It’s true that quite a few Nines can be found in therapy offices (or telehealth screens) across the country. Today we’re going to look at what Nines are looking for when they seek out therapy. We’ll explore how their strengths and weaknesses help them grow or hinder them from making change. Enneagram Nines who are Christians can utilize therapy to see the fullness of the Gospel in their lives. If you want to get caught up on the Enneagram series covering Christians and therapy, you can find the introduction here.
Why Do Nines Go to Therapy?
When I talked about Sevens, I had to ask: “Do Sevens even go to therapy?” Then for Eights, I asked when they would go to therapy. For Nines, I am asking why they go to therapy because they might find it useful at several life stages. If you are not familiar with the profile and characteristics of an Enneagram Type 9, check out The Enneagram Institute or Your Enneagram Coach websites.
Nines are known as The Peacemaker or The Peaceful Mediator. For Christians especially, these titles or nicknames remind us of language we hear in the Bible. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9), and Jesus Himself is our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). Nines have the ability to see many perspectives at once, and they have skill in bringing calm and harmony to relationships. Unfortunately, Nines can do this at their own expense, never fully understanding their own opinions, convictions, and desires.
Since Nines struggle to know their own minds over the course of their lives, they might use therapy as a way of exploring what they really want out of life. Sadly, this often comes up when relationships have gone wrong. Although Nines are good at subverting their own desires to keep other people happy, they can actually become bitter and resentful that they never get their way and never feel prioritized. Ironically, if you ask them what they really wanted, they might not be able to answer.
Younger Nines may use therapy to help them narrow down their values and aspirations for the future. Nines in relationships will want support for making their voices heard and not getting swallowed up in the relationship. Nines suffering a breakdown in a relationship or career path will want therapy to help them rediscover parts of themselves that weren’t allowed to surface during the years in the previous relationship or career. In any stage, therapists can support Nines to become more assertive without fearing the inevitable waves they may create.
Designing Therapy for Nines
I have quite a few Nines in my life, and many of them are either currently in therapy or have past therapy experience. Even though they struggle to know their own minds and express their true desires, they seem to know what works and what doesn’t work for them in therapy. One friend said she likes her therapist to ask a lot of questions that help her figure out her own thought process and deepen her insight. Another friend stated that she appreciates her therapist being very direct in how she speaks to her. She also appreciates the accountability that her therapist offers her to make the changes in real life that they have talked about in therapy sessions.
In this video by Abby Howe, Abby gives examples of dialogue that might be found in each type going to therapy. (If you’re into this blog series, you’ll like the video!) The Type 9 in the video admits to having all sorts of depressive symptoms, but is not ready to admit that she has depression. She shrugs it off with a “It’s ok, I’m fine” attitude. In reading some of the comments on the video, I saw several Nines identify with this feeling in therapy.
Therefore, when therapists are designing therapy for a Nine, it might be useful to frontload with psychoeducation (i.e. “These are all the signs of depression.”) and then create a safe place for the client to come to grips with what may be true for her. Personally, I would use a lot of self-disclosure in this setting. This will capitalize on the Nines tendency to want to join with other people. My disclosure of certain issues might help them grow in awareness of their own issues, pushing them down the path to actually working on them.
A caveat for therapists working with Nines is that they have a strong drive to keep you happy. They may struggle to speak up if something isn’t working for them. They may passively avoid trying one of your homework assignments. Therapists have to work hard to make sure Nines are growing in their ability to be self-directed, rather than looking to the therapist for approval, stability, and momentum.
Nines and the Gospel
One of the difficulties of Nines is the tendency to avoid difficult or unpleasant things in life. This leads them to “numb out” through various forms of mental escapism. Juxtaposed with the Christian life that we see in Scripture, there is a contradiction. Jesus offers us abundant life (John 10:10) and ultimate reality (2 Corinthians 4:18). Yet Jesus also tells us that we will have trouble in this life, but He offers us His peace (John 16:33). Counselors can help Nines by removing the responsibility of peace-keeping from their shoulders. Instead, we point them to the Prince of Peace. By drawing closer to Jesus, Nines can get lasting peace and stop being fearful of conflict and discomfort.
Therapists can also help Nines see how Jesus never overlooks them. Because they often don’t speak up or share their own opinions, Nines can become resentful. The feel that they don’t matter and their presence isn’t valued. God, on the other hand, never forgets one of His sheep. He has a unique design for each of His children. Discovering their unique design and purpose can be a valuable part of both therapeutic progress and spiritual formation.
Tell Me About Nines
As I said, I have a lot of Nines in my life, but I am not personally a Type 9. My goal is to make each type feel seen and validated. What parts of the article made you say “Yes, that’s me!” and what did I miss that you wish someone would see? I’d love to have you share here in the comments, through email to email@example.com, or on IG @soulgritresources.