Richard Gordon Erskine

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Richard Gordon Erskine
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Born (1941-12-07) December 7, 1941 (age 81)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • Bachelor of Education degree
  • Masters Degree in Educational Psychology
  • Ph.D. degree in Emotional and Cognitive Development
Alma mater
  • University of Chicago
  • Roosevelt University
  • Purdue University
OrganizationIIPA, Deusto University (Bilbao, Spain), American Group Psychotherapy Association, EATA, ITAA
Known forOriginating and refining the theories and methods of Integrative Psychotherapy, Developmentally-based and Relationally-focused
  • Eric Berne Scientific Award (1982, ITAA)
  • Eric Berne Memorial Award (1998, ITAA)
  • Eric Berne Memorial Award (2018, ITAA)
  • Gold Medal Award (2015, ITAA)

Richard Gordon Erskine, born on December 7, 1941 (Chicago), is a clinical psychologist who has originated and refined the theories and methods Developmentally-based, Relationally-focused Integrative Psychotherapy. He is a Certified Clinical Transactional Analyst (trainer and supervisor) whose writings and international teaching have helped advance the theory and methods of Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis and Licensed Psychoanalyst associated with the Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis and the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity.


Richard Gordon Erskine was born on December 7, 1941, and grew up in Chicago where he attended St. Stephens Grammar School, Jones High School, and the University of Chicago’s Reading Program He earned a Bachelor of Education degree in 1964 from Chicago Teachers College, a Masters Degree in Educational Psychology from Roosevelt University (1967), and a Ph.D. degree in Emotional and Cognitive Development from Purdue University (1972). Richard credits his mother’s capacity for understanding and compassion as the two most important influences in how he practices and teaches psychotherapy.

He began his professional career in 1964 as an elementary school special education teacher on the Southside of Chicago, specializing in working with “emotionally disturbed and socially maladjusted” children. As a psychotherapist, he has specialized in the treatment of severely disturbed children; ran a psychotherapy program for physically and sexually abused adolescent girls; and established a therapeutic community in a maximum-security prison.

He originally trained in Carl Rogers’s Client-Centered therapy and specialized in child play therapy. He is one of the first generations of Gestalt Therapists trained by both Fritz Perls and Laura Perls with additional training and supervision from both Isadore From and Joseph Zinker. His involvement with the American Group Psychotherapy Association led to his becoming a Certified Group Psychotherapist.

In a series of lectures in 1972, while he was a professor at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), Erskine gave the original series of lecturers that formulated the concepts of a Developmentally-based, Relationally-focused Integrative Psychotherapy.

Has served as a professor at the University of Illinois (1972-1976), Purdue University (1969-1972) and Chicago City College (1967-1969) From 1976 to 2011 Dr. Erskine served as the Training Director of the Institute for Integrative Psychotherapy in New York City and conducted his psychotherapy practice specializing in the treatment of dissociation, narcissism, obsession, and the schizoid processes.

Richard Erskine has served on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Psychotherapy, the Transactional Analysis Journal, and the International Journal of Integrative Psychotherapy.

He also has served as president of the International Integrative Psychotherapy Association (IIPA) from 2001 to 2011 and since that time he has continued to serve on the IIPA’s Board of Trustees. The various activities and conference announcements of the International Integrative Psychotherapy Association may be found on the website

Erskine has authored several professional journal articles and edited two books that have stimulated other authors to publish articles expressing both agreement and disagreement with what he has written: The British Gestalt Journal; Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy; International Journal of Integrative Psychotherapy; Transactional Analysis Journal.

He has hosted several round table discussions at professional conferences with a variety of colleagues to compare and contrast viewpoints on the theory and practice of psychotherapy on such topics as: “ego and ego states”: “transference and countertransference”; “psychotherapy of shame”; “psychotherapy of the Schizoid Process”.

In a 1999 speech at the World Congress for Psychotherapy, he gave a keynote speech entitled The Psychotherapist’s Myths, Dreams and Realities that challenged Sigmund Freud’s theory of the Oedipus Complex by offering a contemporary relational theory of parental neglect and its devastating effect on children. This speech was published by the International Journal of Psychotherapy entitled “The Psychotherapist’s Myths, Dreams and Realities” (2001,6:2,133-140)[1].

In response to an article entitled "Beyond Empathy: Attunement and Presence” published in Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy[2] he was invited in 2012 to give the keynote address at the American Academy of Psychotherapists 57th Annual Institute and Conference entitled “Beyond Empathy: A Therapy of Contact in Relationship”. This speech stimulated a debate on the use of empathy, attunement, self-disclosure, and confrontation in psychotherapy.

At the 2013 International Integrative Psychotherapy Association Conference in Belton Woods, UK he gave the keynote speech entitled "Vulnerability, Authenticity, and Intersubjective Contact: Philosophical Principles of Integrative Psychotherapy" that defined and established the philosophical assumptions and ethical stance of the International Integrative Psychotherapy Association. This speech was published in the International Journal of Integrative Psychotherapy with the title “Vulnerability, Authenticity, and Inter-subjective Contact: Philosophical Principles of Integrative Psychotherapy”[3].

