(Article by Anna Chandy in ‘The Script’, published by the International Transactional Analysis Association, Sept 2013)
Have you explored your cultural wiring as a therapist , trainer or trainee in Transactional Analysis ?
I am a PTSTA in the Counselling field from Bangalore in India, and have a very keen interest in understanding individuals and groups as they move from one developmental stage to another. Bangalore is one of the fastest developing cities both in India and the world. It is the IT hub, and many multinationals have a huge presence here resulting in a heterogeneous, diverse population.
In my experience as a life coach, therapist and trainer, both individuals and groups often experience feelings of “stuckness”, “inertia” and “being rudderless” when they seem to have completed a developmental stage and yet are not aware of it. It is at these phases in their life that they require support, playful challenge and an infusion of energy to promote awareness, movement, recognition and direction required for the next stage. I was experiencing these feelings in my PTSTA journey.
With this perspective in mind, I took the opportunity to visit Oxford in April 2013 and participate as a co trainer and learner with Rosemary Napper for ten intense days. I had the opportunity to train and simultaneously learn with groups from diverse cultural backgrounds. We were three trainers: Sylvia from Austria, Rosemary from the UK and myself from India. The participants in the group of trainees were mainly citizens of several ethnicities from the United Kingdom, the United States and Brazil. To me, ethnicity is the hardware, the deeply embedded psychological wiring that binds the individual to their systemic cultural roots ; citizenship is the software , the multilevel relating language and coding, individuals or groups learn and develop to fit into, engage with, and create belonging to the environment in which they have taken up residence. Hardware resides in the unconscious; software mainly in the conscious.
As an Indian, my hardware had some transgenerational contaminations of which I was unaware and that surfaced during my time in Oxford. In my country, I am a successful individual, self assured and independent. My clientele are from various walks of life and different countries. Many international clients have shared with me that I was recommended to them as an independent ,progressive professional to whom they would be able to relate because I have travelled outside of India.
In Oxford, while I was training individuals from another country, I internally felt inadequate and nervous. Upon self reflection. I realized that my systemic trans-generational psychological position of “being not OK” was the force behind the feelings. I was in Oxford, considered to be the heartland of colonial politicians, and the buildings there reminded me of colonial history , which had an impact on my hardware. I am an Indian born much after independence, yet my hardware had the impact of pre independence days experienced by my forefathers.
I required the playful challenge, infusion of energy and support from individuals whose hardware is different from mine, for insight by which to deconstruct an aspect of my psychological framework. In my environment this opportunity most likely would not have risen, as although we Indians are diverse, specially in our software, our hardware is very similar.
In both CTA and PTSTA training journeys, at different developmental stages. I think needs such as these arise for most trainees. I think and believe that a trainer from a different environment with a different software, hardware and frame of reference will enrich the trainee’s experience and development. This is especially true given the changing world we live in where it is crucial that we are global and not parochial, so that we relate, engage and negotiate from a “we-ness” rather than “I-ness”.
I think multicultural , multi setting training with the objective of learning globally to encourage global thinking will benefit our trainees, trainers and clientele. With this purpose in mind the pilot group of trainees will be visiting Oxford to experience, observe and learn, both individually and collectively, in a setting diverse from theirs, and taking online tutorials from trainers of three nationalities (UK, Australia and India).
Will you like to explore your cultural wiring and include this tenet in your training? We are hoping trainees from other parts of the globe will join us to represent varied frames of reference and thus broaden and deepen the experience for all of us.