Reducing teacher stress and burnout in high-risk secondary schools in South Africa using transactional analysis

Sharon Mary Johnson


One of a number of articles arising from PhD research, this paper focuses on the results of applying transactional analysis as one of three approaches to reducing stress and burnout for teachers in high-risk secondary schools in the gangland areas of the Cape Flats, Western Cape, South Africa. The other approaches were Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) and Transpersonal Psychology (TP), and related articles on these and on the quantitative statistical analysis elements of this research are being disseminated elsewhere.

A total of 43 teachers in three different schools took part in one intervention held weekly over 10 weeks for one and a half hours (15 hours in total) at their school as part of staff development, with a control group of 20 teachers at a fourth school. Qualitative TA intervention questionnaire coding analysis and focus group post-intervention thematic analysis of the mixed-methods study are presented. Coding analysis focused on the intra- and inter-individual tools that impacted teachers, and it was found that TA generated self-awareness, self-help tools and a strong group connection. Thematic analysis gave insights into the physical, emotional and cognitive responses to stress and burnout interventions on the individual, interpersonal and organisational levels and revealed new perspectives on classroom competency, with teachers taking more responsibility for discipline in the classroom.

The study gave insights into the well-being and coping of educators who survive in these challenging contexts, and it is proposed that TRE, TP and TA approaches can be incorporated, and possibly combined, into integrative and eclectic ways of dealing with complex psychological challenges of stress and burnout reduction in traumatic environments.

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International Journal of Transactional Analysis Research        ISSN 2218-3159