Time Structuring

Eric Berne’s 1971 book on life scripts asked the question “What do we do after we say hello?” It may seem like a simple question but understanding how we choose to structure our time asks fundamental questions about who we are and how we relate to others.

Imagine you have been invited to a work conference where you know very few people. Do you go up to strangers and introduce yourself? Or do you stay at the side of the room waiting or looking for someone you know?

Eric Berne listed six ways we structure time; withdrawal, rituals, pastimes, activities, games and intimacy. If you choose to work with a Transactional Analyst, it is likely that you will spend much of your time looking at Games.

Games are a way of understanding repetitive patterns of behaviour which lead to predictable, usually negative, outcomes. The outcome, or payoff, is often related to a painful emotion such as anger, sadness, or rejection. There are a number of TA models that analyse Games. The most common are Eric Berne’s Formula G and Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle.

Games are one of the ways in which our life script is acted out.


Spending time in isolation



Internal self talk or rumination

Getting into onceself




Polite exchanges

Structures activities




Talking about predictable subjects without engaging any action


Planning or performing actions

Working physically or mentally

Doing Chores


Sequence of interactions between people, usually ending in both feeling bad and with a sense of "having been here before"


Honest exchanges between people

Moments where feelings are expressed genuinely and effectively

Can include being vulnerable or nonn defensive in conflicts

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