Enneagram 5 Profile

I’ve seen firsthand how the Enneagram has influenced my therapy practice, my clients, and my own personal growth. In order to better understand its impact, I interviewed a representative of each number to see the world through their lens.

What do you love the most about your number?

I love that Fives value knowledge and solitude. Because of those two defining motivations, I find Fives have a natural tendency towards introspection and insight.

What is the hardest thing about your number?

The hardest thing is that the most natural reaction to stress is to disconnect from the world and retreat into the inner world. It is such a powerful need that it feels impossible to change at times. This makes relationships difficult.

How have you used the knowledge of your Enneagram number to grow toward your best self?

It has helped me understand that the desire to retreat can be both serve me and harm me. It helps me ask myself in the moment, "Is this serving me or am I trying to numb the stress?" It also helps me make sense of why I have difficulty knowing when to stop the research and start the project, because that is difficult for Fives in many cases. I also know that I can find solace in theory and trust that diving back into theories (specifically therapeutic theories) is how I can feel stabilized and begin to make sense of difficult situations.

How has the Enneagram been useful to you during the therapy process?

As a client, I struggle in experiential modalities because I'm often questioning myself. I interrupt my own experience to ask, "Am I doing it right? What is the point of this?” The need to do it "right" or be clear on the purpose is a habitual pattern of Fives and can consistently interrupt an experiential process. I know I can easily reject ideas or theories if I don't feel they're well explained or researched, and that I don't work well with a therapist who can't honor this Five tendency. For the Enneagram in general, I can better understand the point of view of the therapist if I have a sense of their type. That helps me understand their therapeutic process.

As a clinician and as a Five, it helps me personally rein in the need to over-explain and over-analyze. At the same time, I find that illustrating theory is helpful for many clients and I can always shift to this if I feel a client is overwhelmed with their own emotional experience. It can help change the way their brain is processing and give us common ground and common language.  

Understanding the client's Enneagram type is extraordinarily helpful as it helps us set more appropriate therapeutic goals. We can use the Enneagram to build language for what the client is experiencing and it can give us guidelines for what health looks like for them. One of the biggest struggles for many people is to put language to what they're experiencing in their lives and how they'd like for their life to look and feel differently. We can use the Enneagram to help each individual learn what they're motivated by, what their habitual patterns may be, and jump-start insight and awareness of self. I find that the Enneagram also helps clients learn self-compassion, because they've learned that these core personality tendencies have been shaped over a lifetime and are not simple to change. Enneagram knowledge is extraordinarily helpful in relationships and as clients learn about their key relationships, they are able to both set accurate boundaries and offer meaningful grace.

What advice would you give to other people of your same number?

Don't be discouraged by the descriptions of Fives. Fives are often depicted as cold, detached, and alone, but it is not always the case. Use the Enneagram knowledge to make sense of your desire for quiet and knowledge, and learn when that truly serves you versus when it is your hiding place from from the stress of living. Use the information to help you structure your days in a meaningful way that honors both social and individual needs. Understand that social engagements are often the last thing you want to do, and can be the absolute best thing for you!