what is the enneagram?

 A Framework for Growth

What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a psycho-spiritual framework for adult development. 

It helps us to understand and navigate the territory of our inner world. 

And it guides each person how to do inner work in a way that most benefits them. 

How does the Enneagram do that?

The Enneagram guides our inner work by:

  1. Describing psychological patterns that are blindspots so we can observe them in action
  2. Providing tools that can deconstruct the ego’s many defences
  3. Describing what each pattern looks like once deep inner work is underway
  4. Outlines universal laws and practices for healing and development   

The Enneagram shows us what we are not

The Enneagram shows us what we are not, and provides the information and tools to release our ego’s defences and step into grounded confidence.

In grounded confidence we have crystallised within ourselves. Less at the mercy of the world around us or from the defences within us. 

Here we make decisions aligned with the life we want to create for ourselves. 

Do I have to change who I am?


Inner work, nor the Enneagram, don’t require you to change who you are.

Because you are amazing. 

It is about changing how you respond to life, so you, and people around you, can get to know the real you.

With growth, you aren’ unconsciously driven to manage the people and environment around you. 

The Nine Enneagram Types in Growth

On a growth path, we expand beyond our automatic approach to life.
Here is an example of what each type looks like when deep inner work is underway.

Type Eight

Balancing their confidence and decisiveness with becoming aware of the impact they have on others and being sensitive to others’ experience.

Type Nine

Balancing their diplomacy and friendliness with being connected to their own inner energy and feeling motived by their inner wisdom.

Type One

Balancing their integrity, ethics and responsibility with being creative, expressive, spontaneous and relaxed.

Type Two

Balancing their service to others with accepting their own feelings and needs, and clearly asking for what they want.

Type Three

Balancing their efficiency and striving with becoming more grounded in who they are and how they feel.

Type Four

Balancing their emotional intuition and depth of feeling with being grateful for what they already have.

Type Five

Balancing their observation and analysis with connecting with others and stepping into the power of their physical body.

Type Six

Balancing their preparedness and troubleshooting with seeing what’s working and feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Type Seven

Balancing their optimism and imagination with focusing on one thing at a time and opening their heart to all emotions that arise.

Enneagram FAQ

Absolutely. However, the Enneagram can help us to see our blindspots and habitual patterns more quickly than we could working without this framework.

Every model of personality can help us to know ourselves better.

However the Enneagram is the main model that helps us see the mask we are wearing and how we are not our personality. 

The only way to determine your type is through self-observation and reflection. 

You are the only person inside your inner world and only you can observe how you react internally. 

Friends, family and colleague are often well-placed to comment on our external reactions, but they can’t say why you react the way you do. 

That said, to help you narrow down which type you might be, I recommend starting with a test and/or a book.

The tests I recommend are:

The books I recommend are:


Quite common.

There are many reasons for this:

  • Tests are only indicators of one’s type
  • Many types act the same way but for different reasons 
  • There are many superficial stereotypes on the internet

How we express our Enneagram type is a complex mix of factors. Including:

  • Our childhood experiences
  • Our caregivers types 
  • Our caregivers beliefs around emotional expression 
  • The culture we were raised in
  • Our interests
  • Trauma we’ve experienced (to name a few: divorce, falls, medical procedures, natural disasters, complex PTSD, all forms of abuse, micro-aggressions, intergenerational)

Which is why when we work with the Enneagram is it useful to:

  • Be okay with it taking time to determine your type
  • Be open to observing yourself 
  • Seek professional assistance for any trauma you are aware of
  • Utilise more in-depth explanations of each type 
  • Explore the 27 subtypes for greater clarity 
  • Be open to “trying on” different subtypes as part of your exploration process

While universal, the nine Enneagram types don’t explain all the different deeper motivations that drive our habitat reactions and decisions. 

That’s where subtypes come in (and other layers of the Enneagram.)

There are currently several subtype theories, including, wings, triads, instincts and instinctual variants. 

Each model has its own approach. As I am focused on adult development I use the model that best supports growth and healing. 

And that is the 27 subtypes outlined by the Claudio Naranjo, and expanded on by the Narrative tradition, Beatrice Chestnut and others. 

To learn more about this model and the 27 subtypes, listen to my podcast about it here or read more here.