Avoid these Enneagram Coach Mistakes which cause mistyping.

These Enneagram coaching mistakes happen to beginners and advanced Enneagram practitioners, especially when typing the Enneagram.

These mistakes are really common and can be costly.

My internationally ICF accredited Enneagram Coach Certification guides many enneagram enthusiasts to become in-demand life-changing professional Enneagram Coaches, I have compiled the mistakes I see new Enneagram Coaches make all the time.

10 Enneagram Coach Mistakes are…

#1 Focusing on behavior!

The Enneagram is based on something less conscious and deeper than behavior.

It’s the hidden reason for behavior that shapes the Enneagram.

Surface personality systems look at what is obvious, laying on the ground.

The Enneagram when understood well is not a surface personality system. It has depth, showing us the underlying cause, the motivating driver of behavior.

When we focus on surface behavior, and don’t look for “why we do what we do” we mistype ourselves and others.

When I ask my online students, “Who enjoys helping others?” Virtually all put their hands up.

But they’re not all Enneagram Type 2’s.
Typically Enneagram Type 2 is associated with the behavior of helping. 

Type 2 is classically called The Helper or the Giver, and that’s based on behavior.

All 9 Enneagram types can be helpful and engage in helpful behavior, but for different reasons.

WHY WE HELP is what matters – do you see the difference?

  • Type 1 might help to correct or make right.
  • Type 2 might help to be seen as your ideal someone and be needed.
  • Type 3 might help to get ahead and achieve a win.
  • Type 4 might help to feel special and find original self-expression.
  • Type 5 might help to bring knowledge to ignorance and prove competency.
  • Type 6 might help to defend the underdog and be useful.
  • Type 7 might help to bring joy and run from pain.
  • Type 8 might help to assert power and get it done.
  • Type 9 might help to avoid conflict and keep the peace.

Why we do what we do is a hidden reason, it’s mostly unconscious (until we become conscious of it). So I call these the InnerLifeSkills grains of sand in the personality pearl.

Enneagram Coach Mistakes - behavior

#2 Having no coaching structure!

Whether they’re typing informally for friends or working with the Enneagram professionally, Enneagram Coaches often fail to use a structure in their sessions, which leaves everything wide open for mistyping.

If you want to coach professionally or charge for your services, having a flexible structure that still lets you be intuitive is key.

That’s why on your path from Enneagram Enthusiast to professional I recommend using a methodology that combines a mix of coaching and education.

Coaching + Educating

Coaching is about asking powerful questions in a narrative style, where you partner with your clients to determine their Enneagram type. The pressure is not on you to figure out someone’s type for them.

Educating empowers clients with knowledge of ALL 9 TYPES to help them discover their type.

This way of coaching means your clients walk away with more than a type. You have given them a foundation understanding of the Enneagram.

My Enneagram Coach professional worksheets, charts, and manual give my students an intuitive, flexible, but reliable structure to use in their typing sessions.



#3 Do more that just type!

To really support your client’s personal and spiritual growth, go beyond typing.

You can go beyond diagnostic typing work, especially when you type more accurately using the narrative coaching style that I’m recommending.

The real gift of the Enneagram is to its map for growth, not just to label a personality type.

Ideally, after only one or two sessions spent on educating and coaching the 9 types, and determining the type, imagine being able to support your clients claiming their wholeness. What a beautiful thing to be able to do!

Work with your coaching clients to claim their wholeness and take their Enneagram to the highest level of expression.

Enneagram Type CP6 counter phobic six

#4 Don’t forget about Counterphobic Six!

Forgetting about counterphobic 6 happens all the time.

Counterphobic six is often completely neglected. In nearly every class I teach, Type 8’s realize they are CP6.

There are two kinds of sixes.

One six is phobic, the other counterphobic.

So don’t forget about counterphobic six. Study it and make sure you include the understanding of this neglected type.

#5 Don’t rely on Enneagram tests!