Richard Erskine is currently Professor of Psychology and Education, Deusto University, Bilbao, Spain. He serves on the faculty of Instituto Bios de Psicoterapia Integrativa, Bilbao, Spain, and is a visiting trainer at several psychotherapy training institutes.

Integrative psychotherapy theory

Richard Erskine has established the significance of Integrative Psychotherapy in three principal domains:

  • the importance of the client’s internal integration of affect, cognition, and physiology so that behavior is by choice in the current context;
  • an emphasis on the centrality of the psychotherapist creating a validating and normalizing relationship that responds to the client’s relational-needs; and,
  • the significance of a child developmental perspective in psychotherapy.

Integrative Psychotherapy is defined as embracing an attitude towards the practice of psychotherapy that affirms the inherent value of each individual. Integrative Psychotherapy is a unifying therapeutic approach that responds appropriately and effectively to the person at the affective, behavioral, cognitive, and physiological levels of functioning, addressing as well the spiritual dimension of life. Each of these aspects is viewed as being within a relational system.

In 1988 Erskine wrote that the term "integrative" of Integrative Psychotherapy has a number of meanings. It refers to the process of integrating the personality: taking disowned, unaware, or unresolved aspects of the self and making them part of a cohesive personality. The therapeutic practice of Integrative Psychotherapy also includes helping the client to reduce the use of self-protective childhood strategies that inhibit spontaneity and limit flexibility in problem-solving, health maintenance, and relating to others. The relevance that Erskine gives to spontaneity for the healing process in the field of psychology, has been widely endorsed from the theory by the approaches of Moreno (1972)[4], Perls (1975) and Berne (1992)

In his 2015 book, Relational Patterns, Therapeutic Presence, Erskine described the focus of a relationally-focused Integrative Psychotherapy as facilitating the client’s capacity to engage with full interpersonal contact. It is the process of making whole. Through integration, it becomes possible for people to face each moment of life openly and freshly without the protection of a pre-formed opinion, position, attitude, or expectation.

Integrative Psychotherapy also refers to the bringing together of the affective, cognitive, behavioral, and physiological systems within a person, with an awareness of the social and transpersonal aspects of the systems surrounding the person. These concepts are utilized within a perspective of human development in which each phase of life presents heightened developmental tasks, need sensitivities, crises, and opportunities for new learning.

Integrative Psychotherapy takes into account many views of human functioning. The psychodynamic, client-centered, behaviourist, cognitive, family therapy, Gestalt therapy, body-psychotherapies, object relations theories, psychoanalytic self-psychology, attachment theory, and transactional analysis approaches are all considered within a dynamic systems perspective with a constant emphasis on relationships. Each provides a partial explanation of behavior and each is enhanced when selectively integrated with other aspects of the therapist's approach. The central concept unifying each of these therapeutic perspectives is the significance of interpersonal connection, at each developmental stage, from birth throughout the duration of life.

The psychotherapy interventions used in Integrative Psychotherapy are based on child developmental research and theories describing the self-protective strategies used when there are interruptions in normal development. The aim of 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.


The relational needs model pioneered by Richard Erskine (Erskine & Trautmann, 1996; Erskine, Moursund & Trautman, 1999; Moursund & Erskine, 2004; Erskine, 2015) is widely recognized among practitioners involved in Integrative Psychotherapy and Transactional Analysis (Behr, Aich & Scheurenbrand, 2020)[5]. Based on his long experience as a psychotherapist, Erskine identified eight essential relational needs for development, which are present throughout the entire life cycle (Rajabi & Nikpoor, 2018)[6].

The possibility of empirically evaluating the dimensions developed by Erskine has led in recent years to the promotion of various research projects by academics from different universities (Slovenia, Croatia, Spain and Turkey), aimed at validating a Relational Needs Scale (RNSS), inspired by his model, the results of which can be seen in the recently published works of a twenty-item version measuring five of the eight dimensions proposed by Erskine (Zvelc, Jovanoska y Zvelc, 2020[7]; Martina Pourová, Tomáš Řiháček & Žvelc, 2020[8])


In 1982, along with coauthor Marlyn Zalcman, Richard received from International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA) the Eric Berne Scientific Award for developing the theory of Racket Analysis.

In 1998, along with coauthor Rebecca Trautmann, he received from International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA) the Eric Berne Memorial Award in Transactional Analysis for a series of nine articles that provide a “comparison and integration of Transactional Analysis with other theories and approaches”.

He is also a recipient of the 2014 Gold Medal Award from the International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA) for his contribution to the development of transactional analysis in Europe.

In 2018 Richard received from International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA) the Eric Berne Memorial Award for his three publications on “Unconscious Experience, Attachment Patterns, and Neuropsychological Research in the Psychotherapy of Life Scripts”.


