Q&A with Dr Mandy Lacy...
An inspiring interview with Dr Mandy Lacy on her background and qualification in the Transactional Analysis Organisational Psychology.
What is your background?
My first experience of work was on the farm I grew up on. My fascination with groups began as being part of a large family and then when I had holiday jobs working in local shearing gangs and then whilst nursing. I was always curious about how groups and leaders operated. Just like a family, the leaders set the tone and impact strongly on group dynamics and productivity.
“Just like a family the leaders set the tone and impact strongly
on the group dynamics and productivity.”
After my nurse training, I found myself in Perth, Western Australia for 11 years where I pivoted from doing overseas travel, to training in pediatric nursing in between having two children. It was during a major health project where I was the change manager, that I ended up doing a TA101 and counselling course. When returning to New Zealand I was determined to do more learning in TA and ended up at a 7-day TA residential event. It was here I discovered there were four fields of which organisational psychology was one. Once I experienced this I knew I wanted to learn more, TA just made sense to me.
The rest is history I went on to become a Certified Transactional Analyst. In 2013, after a further 7 years training and supervision, I qualified as a teaching and supervising transactional analyst (known as TSTA) in the organisational field. I continued my consulting work and private supervision/coaching practice across New Zealand and Australia during this time.
In 2014 I completed a Masters's degree in Learning Science and Technology at the University of Sydney. I have always loved facilitating learning and studying - how people learn through the learning sciences and with technology fascinated me especially within for workplace learning and professional development. I loved it so much that I have continued my research of learning in the workplace as a Ph.D. candidate. Albeit the challenge of balancing home and family, consulting contracts and writing up my research - I am passionate about them all!
How has TA helped you personally?
Completing 15 years of education, training, and supervision sound outrageous or crazy, however, it was because of the personal development that it never felt a burden. Sure it was arduous at times however, it was the continuous application of theory to practice through teaching and supervision that I gained so much. And the elders and teachers that I considered were extraordinary and authentic role models.
“The vision from TA founder Dr. Eric Berne of wanting language and concepts that everyone could understand… has always influenced me greatly.”
The vision from TA founder Dr. Eric Berne of wanting language and concepts that everyone could understand, to make decisions and changes to lead fulfilling and satisfying lives, has always influenced me greatly. The equality of language and not a power-based dialogue where the receiver of a service doesn't understand what terms and words mean. I have been majorly impacted by this and continue to be impressed by this thinking and intention.
In some ways this also created a disservice to the TA modality as in some areas it was interpreted as being too simplistic and in the 70's was referred to as a 'pop-psychology'. Contemporary TA remains rooted in its foundations yet continues to develop substantially through research, clinical, education and organisational psychology applications to be a robust contemporary modality that remains relevant and meaningful to those that apply and use TA.
How do you use TA in your life?
I have integrated TA to all aspects of my life - mostly without consciously thinking about it. I generally apply or think about TA concepts in all my day to day interactions and relationships with people, when planning and implementing change projects, for teaching, providing professional supervision and coaching. If relationships or situations are challenging I often use TA concepts and practical tools to understand how my role, words and actions have impacted on others and the situation. It doesn't mean it always resolves things more it helps me understand some of the reasons as to why it was challenging or difficult. Often this can be difficult when we are so close to the situation so I use professional supervision to keep learning about myself in relation to others and to the goals I have.
What makes TA different to the other modalities offered?
I think TA does have a language and concepts that are easily understood. There are diagrams that I find instrumental in being able to comprehend TA more fully. Berne believed that if you can't draw it, you don't understand it. I think this is very true both from a client, group and learner perspective.
“Berne believed that if you can't draw it, you don't understand it.”
It's difficult for me to honestly compare TA to other modalities as I don't have the same depth of knowledge about other modalities. But what I do know is that…
You can apply it to yourself immediately…
You don't need to have years of training before you can start applying it to yourself…
The language and diagrams are easily understood…
It is a modality that believes people have the capacity to think and change…
Albeit often referred to the term 'I'm OK, you're ok' that people find totally acceptable - it is a very difficult concept to integrate into everyday life…
The training offers a robust personal and professional experiential education to become a TA practitioner to work with people and groups.
Learning by doing in training is the TA pedagogy that links to the cognitive apprenticeship model
I am continually impressed with the insights and transformations people experience in their personal and professional lives through using TA.
I heard about TA years ago but haven’t heard much since, why is this?
TA was developed in the 1960’s however my philosophy is just because something originated a while ago, it doesn’t necessarily mean its lost its use. It's still extremely valid in today's age, actually more so given the expectation of professional development in the workplace, continuous improvement in group leadership and our interest in growing and developing as humans haven’t gone away, probably more the contrary. Plus, TA has continued to develop over the years, there are new books being published often, more research and evolving theories. TA is widely used over the world these days, it’s a very popular modality in UK and Europe especially. It’s also been adopted in many modalities’ like CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) and a lot of the theories have been used in the original content in popular courses such as The Forum by Landmark. There is also a good bank of research providing evidence of the effectiveness of TA.
Where to next?