Guerriero

Abstract despite some evidence of its usefulness

Ten learning-disabled boys, ages 10 to (Amundson, 1975; Amundson &
12, participated in a transactional analysis Sawatzky, 1976; Garrison & Fischer, 1978).
training program in a special education For example, Amundson and Sawatzky
class in an elementary scbool. Tbe program (1976) reported a significant increase in
included teacbing basic TA concepts, role both self -esteem and peer acceptance
playing, and TA exercises. Tbe Cooper- following a TA education program for
smitb Self-Esteem Inventory (SEI) was children in grades three to six in a
administered at tbe beginning of tbe pro- Canadian elementary school.
gram and after tbe six weeks of training. Children in special education classes are
Bebavior Rating Scales (DRF) were com- often doubly handicapped. Not only do
pleted by tbe classroom teacber at tbe same they have a learning disability, but they are
times. SEI scores increased significantly, also likely to experience potent "not O.K."
wbereas no significant cbanges in BRS feelings about themselves. Behavioral
scores were observed. Data suggest tbat symptoms often accompany learning
learning disabled children can learn and problems. Does TA have something to
utUlze some basic TA concepts, witb a offer these children? Clinical interventions
concurrent enbancement of self-esteem using TA have been reported to be effective
and peer relationsbips. in working with learning disabled children
on a one to one basis (Henderson, 1978).
However, the feasibility and efficacy of
Helping people to understand and feel actually teaching TA concepts to special
good about themselves is an important part education classes has not been established.
of what TA is all about. To be able to do This study was undertaken in order to
this during childhood is an ambitious and evaluate the usefulness of a TA training
admirable goal. Several books have been program in enhancing the self-esteem of a
written specifically addressing the needs of class of learning-disabled boys.
children. Particularly noteworthy are
Alvyn Freed's TA for Tots and TA for Method
Kids (1973; 1971) and a book for parents,
Raising Kids O.K. by Babcock and Keepers
(1976). Teaching TA concepts simply and Ten boys in a special education
offering children an opportunity to think learning-disabled class in a suburban public
about and express their feelings, these elementary school served as subjects. The
books represent an important move toward boys ranged in age from 10 to 12. Their
fostering mental health. grade equivalent ranged from second to
Unfortunately, little in the way of TA fifth grade. They were from varied racial,
teaching has been done in the schools, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

244 Transactional Analysis Journal

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Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory Self-Esteem Behavior

Inventory Rating Form
(SEI. The SEI (Coopersmith, 1967) is a Subjects Mean S.D. Mean S.D. t
measure of self-esteem developed for use
with elementary school children. The Training 65.20 15.26 63.80 10.30
inventory is comprised of 58 items; each After 2.37* 0.53
item is a short statement such as "I often Training 68.80 12.58 65.40 14.57
wish I were someone else," to which the Normal Boys 81.30 12.20 65.00 16.20
respondent replies either "like me" or *p <.05
"unlike me." Test-retest reliability for the
SEI is .88 after a five week interval. Table 1
Behavior Rating Form (BRF). The BRF Self-Esteem Inventory and Behavior Rating
is a 13 item questionnaire designed to be From Mean Scores and Standard Deviations
completed by classroom teachers. The Before and After TATraining
items tap the teacher's appraisal of the
child's behavior. Questions are asked
about the child's entry into group discus-
sions or activities, peer relationships, and following the training program were
such maladaptive behaviors as whining, significantly higher than pre-program
withdrawal, undue restlessness, or scores (p .05). As shown in Table 1, the
aggression. mean score on initial testing was 65.20 and
following training the mean rose to 68.80.
It is notable that both of these mean scores
Prior to beginning and upon completion are considerably lower than those of the
of the TA training program described normal 10 to 12 year old boys tested by
below, the Self-Esteem Inventory was Coopersmith (1967). Since no control
individually administered to each of the group was used, an admitted limitation of
subjects. The experimenter read each this study, one cannot conclude
statement to the subject and then recorded unequivocally that the change in self-
his response. The classroom teacher also esteem scores was due to the training
completed a Behavior Rating Form for program. However, in view of the test-
each child before and after the program. retest reliability of the SEI, attributing the
The TA training program consisted of 18 change in scores to the training program
sessions, approximately one half hour seems reasonable. Moreover, the
long, over a period of six weeks. During the magnitude of the change in the self-esteem
sessions the books TA for Kids and TA for scores of these learning-disabled boys is
Tots were read, exercises to demonstrate comparable to that seen in earlier studies
the concepts of ego states and stroking (Amundson, 1975; Amundson &
were carried out (James & Jongeward, Sawatzky, 1976).
1971), and specific role-playing situations A significant change was not found on
were enacted. Role-plays included common the Behavior Rating Forms completed by
parent-child controversies and role the teacher. However, most of the boys'
reversals were used to help the child to see scores did increase and the mean moved in
the parent's point of view. Feelings of
the expected direction, from 63.80 to
anger and rejection were also addressed in 65.40. Here too, comparison with the
role-play situations and constructive normative data is of interest. The teacher
coping techniques werediscussed.
of the learning-disabled boys did not
evaluate her students much differently than
Results and Discussion did teachers of normal boys whose mean
The TA training program was indeed was 65.00. The special education teacher
effective in increasing the boys' self- apparently operates with expectations that
esteem. Self-Esteem Inventory scores are appropriate for her students.
Vol. 11, No.3, July 1981 245

