Don’t Fence Me In: An Answer to an Objection about Personality Typing

Many people object to being pigeonholed into a personality type. But if you’re in psychotherapy, it would be nice if your therapist had an understanding of your type. Here’s an example of why:

Betty’s dominant Enneagram perspective is Two, a helper. She’s the kind of mother whose children followed her into the bathroom. But now they’re getting older, and she thinks they should be less dependent.

Betty is overwhelmed and unhappy. She wishes her husband would show more appreciation for all she does. He actually wishes she would do a little less for him (get off his back, in other words).

Her therapist tells Betty she needs to stop thinking about herself so much. “Go work at a soup kitchen,” he says. “Go help others.”

So the answer to too much helping is to go help some more people?

Betty has a better idea. Her boss has told her that she could do her job better and get a promotion if she would take some accounting courses. So she signs up at the local college. This choice will help her exercise her independence and yet avoid going against the grain of her native Two-ness.

Hers is a growth solution, while her therapist’s was unwittingly designed to keep her stuck in old patterns.

Maybe the truth is that her male therapist was pigeonholing Betty: as a typical whiney woman. Better to be typed than stereotyped.

About Jean Adeler

Jean Adeler, Ph.D., is the originator of the Structural Enneagram.
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