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Applying The Enneagram As A Coaching Tool

AUTHOR: Marilyn Atkinson
DATE: 12 January 2018

As coaches, we listen powerfully to the way our clients speak about themselves and their lives; their unique way of reacting to life.

Just as in Module IV, where students learn to identify their client's metaprograms, the Enneagram is a powerful tool that gives you the opportunity to become an even more dynamic coach by learning how your clients organize their internal dialogue. In what ways is it keeping them trapped in habits that hinder them from allowing real joy and happiness?

What is the Enneagram?


In form, it is an ancient typology based upon a nine-point star (from the Greek: ennea - nine, grammos - points) organized within a circle and main triangle. It signifies the key ‘body of habits’ that people tend to take on to build their basic life-organization principles.

The Enneagram is a powerful guide to self-awareness and evolution, providing it is not used as an instrument of judgment and self-righteousness. Combining its study with Solution-Focused coaching empowers our abilities, especially in terms of personal evolution. Erickson's course The Light of the Enneagram is so named because understanding the Enneagram allows you to lighten your load and lighten your life. We open the door to deep understanding.

A Self-Discovery Tool

The Enneagram provides a journey of discovery for self-enlightenment and self-acceptance. Each of us possesses a basic driving force, a preferred set of strategies, a unique set of strengths and talents of which we may well be proud. We each look at the world and our time in our own special way. We are, as individuals, drawn in certain directions. These preferences can also ‘harden’ into habit systems that strangle our growth.

Sometimes, when people first discover which type they are, they say “Perhaps I would prefer to change to another type”. This indicates that they are judging one type to be better than another. The key to using The Enneagram is exploration without judgment. What if each pattern provided a huge reservoir of ‘talent’, each as valuable as the next? You are maturing and growing, and there is no limit to the possibilities of your potential, no matter your type.

All evidence indicates that no one type is better than another. Within each type, there are levels of generativity and maturity. We might describe a sliding scale from highly generative and creative at 9 out of 10 – where we are strongly evolving and developing – down to non-generative and reactive with few choices at 1. Also, our level of maturity can vary in different contexts. Our flexibility and generativity, (or not), is simply a message about our next step in this process.

Each Enneagram type is a deep habit. It is a theme that for most individuals remains constant throughout their life, while the possibilities for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual evolution are limitless. The type itself is a fundamental form of basic human habits. With coaching skills and technology we can use the information gained from this knowledge of types to evolve our own patterns more effectively, and to mature in them and make them more flexible. We want more effective choices than the old, rigid patterns.

Value for Clients

By identifying our client’s specific personality traits, we can then ask those expansive, powerful questions that allow them to become aware of and move away from the habits that are holding back their true joy. They start to speak differently about themselves, building new habits, moving them in the direction of their most desired life.

As a Coach, you can expand your own resources. You deepen your knowledge of people’s personal development. You have something even more to offer potential and existing clients.

The Enneagram allows you to discover what is holding you back in life, in work, and in your relationships. Moving through the Light of the Enneagram will enable you to identify your own limiting beliefs. Now build new habits and expand your own being, and this is the person you now get to bring to your clients. We hold a space for our clients to explore and create their most satisfying existence. The Light of the Enneagram is an opportunity to do the same for your life.

Are you interested in adding The Enneagram to your coaching tools? 

The Light of the Enneagram is an interactive and experiential four-day workshop. Exploration of the Enneagram offers very powerful insights into the fundamental behavioural beliefs, or metaprograms, that operate at the “programming language” level of the psyche. You will have the opportunity to “try on” different Enneagram patterns, explore hidden limiting beliefs, and develop the awareness to choose balanced, accepting, and constructive actions and responses.

"The Light of the Enneagram has given me a better understanding of the 9 types of people and how we can step into each one and experience them. This course has given me the opportunity to reflect on my own personality along with my family and friends to have a better understanding of where they are coming from and to speak their language. As a coach, this has broadened my reach and given me useful tools for communication, understanding relationships, and powerful self-awareness. I would recommend this course to coaches looking to expand not only their horizons but those of their clients."
- Susan Hogarth, PCC, ECPC, MNLP