Please don’t rely heavily (or at all) on online Enneagram tests.

Even the best tests in the world don’t have a high degree of accuracy. My colleagues and I have found only a 50 to 60% accuracy.

I much prefer the narrative approach. There are a lot of experts and beautiful Enneagram Coach trainers out there also supporting a narrative approach.

What’s a narrative approach?

Instead of your client spending time and money filling in a digital questionnaire, to get a cold automated report that may or may not be accurate, why not spend the same hour educating them about all nine types?

Ask questions, educate people, and they will leave with a much more accurate typing plus the gift of understanding themselves and others.

Empowered people with knowledge.

If your client is still not sure of their type, they can come back for a follow-up session and mindfully journal for self-awareness in between.

If you take a narrative approach you help people to discover their Enneagram type and give them the knowledge of a complete personality system.

Enneagram Coach 9 types

#6 Don’t forget the Enneagram wings!

If we don’t understand Enneagram wings, we miss out on the way that the types subtly change because of this influence.

Learning the Enneagram can be complicated. But if you learn the Enneagram in a logical, uncluttered way, by the time you get to the wings, you gain subtle nuances instead of complex confusion.

So please don’t forget about the wings.

Enneagram Ladder for personal growth

#7 Include an appreciation of levels of health.

Every Enneagram type has many levels of health or degrees of enlightened expression.

A low-level expression type looks very different to its highest expression because they’ve embodied wholeness.

If you haven’t got a thorough, deep, in-your-bones, intuitive understanding of the Enneagram, then this is going to be very confusing.

One of the reasons tests are not very accurate is because they struggle to type people in the higher and lower registers. They tend to be set in the mid-levels.

#8 Be aware of the 3 Instincts!

This is not as important as the other points, but it’s still important.

Please don’t forget that there are also 3 instincts.

  • social instinct
  • sexual instinct
  • and self-preservation instinct

These layer subtle nuances over each Enneagram type.

Think of the instincts as tints or shades added to the personality.

It helps to understand the differences between a social instinct 9 and a self pres 9. How you do get a social 5, and a self-preservation 7 which are variations of the core type.

The 3 instincts exaggerate some of the qualities and suppress others, so please make sure that you understand the instincts in order to coach the Enneagram. 

#9 Not knowing what questions to ask to help the typing process

Not knowing what questions to ask is frustrating and might leave you feeling like you can’t offer professional Enneagram services.

There are helpful key questions as a part of the narrative style of typing that we can ask to narrow down an enneagram type.

Having a vocabulary of empowering coaching questions is very important. Not having a broad coaching question vocabulary can be an enneagram coaching mistake.

For example, asking a potential Type 8 “What is your response to betrayal?” is very helpful as most 8’s respond with pure gut-based instinct… something like: “I cut them off!” or “They’re dead to me!”

Other types might say, “It depends on the circumstances,” or “I’d be very upset.”


Coaching questions to find inner wisdom

#10 Don’t rely on appearances to determine a type

I made all these Enneagram Coach mistakes when I was starting out.

I tried the tests. I tried typing without a flexible structure. Forgot about counter-phobic six.

So I’ve been there.

The last mistake is relying on appearance. When I was new to the Enneagram, I thought I could guess someone’s type from their body posture and looks. 

I incorrectly thought all type 4’s looked eccentric, 7’s looked young and free-spirited, and 8’s frowned. Soon I discovered conservatively dressed 4’s and serious 7’s and laughing 8’s.

So please don’t rely on appearance. We need to look deeper than the surface.

Final message

Once you overcome these Enneagram Coach Mistakes, why not explore the spiritual Enneagram?

Wisdom shows us that the Enneagram is in the self; the self is not in the Enneagram. This is a sacred design, a program, like a pattern on leaves and flowers. 

Offer professional Enneagram Coaching


Join Colleen-Joy’s next Enneagram Coaching Certification online group.
Learn to guide clients to discover their Enneagram Type without needing unreliable tests.