A bunch of students were heading on a long hike and came to a town called Bala, where they decided to rest. That evening being Wednesday, some of the students went to therapy. Those who had manuals took them out and began to discuss their life-scripts, but one student had only a deck of cards and began to lay them out. The therapist saw this and, having issues with being perfect, was cross, and said “Put away those cards and come and see me in the morning” and threw the student out of the group.
When the student returned in the morning, the therapist and his supervisor were there. “Why have you brought this student here?” said the supervisor.
“For playing cards in therapy”, said the therapist.
“I hope you have a good explanation” said the supervisor.
“I do”, said the student. “It’s like this …” and he began:
‘I have been on a long trip and during that time I have had neither my training manual, my copy of TA Theory, nor my notes from Eric Berne’s lecture series. But I have had a deck of cards which has helped me to get through the difficult times.
When I see the Ace, I remember that I’m OK. I knew that anyway.
When I see the two, I remember that every transaction takes place between two people and that there are two roles in counselling, therapist and client, and I know which one I want to be.
When I see the three, I remember the three ego-states, Parent, Adult and Child. And all the sub-states which are quite a lot more. I like the Little Professor most.
When I see the four, I think of the four life-positions in the OK Corral.
When I see the five, I think of the five drivers “be strong”, “try hard”, “please me”, “hurry up”, and “be perfect”. and the five schools of TA. Except that there are now six drivers.
When I see the six, I think of the six patterns of personality adoption identified by Stewart and Joines and the six types of social behaviour – withdrawal, ritual, activity, pastime, games, and intimacy.
When I see the seven, I remember the seven elements that make up a script and the age up to which parents give us general injunctions.
When I see the eight, I think of the eight therapeutic techniques; four are interventions and four are interpositions.
When I see the nine, I think of the nine types of complementary transaction. And some have ulterior ones.
When I see the ten, I think of the ten modes in the OK Modes Model, four effective and six ineffective. (Nancy Porter)
When I see the Jack, or Knave, I remember that I am a prince but I have been turned into a frog.
When I see the Queen, I think of my mother who as controlling parent did this by teaching me the five restrictive rules of stroking.
When I see the King, I think of Eric Berne, who developed his own theory of therapy when his application to the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute was turned down, and I wonder what his drivers were.
There are 52 cards in a deck, the number of countries which had TA Associations in 1992, so it must be true.
There are 12 picture cards, the number of script injunctions.
There are 4 suits, the number of categories of goals.
There are 13 cards in a suit, the number of people in a group session, counting the therapist.
If I add up the spots on the cards, I get 365, the number of hours it would take to learn all the theory of TA, and nearly as many as the number of games.
So you see my deck of cards is as useful for therapy and counselling as all the TA Journals and text-books put together.’
And the therapist now had enough stamps for a racket so threw him out, so the student with his awareness of himself and of phoniness went on to be a successful gestalt therapist.