The Enneagram

The Enneagram is essentially a geometric figure that delineates the nine basic personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships. There are in addition, many subtypes and variations within the nine basic styles, or ‘Types’. The Enneagram is a symbol that maps out the ways in which the nine types are related to each other. It offers a framework for understanding ourselves, and those with whom we interact. As a psychospiritual typology, the Enneagram helps us to recognize and understand an overall pattern in human behavior.

Behaviors, underlying attitudes, one’s self concept, conscious and unconscious motivations, emotional reactions, what we pay attention to, and much more—are all parts of a complex pattern that forms each personality type.

As you think about your personality, which of the following nine roles fits you best, most of the time? Or, to put it differently, if you were to describe yourself in a few words, which of the following word clusters would come closest?

These one-word descriptors can be expanded into four-word sets of traits. Keep in mind that these are merely highlights and do not represent the full spectrum of each type.


Type 1 is principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic.

Type 2 is generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, and possessive.

Type 3 is adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.

Type 4 is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.

Type 5 is perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.

Type 6 is engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.

Type 7 is spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, and scattered.

Type 8 is self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational.

Type 9 is receptive, reassuring, complacent, and resigned.


As you can see, the Ennegram highlights our strengths, but also draws attention to areas of needed growth: It doesn’t sugar coat!

The Enneagram is very useful for self-understanding and personal growth, and is uniquely suited to couples work.  By understanding each other’s personality type, couples can increase their understanding of each other’s unique worldview, as well as similarities and differences in how they process information and interactions.  This enhanced understanding can help to de-personalize difficult, or conflictual interaction patterns, and inform new ways of communicating with understanding and compassion.


Adapted & modified from the official website of the Enneagram Institute.  For more information about the Enneagram, visit:





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