The genesis of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ™ stems from my own experience of personally working with a psychotherapist years ago who introduced me to the Karpman Drama Triangle, which in The Power of TED* is referred to as the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™. 

Dr. Karpman was an early student of psychiatrist Eric Berne, the founder of Transactional Analysis (commonly referred to as TA).  One of Berne’s and TA’s central ideas is that of “ego states,” as described on the International Transactional Analysis Association website:

“Eric Berne made complex interpersonal transactions understandable when he recognized that the human personality is made up of three ‘ego states’. Each ego state is an entire system of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from which we interact with one another. The Parent, Adult and Child ego states and the interaction between them form the foundation of transactional analysis theory. These concepts have spread into many areas of therapy, education, and consulting as practiced today.”

The past few weeks, the basic model of the Parent, Child, Adult interactions has arisen in several coaching and training conversations.

The DDT (Karpman’s Drama Triangle) is made up of the three roles of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer in an often toxic set of interactions that almost always engage the Parent-Child interaction.  A Victim reacts from the Child ego state to the Persecutor-as-Parent.  When one intervenes as a Rescuer in the drama, it is also usually from the ego state of Parent, stepping in to fix or take care of the Victim.

TED* and its roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach serve as an antidote to the DDT.  The interactions that occur between these roles all access, and are based in, Adult-to-Adult ego states.  A Challenger, whose contribution is on being a catalyst for learning, sees those with whom they interact as a Creator in their own right. The Coach role offers support by seeing the other also as a Creator who is ultimately capable and resourceful.  A Challenger and a Coach approach their relationship with a Creator as an Adult ego state.

I am grateful to have learned about the Drama Triangle and the TA ego states as a way of understanding the patterns of interactions I had with others.  I am equally grateful for the birth of TED* as a way of understanding how to grow into more resourceful relationships with others that are Adult-to-Adult in nature.

(I had the privilege and pleasure of spending an afternoon with Dr. Stephen Karpman a couple of years ago. To see a video of part of our conversation, click here.)