What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a personality model that is rooted in psychology and spirituality. Personality is the way that a person thinks, feels, and behaves. I like to think of personality as a coping style that we use to maneuver through life’s ‘ups and downs’. The Enneagram helps us understand how our personality patterns serve and strengthen us. It also helps us understand what hinders us and how we get in our own way.

How do you use the Enneagram in therapy?

We all have challenges and obstacles that get in the way of leading our best life. The Enneagram helps us understand our own unique obstacles. It’s a tool for self-growth and self-inquiry. Each Enneagram type describes a pathway towards reaching their healthiest self. I like to think of the Enneagram as a kind of guidebook or map along this pathway. One of the things I love about this system is that each personality has a distinct set of behavioral, thinking, and emotional patterns that they must challenge to find deeper happiness and connection. In therapy, I will help you understand your individual path of growth based on your personality type. I can assist you in finding your specific type if it is unclear to you. We will also use the Enneagram to explore your special gifts and strengths that make your personality unique.

There are 9 basic personality types. Don’t worry if you don’t fit exactly into one of these boxes. There is A LOT of variation within each type.

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Body/Instinctual Triad

Type 9: The Mediator
Type 8: The Challenger
Type 1: The Reformer

These folks are centered in their bodies. Anger is the core emotion. Each type in the body triad has a strong relationship with anger. 9’s avoid anger or attempt to numb it. 8’s project it outwards through externalizing. 1’s internalize it.

Heart/Feeling Triad

Type 3: The Achiever
Type 2: The Giver
Type 4: The Individualist

These folks are centered in their feelings and emotional responses. Shame is the core emotion. Each type in the heart triad has a strong relationship with shame. 3’s avoid shame or attempt to numb it. 2’s externalize it or project it outwards. 4’s internalize shame.

Head/Thinking Triad

Type 6: The Loyalist
Type 7: The Enthusiast
Type 5: The Investigator

These folks are centered in their heads and intellectual activity. The core emotion is fear. Each type in the head triad has a strong relationship with fear. 6’s avoid or numb the feeling of fear. 7’s externalize fear. 5’s internalize it.

How do I find my type?

I recommend reading about all 9 personalities and doing further research on the types that seem most like you. Keep in mind that the type description might not match you perfectly, so be sure to check out subtypes. Each of the nine personalities has three subtypes that are based on survival instincts. The instinct to self-preserve, the instinct to belong or have a role in a group, and the instinct to bond one-on-one. Subtypes a very important because two people who have the same basic personality type can look vastly different from one another if they have different subtypes. You can find type descriptions here:

Pay attention to your internal reaction when reading about each type. This could be valuable information for identifying your unique personality.

If you end up taking an online typing test, take the results with a giant grain of salt. The Enneagram is a dynamic and complex system. These tests do not account for vital aspects of personality including subtypes, energetics, movement, or wings. If you are unsure of your type but would like to use the Enneagram in therapy, I can help you narrow it down and offer additional information that will help you type yourself.

Putting the Enneagram to work

I love using the Enneagram in therapy. Whether you are new to the enneagram or feel well-versed in it, counseling work aligns beautifully with personality work. Feel free to contact me for a free, 15-minute phone consultation. This is primarily for us to get a sense of each other, and for you to ask any questions you might have about starting therapy.

How do I find out more about the Enneagram?

Great websites to visit:

Recommended Reading:

  • The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge by Beatrice Chestnut

  • The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types by Don Richard Riso & Russ Hudson

  • From Fixation to Freedom - The Enneagram of Liberation by Eli Jaxon-Bear