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What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a system of nine basic personality types that can be used for personal and spiritual growth and change. Each personality type views the world from a different perspective, which affects the way each type thinks, feels, acts and interacts with others.  Identifying your Enneagram type and learning more about the lens from which you view the world is a powerful way to find compassion and understanding for yourself and others, strengthen relationships, and make postive changes.

How can the Enneagram help me?

The Enneagram offers each person the opportunity to know themselves more fully and understand what motivates their feelings, thoughts and actions at a deep inner level.  Each person's basic Enneagram type doesn’t change, but with awareness a person can become more flexible in how they encounter themselves and others. As one learns more about who they are and the motivation behind their personal patterns and habits, change can happen.  Defining and exploring your Enneagram type not only can help you learn about the innate strengths and weaknesses of your perspective on the world, but can also foster awareness of the ways others relate to the world.  This knowledge opens up possibilities to see the world through a different perspective, and to recognize that others are often viewing the world differently than you are.  With this understanding,  you can learn to approach others with self-awareness and empathy, fostering stronger relationships. 

The Nine Types

The word Ennegram comes from the Greek words ennea (nine) and grammos (a written symobol).  While it is not know where the symbol came from originally, there is evidence of the symbol being used to describe the nine “Dignities of God” by a Franciscan monk in the 14thcentury.  Each type is complex, with levels, wings and instincts that vary among individuals.  Following is a very basic description of each type.*

Type 1: Need to be correct in order to avoid criticism and/or punishment.  Very focused on being a good person and bringing things into order.  Tendency towards being overly critical, over-worked and resentful.

Type 2: Survival depends on the love and approval of significant others.  Being connected in relationship is the main focus/primary concern. Emphasis on what others need/helping the important cause/person.  This may lead to being over-extended, dependent, or manipulative.

Type 3: Focus on outstanding performance/being successful in other’s eyes.  Believe that love comes form achievement, image and status. Tendency to neglect/ignore personal needs of self and others.

Type 4:  Underlying theme is a feeling of loss, abandonment, and separation. Deficiency feels caused by some unknown tragic flaw in the self.  Seeks meaning and emotional depth to acquire what feels missing.  Needs to connect personally to everything; chronically disappointed. 

Type 5:  The world seems unpredictable, chaotic, threatening, and intrusive. Chief defense is observation from a distance/obtaining knowledge.  Withdraws to own private world; takes a detached, unaffected view.  Often has difficulty engaging with other people and/or the task. 

Type 6:  Two styles of 6’s: counter-phobic and phobic.  To avoid danger, the counter-phobic six deals with excess fear by going up against it while the phobic six gives into the fear. The world is a dangerous/scary place so safety is the main focus.  Uses perception and intellect as a way to understand the world. Scanning/assessing to determine if others are friendly or hostile.  May procrastinate/be chronically ambivalent.

Type 7:  Avoid pain and fear by escaping in to pleasure, fun and imagination. Reframes everything as positive to eliminate negativity and pain.  Always thinking ahead towards better possibilities and more enjoyment. Future orientation leads to difficulty with commitment/follow-through.

Type 8: Asserts control over self/environment; powerful, lives with “gusto”.  This strategy leads to excessive conflict and disrupted relationships. Comes from a core belief that it is unsafe to be weak and vulnerable.  Believes that without strength and control, others will take advantage. 

Type 9:  Forgets self, merges with others in order to gain love and belonging.  Avoids conflict in an effort to sidestep the pain of loss and separation.  Seeks harmony/balance; leads to a loss of personal boundaries/priorities.

*Descriptions are from the EnneaApp created by Elan BenAmi, MA, LPC and Lori Ohlson, MA, LPC.