Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

by Portia Nelson

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


I walk down another street.



Types Of Therapy

Transactional Analysis

I use an approach called Transactional Analysis (TA) in my work  because it is recognised world-wide for its success in facilitating personal change.  TA is a theory of personality,  communication, and child development which provides a model to help us understand how people communicate, interact and develop patterns of behaviour and relationships. It helps us to understand how people interact and form habitual patterns, and can be used in the treatment of a wide range of problems. TA is a system which is appropriate for the treatment of a wide range of problems. One of the benefits of TA is that the concepts can be understood and used on many levels from simple pointers to complex analysis.

The core beliefs of  TA are that respect and empathy are a core feature of relationships, people are OK (even when behaviour is not OK sometimes), everyone has the capacity to think,  people can make changes, they can decide their own destiny, and these decisions can be changed. These beliefs are reflected in the therapeutic relationship. The client and therapist work together, taking equal responsibility for achieving agreed goals. Open communication is important in all aspects of the therapy process.

The aim of TA is personal growth and change.

TA Tools:  TA has a variety of tools and models which can help us to understand ourselves and others and can be understood on many levels.  This means that clients can learn and use some of these tools practically and appropriately when they want to do so at various stages of treatment. This is an important aspect of taking action and responsibility for their work towards health.  We can use these tools to observe and reflect on the way we communicate with people we are in relationship with. As we become aware of our patterns of behaviour, we can begin to understand how some past experiences influence our thoughts, feelings and behaviour in the present, sometimes in ways which are unhelpful or even destructive. For example, TA identifies three ego states, Parent, Adult and Child. An ego state is a consistent pattern of feeling, thinking and behaving. This provides us with a tool for looking at our life experiences, thoughts and feelings. We can use the ego state model to help us examine how we acquired our beliefs and values from our parents and other parental figures, and how being in different ego states affects our daily life.

Other types of psychotherapy:

While Transactional Analysis Counselling and Psychotherapy is my core modality, I practice integrative psychotherapy which combines elements of  other modalities including psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral (CBT), existential psychotherapy, mindfulness techniques and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Integrative Psychotherapy

Integrative Psychotherapy takes into account many views of human functioning. Psychodynamic, behaviorist, cognitive, and transactional analysis approaches all provide a partial explanation of behavior and each is enhanced when selectively integrated with other aspects of the therapist’s approach. The psychotherapy interventions used in Integrative Psychotherapy are based on developmental research and theories describing the self-protective defenses used when there are interruptions in normal development. The aim of an integrative psychotherapy is to facilitate wholeness such that the quality of the person’s being and functioning in the intrapsychic, interpersonal and sociopolitical space is maximized with due regard for each individual’s own personal limits and external constraints. 

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in a person’s present behavior. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are a client’s self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior. In its brief form, a psychodynamic approach enables the client to examine unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from past dysfunctional relationships and manifest themselves in the need and desire to abuse

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

CBT is a form of psychotherapy which combines behavioural and cognitive therapies. It aims to help people manage their problems by changing how they think and behave. It is a structured therapy, usually aimed at a specific problem and is usually time-limited. Cognitive therapy focuses on how thoughts can create feelings and moods, and how what you believe can keep problems going. Behavioural therapy helps you to overcome problems by changing your behaviour. CBT helps you to test unhelpful beliefs by talking about them and then developing ideas as to how to improve or change to more helpful patterns of behaviour.

Existential psychotherapy 

Existential Psychotherapyis a philosophical method of therapy that operates on the belief that inner conflict within a person is due to that individual’s confrontation with the givens of existence. These givens are: the inevitability of death, freedom and responsibility, isolation and meaninglessness. These ultimate concerns, form the body of existential psychotherapy and compose the framework in which a therapist conceptualizes a client’s problem in order to develop a method of treatment


Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives.  It will not eliminate life’s pressures, but it can help us respond to them in a calmer manner that benefits our heart, head, and body. It helps us recognise and step away from habitual, often unconscious emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events. It provides us with a scientifically researched approach to cultivating clarity, insight, and understanding. Practicing mindfulness allows us to be fully present in our life and work, and improve our quality of life.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

NLP is a model and set of techniques that allow you to achieve specific and desired outcomes. It has been described as the technology of the mind, the science of achievement and the study of success.


If you are interested in reading about Transactional Analysis, or the other therapies mentioned, please visit http://www.carolsolomonphd.com/web_pdfs/Transact.pdf . There is a wealth of excellent information and online resources available which you may find helpful.