The Enneagram as a Relationship Tool with Monica Leblanc, LPC, LCAS
Hello! I am so excited to share the work of my dear friend and colleague, Monica Leblanc. She is a skilled therapist and practitioner who incorporates the use of the Enneagram in her work with clients (and all of her relationships!). Do you know about the Enneagram as a tool for individual and relationship growth? If not, read on—it’s pretty amazing.
I have personally used the Enneagram in my relationship with my partner with incredible results. We learned so much about each other (and made sense of what we already knew) when we began to incorporate the wisdom of the Enneagram and use it as a tool to support our interactions and communication. The Enneagram has given me insight into my own patterns (I’m a type 2, by the way!) and supported me in staying in my integrity even when I’m feeling stressed by reminding me of how I can be my healthiest, most vibrant self. I highly recommend adding this tool to your relationship toolbox!
If you don’t know your type and you want some basic information, I highly recommend the Enneagram Insitute’s website. As you will hear from Monica, learning your type will give you some basic information AND you will just begin scratching the surface with this model. There is so much to learn!
I had the opportunity to ask Monica some questions about her experience with the Enneagram as well as learn about resources and opportunities for healing. Monica and her business partner Hanna provide a wealth of information, and I encourage you to connect with them to continue your learning!
Please tell us about you! What do you do? How did you come across the Enneagram?
I am a therapist in private practice in Asheville, NC. I work with adults and couples who struggle with saying yes to themselves and saying no to everything else. I use a combination of experiential modalities, somatic techniques, and the Enneagram. I was introduced to the Enneagram by my best friend and now business partner, Hanna Woody. She and I started teaching workshops together about 5 years ago. We get a lot of feedback from folks about our dynamic being entertaining and fun to watch. I love that we get to work and grow together using the Enneagram.
So tell us: what IS the Enneagram?
The Enneagram is the world’s oldest spiritual and psychological growth model. It is based on a nine-sided figure that has been found in prehistoric caves. The history of it is very mystical and there is a lot of unknown. Only very recently (the 1970s) has there been written word published about it.
How is the Enneagram different from other tools in supporting relationships?
The Enneagram does a couple of things that make it especially efficient in support of relationships. The first thing that it does is provide individuals with a roadmap to their highest selves. Once you know your type, you can easily decipher how your pattern gets in your way in your relationship but also in other areas (work, family, the bus stop etc.). Your type will also tell you what you look like when you are at your best and what you need to stop avoiding, externalizing, or internalizing in order to get there. Compared with other models such as the Myers-Briggs, knowing your type is not simply the end of the road. It is in fact, a beginning of sorts. It’s the beginning of unfolding from your pattern and becoming a better partner, friend, colleague, leader, and bus stop attendee.
The second thing that the Enneagram does is provide a framework in which to have tough conversations. By knowing our own type and the types of those we love, we can depersonalize some of our interactions with them. If we understand that our loved one is a fear point that suffers from crippling anxiety, we can see their behavior as part of their fixation and not as their true nature. Suddenly the dishes in the sink become less of an attack on the relationship and more of a struggle of humanity. This language allows us to see each other’s true loving nature and remember that we all have our patterns that get in the way of communicating. When we speak to each other in the language of fixation, everything becomes less personal.
What is important for people to understand about their type and the type of their partner/family member/favorite person?
The most important thing that I would tell people is that it is not the behavior that determines the type but the motivation behind the behavior. For example, twos (the helpers) and sixes (the loyalists) are both very friendly people. They both may offer to do favors for you to become your friend. However, the type two fixation is doing these favors from a sense of unworthiness. They feel they cannot be worthy of your love and friendship unless they do something to earn it. A type six, on the other hand, is being friendly and collecting friends to feel safe in the world. Their motivation is that the world feels less scary when they are not alone.
I think is really important to mention that Enneagram purists will say that you can never accurately type another person. Because you can never truly know someone’s motivation and internal experiences, you can never truly identify their type. I find this comforting and liberating in a way. It allows me and my clients to relax into knowing that the very best and most loving work we can do for the relationship is to heal and understand ourselves.
Another essential aspect to mention is that the types are multi-layered. You are not just a type 1-9. You also have a subtype, wings, and movement that helps describe your pattern. These flavors make a huge difference in how the fixation presents itself to the outside world. Think of it as the difference between marinara and vodka sauce, which have similar base ingredients (tomatoes) but completely different flavor profiles. This means that although you may be a type 9 (the peacekeeper) you may look very different from other type 9s.
How do you recommend folks use the Enneagram to increase understanding, growth, and learning in their relationships?
I recommend doing a lot of studying if this model interests you. It was very easy for me to pick out my type but for my biz bestie Hanna, it took years. Don’t expect to be able to complete an online test, or pick up a book, or attend one workshop and feel completely certain about your type (although these tools are helpful!). One thing I do recommend that people pay attention to is any emotion that comes up as they learn about the types. Is there a type that makes you feel icky or a type you really like? These can be cues into your own type. The best thing to do is read, podcast, workshop, and sign up for a consultation. See below for more details!
What resources are out there for people to learn more? Tell us about your offerings!
We are the Empowered Enneagram! You can find us @empoweredenneagram on Instagram and facebook while our website www.empoweredenneagram.com is being built. I can be reached at www.cardinalrivercounseling.com and Hanna can be reached at www.hannawoodycounseling.com.
We offer individual Enneagram consultations for folks who want to learn the basics or get clearer on their type. Couples consultations for couples who want to learn to use the Enneagram as a path to loving communication and also organizational consultations for businesses who want to deal with conflict in their teams or cultivate better leadership skills. We are in the process of creating an e-course that we are hoping will be available next spring. Our next workshop is here in Asheville on January 11, 2019, from 12pm-5pm and the cost is $200. People can register by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would also love folks to join our email list by emailing us email@example.com
Other recommended resources:
The Complete Enneagram By Beatrice Chestnut
The Wisdom of The Enneagram by Riso and Hudson
From Fixation to Freedom by Eli Jaxon Bahr
Wild, Crazy, Meaningful Enneagram
Enneagram for Idiots
The Path Back to You
The Enneagram School of Asheville
Thank you so much for your time and energy, Monica! What do y’all think? What was your biggest take away? Do you already know your type? If so, please let me know in the comments or send me an email about what you’ve learned in using the Enneagram!