Understanding Yourself and Others Through the Enneagram

I first met Anissa Ferris at a birthday celebration for a mutual friend, but her reputation had preceded her since my wife Linda had already spent most of two Saturdays in Anissa’s workshop on the Enneagram, a powerful tool to increase self-awareness and help us understand others.

 After only a brief conversation, I was equally taken with Anissa’s enthusiasm for how understanding and applying the Enneagram process can transform lives.

I immediately signed up for her next workshop.

Anissa holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work. In 1998, she opened her psychotherapy practice in Raleigh, NC, focused on working with adolescent and adult women dealing with stress, anxiety, depression and grief.

She offers practical guidance to her clients through support and insights that help them to solve problems and achieve positive change.

Her chief aim? To help them develop greater self-awareness that then leads to making more conscious and useful choices and living a more fulfilling life.

Anissa has also been a certified Enneagram teacher in the narrative/oral tradition since 2013. She finds the Enneagram very helpful in providing clients a paradigm for personal growth and lasting change.

“The Enneagram is a powerful and dynamic personality system for self-awareness and understanding others. It describes the structure and dynamics of nine distinct personality patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving that represents these nine strategies that we can relate to ourselves, others and the world.”

As an avid gardener, Anissa uses the illustration of a kinked hose to explain how as human beings, we become equally twisted up and kinked.

“We all do this. We lose our flow. We all have certain gifts that we can offer the world. The Enneagram really highlights what our gift is. When we’re kinked up – stressed out, angry, fearful, sad – that’s the kink in the hose. Instead of pausing and going to where the kink is and undoing it, we often jerk on the hose and try to pull out the kink. We all know how that goes. It doesn’t work.

‘The Enneagram helps you identify where the kink is. Some of us are kinked up with fear, some of us with anger, and some of us are kinked up with a frustration that we’re not affirmed or seen. When you put the power of the Enneagram to work, you don’t have to walk all around the yard looking for the kink. You’ll know exactly where it is.”

Building on the work of psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankel, Ferris explains that the Enneagram provides the awareness needed to make healthy choices in our lives.

 “Frankel said that in-between stimulus and response, there is a space. And in that space is the power to choose. If we can learn to pause, for even a moment, as we make decisions about how to respond, we can lead a more intentional life.”

Each of the Enneagram personality types offers a different lens on the world. “If we can understand how we see the world and then maybe understand that we can learn from someone else and how they see the world, that creates the potential to work together.”