Dr. Jeanne Robertson, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT
Dr. Jeanne is the Director of St. Paul's Center for Counseling & Education
"What's your Enneagram number?" Or maybe, “What’s your Sign?” When I first heard about the Enneagram years ago, I brushed it off as some fad. I didn’t really know anything about it. It didn’t appear in the counseling literature. I just ASSUMED it was some New Age mumbo jumbo.
I COULDN’T HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG!
The Enneagram is a Personality Typing system that has been around for centuries and fine tuned and validated in the past few decades.* By learning about and using the Enneagram I’ve found the single most valuable tool I’ve ever had in my 30+ years of counseling. It’s a tool to help me understand myself and others better. It helps me recognize where to turn when I’m stressed, notice early warning signs when I’m overdoing it, or just plain “about to make a mess of everything.” I have all the pre-marital couples complete the test. They have ALL found it to be an incredible way to understand not only themselves better, but their relationship with one another much better.
"The Enneagram [is] the single most valuable tool I've ever had in my 30+ years of counseling."
So what is it exactly? The Enneagram is a comprehensive Personality Typing system based on the understanding that we all come into the world with one of 9 core personality Types, none of which is better or worse than any other. Each has a basic fear and desire and uses specific strategies and motivations to understand and interpret the world. We all have some characteristics of each of the 9 Types, but each of us is born with a core Type from which we interact and relate to our environment and ourselves. The test to discover your Type is not a psychological test or evaluation. Those instruments look for psychological health or pathology. Psychological health or pathology can occur within each Type; the test only indicates our Type, not how healthy or unhealthy we are. Knowing our Type can help us evaluate how healthy or unhealthy we are and point to ways to grow.
As we move though childhood to adulthood, our Personality becomes more fully formed. It is based on our core Type, but our life experience and which characteristics we employed most or least in our attempt to cope with and understand life, influence our levels of health, growth and development. If you have known twins who look identical, because they genetically are, yet find them to be very different people, it’s because they don’t have the same Enneagram Type. As they stood side by side when mommy said to pick up the toys, perhaps one complied and began the task, while the other simply kept playing. Why? It’s likely they simply aren’t the same Type. Those of us with the same Type are similar in core ways, but can be incredibly different and individual. The beauty of this tool is how it can help us discover more about ourselves and others.
"The beauty of [the Enneagram] is how it can help us discover more about ourselves and others."
What have those I’ve asked to take the Enneagram test said after taking it? “I feel validated!” “Now I understand why I’ve always done things the way I have.” “It was spot on.” “Wow! That is really me.” “It makes me feel understood.” “Now I know there are a lot of other people who see things the way I do, and now I sort of see why others don’t see things my way.” “My anxiety makes more sense and now maybe I can start to contol it instead of it controlling me.”
The Enneagram is not a blueprint; it’s a tool, a wonderful resource for personal and spiritul growth. The test I ask people to take is the RHETI which you can find here. The cost is $12. Scholarships are available through the church. If you would like one, contact Fr. Rob.
Recommended reading: The Sacred Ennegram by Christopher L Heuertz. There is a companion workbook. The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Riso and Hudson is also a comprehensive guide to the Enneagram.
If you take the test and wish to come discuss the results, it would be a pleasure to see you. I love working with the most helpful tool I’ve ever found.
*An article in The American Journal of Psychiatry Resident’s Journal, March 2020, The Enneagram: A Primer for Psychiatry Residents gives an excellent description of the Enneagram. It also cites research and references.
Contact Dr. Jeanne and learn more about the Center for Counseling & Education here.