  • Erskine, R.G. (1998). Theories and Methods of an Integrative Transactional Analysis: A Volume of Selected Articles. San Francisco: TA Press. ISBN: 978-0894890048
  • Erskine, R.G., Moursund, J.P. y Trautmann R.L. (1999). Beyond Empathy: A Therapy of Contact-in-Relationship. New York: Brunner/Mazel. ISBN: 978-0876309636
  • Erskine, Trautmann y Moursund (2012). Más allá de la empatía: Una terapia de Contacto-en-la-Relación. Bilbao: Desclée de Brower (Serendipity). ISBN: 978-8433025722
  • Erskine, R. G. (2015). Relational Patterns, Therapeutic Presence: Concepts and Practice of Integrative Psychotherapy. London: Karnac Books. ISBN: 978-1782201908
  • Erskine, R. G. (2016) Presencia Terapéutica y Patrones Relacionales: Conceptos y Práctica de la Psicoterapia Integrativa. Londres: Karnac Books. ISBN: 978-1910444092
  • Moursund, J.P. y Erskine, R.G. (2003). Integrative Psychotherapy: The Art and Science of Relationship. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning. ISBN: 978-0534513559
  • Moursund, J. P. y Erskine, R. G. (2011). Integrative Psychotherapy in Action. London: Karnac Books. (Originally published by Sage Publications, 1988; The Gestalt Journal Press, 1998). ISBN: 978-1855758308
  • Moursund, J.P. y Erskine, R.G (2014). La Psicoterapia Integrativa en Acción. Bilbao: Desclée de Brower. ISBN: 978-8433026842
  • Erskine, R. G. (2020). A Healing Relationship: Commentary on Therapeutic Dialogues. London: Phoenix Publishing. ISBN: 9781912691753

Edited books

  • Erskine, R. G., Ed. (2010). Life Scripts: A Transactional Analysis of Unconscious Relational Patterns. London: Karnac Books.
  • Erskine, R. G., Ed. (2016). Transactional Analysis in Contemporary Psychotherapy. London: Karnac Books.


  • Erskine, R. G. y Trautmann, R. L. (1996). Methods of an integrative psychotherapy. Transactional Analysis Journal, 26,4.
  • Erskine, R. G. (2007). Beyond Empathy: Attunement and Presence. Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy, 43, 7-12.
  • Erskine, R. G. (2008). Psychotherapy of Unconscious Experience. Transactional Analysis Journal, 38, 128-138.
  • Erskine, R. G. (2009). Life Scripts and Attachment Patterns: Theoretical Integration and Therapeutic Involvement. Transactional Analysis Journal, 39, 207-218.
  • Erskine, R. G. (2010). Integrating Expressive Methods in a Relational-Psychotherapy. International Journal of Integrative Psychotherapy, 1:55-80.
  • Erskine, R. G. (2014). The Truth Shall Set You Free: Saying an Honest “Goodbye” Before a Loved-one’s Death. International Journal of Psychotherapy, 18, 72-79.
  • Erskine, R. G. (2019). Child Development in Integrative Psychotherapy: Erik Erikson’s First Three Stages. International Journal of Integrative Psychotherapy, 10,11-34.
  • Erskine, R. G. (2019). Relational Group Process: Developments in a Transactional Analysis Model of Group Psychotherapy. International Journal of Psychotherapy, 23, 41-60.
  • Erskine, R. G. (2019). Developmentally Based, Relationally Focused Integrative Psychotherapy: Eight Essential Points. International Journal of Integrative Psychotherapy, 10, 1-10.


  1. Erskine, Richard G. (2011). "The Psychotherapist's Myths, Dreams and Realities". International Journal of Psychotherapy. XXI (85): 5-16.
  2. Erskine, R (2007). "Beyond Empathy: Attunement and Presence". Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy. 43: 7-12.
  3. Erskine, Richard G. (2013). "Vulnerability, Authenticity, and Inter-subjective Contact: Philosophical Principles of Integrative Psychotherapy". International Journal of Psychotherapy. 4 (2): 1-9.
  4. Moreno, J (1972). El psicodrama. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Hormé.
  5. Michael Behr, Gernot Aich & Claudia Scheurenbrand (2020). "Person-centered and experiential psychotherapy and transactional analysis – contributions of two humanistic approaches to challenging or confounded counselling situations". Journal Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies.
  6. Rajabi, S & Nikpoor, N (2018). "Comparison of the effectiveness of the transactional analysis training and emotion regulation on the improvement of love trauma syndrome: Dealing with the problems caused by the separation and love break up" (PDF). Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. 4: 17-28.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. Žvelc G, Jovanoska K and Žvelc M (2020). "Development and Validation of the Relational Needs Satisfaction Scale". Frontiers in Psychology. 11. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00901.
  8. Martina Pourová, Tomáš Řiháček & Gregor Žvelc. "Validation of the Czech Version of the Relational Needs Satisfaction Scale". Frontiers in Psychology. 11. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00359.

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