Fives may be motivated to change for a variety of reasons usually rooted in fear and potential loss – of people, time and opportunities. Explaining why he sought counseling one Five said, “I began to fear that I would coop myself up and end up living only half a life.” Another added: “I fear wasting my time, my life, because it is so quick. I fear not having the opportunities to do what I love.” Still another Five says: “I need ways to step “into” life, instead of observing it from behind the glass. I feel it’s important to make that transition. But I don’t want to lose my edge: the smart, hyper-aware, observer in me. Still, there’s a barrier that I want to break through, not just by knowing more, but by actually living and experiencing more.”

Fives need to be guided to weaken the barriers between their head, emotions and body as well as between the different contexts of their life, to learn to recognize and appreciate their emotions and attend to what they want for themselves. Acknowledging that others are emotionally important to them is also a good general goal. Following on this style’s penchant for banking metaphors, a counselor could persuade a Five client that investing in relationships is profitable and that the Fives will actually gain more by sharing.

Fives can be intellectually gifted, but need to use their gifts for something besides hiding. As they grow and change they often become more generous, offering the fruits of their interests and knowledge to the world. They take what they learn in scholarly isolation and offer it into the world.

To these ends a counselor could encourage a Five client to go towards the world and become more pro-active. She could learn to assert herself prior to feeling overwhelmed and invaded, rather than passively allowing others to make demands and then compulsively withdrawing after- the-fact.

Learning to communicate their needs, fight constructively and negotiate with the world are all good goals for Fives. Expressing constricted emotions is also helpful. Some Fives need to endure the intensity of their feelings and learn how to handle their passion as well as their anger. A counselor could encourage creative expression as well as maybe have a Five client keep a journal.

Counselors working with Fives may have to navigate around a Five’s nervousness about being coached. With defensive Fives it may be useful to tell stories of work with other Fives that mimic the work you are doing with the Five in front of you. The idea is to not seem to be doing counseling, since the Five may be especially on guard against being influenced, despite the fact that he or she wants a better quality of life.


Excerpted from The Dynamic Enneagram by Tom Condon

Copyright 2009, 2013 by Thomas Condon

Available as an ebook serial at Tom’s website


Tom Condon has worked with the Enneagram since 1980 and with Ericksonian hypnosis and NLP since 1977. These three models are combined in his trainings to offer a useful collection of tools for changing and growing, to apply the Enneagram dynamically, as a springboard to positive change. Tom has taught over 800 workshops in the US, Europe and Asia and is the author of 50 CDs, DVDs and books on the Enneagram, NLP and Ericksonian methods. He is founder and director of The Changeworks in Bend, Oregon.