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Anecdotal evidence of change is also Sharon Golub, PhD, is Associate

relevant in this study. One of the Professor and Chairperson, Department of
experimenters (Guerriero), who was Psychology, School ofArts & Sciences and
student teaching in this classroom during the Graduate School, College of New
the six week training program, observed Rochelle, New Rochelle, New York.
several changes in classroom behavior. Louise A. Guerriero, MS, is a 5th grade
During and after the program, subjects teacher at Holy Trinity School,
were less likely to criticize one another; Mamaroneck, New York and is a Recrea-
they were more considerate of each others' tional Specialist with the New Rochelle
feelings and tried to help classmates who Parks and Recreation Developmentally
were having problems. The incidence of DisabledProgram.
spontaneous, positive stroking among the
students increased markedly. This is in
keeping with the findings of Garrison and
Fisher (1978) who noted positive
behavioral changes in their normal third REFERENCES
and sixth grade subjects following a TA Amundson, N.E. TA with elementary school children:
A pilot study. TransactionalAnalysis Journal, 1975,
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(1980) also reported behavioral change Amundson, N.E., & Sawatzky, D.O. A summative
following intervention in their intensive evaluation of the "transactional analysis with
study of one student-teacher relationship. children" program. TransactionalAnalysis Journal,
This kind of qualitative data supports the 1976,6, 326-328.
findings on the Self Esteem Inventory and Babcok, D.E., & Keepers,T.D. Raising kids O.K. New
Behavior Rating Forms. York: Grove, 1976.
This study demonstrates that learning- Coopersmith, S. The antecedents of self-esteem.
California: Freeman, 1967.
disabled children can understand and learn
Freed, A.M. TA for tots. Sacramento, California:
to use some of the basic concepts of Jalmar Press, 1973.
transactional analysis. The TA training Freed, A.M. TA for kids. Sacramento, California:
program described here apparently served Jalmar Press, 1971.
to enhance the self-esteem of the learning- Garrison, C. & Fischer, R. Introducing TA in the
disabled boys in this sample and influenced public school system. Transactional Analysis
their peer relationships in the classroom. Journal, 1978,8,240-242.
Further development of TA training Henderson, A.J. Transactional analysis in the learning
disability clinic. Transactional Analysis Journal,
programs for use in schools with both 1978,8,242-244.
normal and special children seems to be James, M., : Jongeward, D. Born to win. Massa-
warranted. In the future, program chusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1971.
evaluation using both experimental and Kenney, W.J., & Lyons, B.F. A TA model of school
control groups and long-term follow-up consultation: An empirical analysis. Transactional
studies would be useful. Analysis Journal, 1980,10, 264-269.

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