Article Text

other Versions

Using transactional analysis to improve clinical and educational supervision: the Drama and Winner's triangles
  1. Judy McKimm1,2,3,
  2. Kirsty Forrest4
  1. 1Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Unitec, Auckland, New Zealand
  2. 2Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, Bedford, UK
  3. 3Medical School, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
  4. 4Yorkshire and Humber Deanery, Academic Unit of Anaesthesia, The General Infirmary at Leeds, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kirsty Forrest, Academic Unit of Anaesthesia, The General Infirmary at Leeds, Great George Street, Leeds LS1 3EX, UK; k.forrest{at}


The supervisor–trainee relationship is fundamental in ensuring the best continuing education for all trainees. One of the key skills of supervision is being able to communicate effectively; however, this is sometimes difficult. In this article we explore how two transactional analysis models, the Drama and Winner's triangles, can help supervisors work and communicate more effectively with trainees.

All supervisors will have had a ‘heartsink moment’ before meeting a known trainee. The models can be used to explain these situations and what exactly is happening to the communication. The models provide methods of breaking free from these frustrating encounters and moving on with the relationship with your trainee.

The models also help us understand the ways in which we can easily be pulled into games and offer insight into our own behaviours and relationships, not only with trainees, but also with patients, carers and colleagues. Real life scenarios are used throughout to explain the models.

  • Supervision
  • postgraduate medical education
  • transactional analysis
  • medical education & training

Statistics from


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.