The Enneagram and EFT

Healing yourself, loving the world

This article was the first piece I wrote on the Enneagram and EFT, published in an EFT magazine in the UK.  You can find several other updated posts on my site on this subject. 

A practical model of transformation

The Enneagram is a spiritual, psychological, and self-development model and system with a rich history. The skillful combination of EFT and the Enneagram is a powerful, efficient, and unique approach to address our own and our clients’ issues.

The Enneagram is a model that describes how we relate to the world. It could be considered a personality typing system but in reality is much more. While each of us is unique, we also belong to a distinct, larger group that has its own way of relating and operating, with a classic dysfunction and a corresponding redeeming quality. The gift of the Enneagram is that it shows us the path to our redeeming qualities. The gift of EFT is that it moves us along that path more quickly and efficiently.

The Enneagram describes nine types, each driven by a basic need, fear or misunderstanding of the world which influences how they act and what they perceive; paradoxically this leads to the very thing they fear most. Each type is named a number; different authors assign different labels to each. No number is better or worse than another.

Do you feel unloved? Do you feel responsible? Do you feel driven to improve? Do you feel misunderstood? Do you feel anxious? Do you feel fearful? Do you feel lost?

For EFT practitioners, understanding the different types allows us to understand our client’s orientation. By understanding our clients’ orientations, we can offer language that combined with tapping has the power to transform past blocks and limiting beliefs into powerful assets and gifts.

Note: For an in-depth description of each type, please visit Don Riso and Russ Hudson’s authoratative website. My descriptions are based on Riso and Hudson’s work as well as Helen Palmer’s language. Any distorted explanation of the types is entirely my error.

The nine types

Ones have the need to be right. Rules and order are important to this type and often they have a perfectionist orientation. They often resist reality and have a lot of “shoulds” however they resist expressing their anger. Accepting what is and coming to peace with reality is key for this type. At their best they are very wise and giving and accept reality while still working towards a common good.

Twos have the need to be loved and needed. Their basic fear is of being unwanted or unloved. They desire to be close to others and want to give and receive love. They are out of touch with their own needs and voice and are very much in tune with the needs of others. At their best they are generous and compassionate.

Threes have the need to succeed, feel valuable, and be accepted. Their basic fears are of being worthless or unacceptable. They are very good at adapting to each situation based on what others admire but are out of touch with what is true or real for themselves. At their best, they are authentic and an inspiration to others.

Fours have the need to be unique. They are often more identified with their negative emotions than their positive ones. They desire to be understood but often feel no one can possibly understand them. They are often artistic and creative but stand alone in their own emotional drama.

Fives have the need to perceive or know. They have a deep need to understand and can feel the need for more knowledge to feel safe in the world. At their best, they are magnificent thinkers with the capacity to understand issues from a worldview.

Sixes have the need for structure and security. They are loyal and often need an affiliation with a group or authority figure to feel safe. Sixes are able to anticipate problems and think through all the possibilities, which can lead to feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

Sevens have the need to keep moving and have new experiences. At the core of this is the need to not feel their pain. They are very energetic types and will move from one activity to another. They are very optimistic and refuse to see the limitations in the situation.

Eights have the need to not be controlled. They will overreact to any attempt to control them. They are an assertive type and have a huge presence. They are very strong leaders and are very protective of those inside their family and inner circle.

Nines have the need to not be in conflict, to be at peace. They don’t like to feel or express their anger. They are powerful in a gentle way but don’t like direct confrontations. Nines are often most taken for granted.

Combining With EFT

The first use of the Enneagram is in understanding your own type. Knowing your own type will add a depth of self-knowledge that is essential to being a skilled practitioner. You will better understand which clients appeal to you and which clients are more challenging. As you read the type descriptions and affirmations, if you feel resistance, that’s an obvious opportunity for tapping for yourself. Remember, no type is better or worse than another; each type has a powerful gift to offer to the world.

The second use of the Enneagram is in directly working with the clients’ issues. Sometimes clients will present a theme of issues to be addressed. Discovering and understanding the core orientation of the client will offer you language ideas for transformation. Customizing the set-up phrases and offering optional affirmations for the client’s core orientation is a direct application of the Enneagram to the practice of EFT and can result in a deep and broad sense of relief for the client.


Normally I start off with a client working through specific issues. After a few sessions, I often have enough pointers to suggest a specific type. I might suggest the client read about the types between sessions. Please remember that while it is very liberating to discover one’s true type, it can also feel exposing and a bit scary. Once again, that offers material to address with tapping.

For a one, I might address the general sense of responsibility using language such as, “ Even though I feel compelled to make things right, I love and accept myself anyway. Even though I feel responsible to the world, I love and accept myself deeply.” An affirmation might be, “I am wise. I can choose when to act and when not to.”

For a three, set-up phrases might include, “Even though I have this feeling of unworthiness, and I need to prove myself, I am open to the idea of loving and accepting myself. Even though I must show I am valuable, and I’ll work hard to do so, I am open to the idea of loving myself for who I am and not what I do. Even though I don’t know what I want or who I am, I love and myself anyway. Even though who I am is not acceptable, I love myself anyway.” An affirmation might be, “ I am a worthy person. I know myself.”

For a six, language might include, “Even though I judge myself for being fearful, I love and accept myself. Even though I hate being fearful, I accept my gifts of anticipation and perception. Even though I am really good at anticipating problems, and sometimes that scares me, I love and accept myself and my ability to look for problems.” An affirmation might be, “ I am safe. My mind is in service to my heart”.

Integrating head, heart and body

Each of the types over- or under-relates to one of the thinking, feeling, or instinctive centers. As you clear issues and explore the dynamics of your and your clients’ type, you’ll find a new balance of thinking, feeling, and knowing that offers an integrated approach to being. Tapping on our unbalances and releasing our core fears is a powerful and transformative use of both EFT and the Enneagram.


Photo by Casey Horner

Share this post: 

Related Posts

Deborah Donndelinger

Deborah Donndelinger

I'm writing from Maryland, but my heart goes out all over the world. I'm cheering you on as you tackle the hard stuff, embrace the easy, and show up to help others.