Enneagram therapy is an exciting and innovative approach to personal development that can provide you with powerful insights into your psychological make-up, enabling you to identify your core strengths and weaknesses, gain greater self-awareness, and work through challenges more effectively. In therapy, it allows you to engage in growth beyond a psychiatric diagnosis.
The enneagram is a powerful tool for personal growth and development, and understanding it can help you deepen your understanding of yourself, others, relationships, and interactions. Unlike other personality typology systems, the enneagram is based on the core desire and core fear that informs your choices and behaviors throughout your life. These core fears and desires are deeply trauma-informed, which makes the enneagram an excellent framework to enhance therapy.
The enneagram is compatible with many therapy modalities, including trauma work. Examining our core fears and desires is part of cognitive behavioral work, part of psychodynamic work, part of family systems and couples work, and many more therapeutic frameworks. You can use the enneagram alongside a mental health diagnosis or independently, making it a versatile and strengths-oriented approach.
But first, what is the enneagram? The following is a brief summary of the nine enneagram types and what core desires and fears they may be exploring in therapy. We feel it’s best not to take any online tests, but to read about the types and see which resonate the loudest. The nine enneagram types are based on a set of nine interconnected personality traits. These consist of:
• Type 1 - The Reformer – Orderly, reliable, able to see the ideal version of everything around them and steps toward making it happen. In therapy, Ones might work on feelings of anger, self-criticism, black-and-white thinking, and deep worry that they are bad or corrupt.
• Type 2 - The Helper – People-oriented nurturers who love to be helpful and needed. In therapy, Twos might work on not diminishing their own needs and desires, fears they are not lovable, not creating relationships based on dependence, and preventing feelings of resentment that happen when they have been caretaking for too long without receiving.
• Type 3 - The Achiever – Highly driven by success and achievement in their goals, they can be charming and adaptable. In therapy, Threes might work on separating their achievements from their self-worth, developing a more authentic relationship to their own emotions and to others, allowing themselves to rest, and building intimacy.
• Type 4 - The Individualist – Self-aware, sensitive, and creative individuals who have a deeply individualistic approach to life and value being unique. In therapy, Fours might work on depression, feeling like an outcast, regulating emotions, unlearning beliefs that they are “too much”, and navigating a world that may operate with less sensitivity and attention to individualism than they do without compromising their values and identity.
• Type 5 - The Investigator – Inquisitive minds that are always questioning things and searching for answers. In therapy, Fives might work on integrating with others more, opening up to others in a way that feels safe, connecting to their emotional selves, ways to engage with the world beyond their expertise, and confronting their fear of scarcity.
• Type 6 - The Loyalist – Highly loyal individuals who value commitment in relationships with family or friends. In therapy, Sixes might work on deep and pervasive anxiety, concerns about society and the planet at large, issues with relationships, family, and work, and conflicting feelings about people in positions of authority.
• Type 7 - The Enthusiast – Adventurous people with an overflowing enthusiasm for life’s joys. In therapy, Sevens might work on identifying and tolerating uncomfortable emotions, combating feeling trapped by commitments and routine, and engaging in healthy coping rather than escapism and avoidance.
• Type 8 - The Challenger – Bold personalities who like to protect others, take risks and confront challenges and injustice head-on. In therapy, Eights might work on their fears of being controlled or manipulated, softening their approach to others that may not tolerate conflict or challenge as well as they do, bringing out their natural caregiving and protecting qualities, and tolerating the discomfort of being vulnerable in safe situations.
• Type 9 - The Peacemaker – Harmonious individuals who focus on promoting peace and harmony at all times. In therapy, Nines might focus on depression, identifying and honoring their own needs over others’, developing a solid sense of self, setting and maintaining boundaries while staying connected, and being more assertive and confident.
As you can see, the enneagram can be powerful in therapeutic settings as it allows both client and therapist to understand something deeper than what lies on the surface. The enneagram delves into your core values, beliefs and fears, which helps therapists develop a more effective treatment plan tailored specifically around you as an individual person rather than just trying a one-size-fits-all approach based on a DSM diagnosis. The enneagram is also trauma-informed, as our core fears and desires are shaped by our formative and often traumatic experiences. Your therapist can address your enneagram growth points alongside your trauma for maximum impact and healing.
If you're interested in integrating the enneagram into therapy, you can schedule a free consultation to see if one of our therapists is a good fit.
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Laurel Therapy Collective
offers online therapy to California residents for anxiety, transitions, and trauma.