My Practitioner Journey
In my late 20’s I read Isabel Myers’ book Gifts Differing. The book changed my life – it confirmed I was OK just the way I was, despite being surrounded by others that were different from me, both at home, and at work.
Helping people understand themselves through the lens of Type became my mission and passion. I was resolved to do it in way that provided practical impact in people’s lives, like it had in mine. Knowing first-hand the pain and disappointment of a career that didn’t fit, in environments that did not value differences, I wanted others to appreciate Type and how it could transform interpersonal relationships and workplace dynamics. I was determined to help teams and organizations create cultures of compassion.
Fast forward through the rest of my story: Circa 2000, I founded my consulting firm, The People Skills Group. I taught MBTI Certification courses for Type Resources and later, the Center for Application of Psychological Type (CAPT). I spoke and wrote extensively about Type, including authoring and editing a web site for Katharine Myers. I facilitated MBTI workshops for hundreds of companies and thousands of participants. Based on my experiences, I produced a suite of Type tools that help people to quickly understand, and practically apply, their Dominant Function in the workplace. I continue this work and am constantly amazed at the never-ending insights, growth and development that that Type brings to me, and to my clients.
Yet, facilitating Type workshops has not always been easy.
Throughout the 20 or so years of facilitating MBTI workshops, time and again I have bumped up against the issues and dilemmas familiar to most Type practitioners.
These issues run the gamut from providing quality programs in ever decreasing time frames (and now virtually), to managing participant misunderstandings stemming from the forced-choice nature of the MBTI and the unrelenting MBTI bashing and misrepresentation in the popular press. If you have ever heard statements like, “I can’t do X because my Type is Y”, or “The MBTI is junk science” you know of what I speak.
But the most difficult challenge I encountered with facilitating Type workshops was how to balance the simplistic nature of the MBTI with the depth of the theory on which it is based. How do we move people from focusing on individual preference letters, or even eight separate Jungian Functions – the parts – to understanding and embracing the rich theory of Jungian Psychological Type?
And how do we accomplish this within shrinking time frames, while using Type instruments like the MBTI, that are dichotomous in nature?
Roots of the Jungian Tree
It was good fortune that along my journey I was introduced to my mentors – Jungian Analyst Angelo Spoto, and Katharine Myers, daughter-in-law of Isabel Myers.
Both Katharine and Spoto had the same vision – Type, as accessed through the MBTI, must stay connected to the Jungian roots from which it evolved. In his book, Jung’s Typology in Perspective, written when the MBTI was gaining immense popularity, Spoto recounts, “…I hope to circumvent the ‘typological frenzy’ which sooner or later must run its course, and to reconnect to the main and enduring concerns of Jung’s psychology as a whole.” (page 20)
Katharine’s vision was for the Indicator to remain connected like a limb, to the Jungian tree.
Katharine Myers and Angelo Spoto worked to make this vision a reality by gathering a group of Type Practitioners to attend yearly Jungian conferences, led by Spoto. Katharine wanted to make sure that those of us in attendance were grounded enough in Jungian psychology to take that foundation into our client work. Her belief was that Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers had created a doorway into the deeper aspects of Jungian psychology through the MBTI, and practitioners could weave Jungian principles into feedback sessions as they facilitated.
Both Spoto and Myers were concerned about maintaining the MBTI’s depth and integrity. This is the most important lesson I learned along the way.
But the question remained, how do we do that? For me, finding a solution has been a lot like Goldilocks’ dilemma in The Three Bears; how can we balance the simplistic nature of the MBTI with the depth of Jungian Typology – and Jung’s psychology in general – so the content is not too hard, or too soft, but just right?
The Training Solution: Going Deep While Keeping It Simple
The refinement and understanding of Jung’s Eight Types (now called Functions-in-Attitude, Mental Processes, or Cognitive Processes) within the past 15 or so years has brought us to a new level of understanding and has enhanced our practical application of Type.
Refined definitions of the eight Mental Processes have expanded our Type knowledge. But we still need to explain these functions within the container of Jung’s psychological model; it is this piece of the Type puzzle that distinguishes the MBTI and other Type instruments from their counterparts – the trait instrument. Our 4-LetterType is unique among tools and assessments in that it fits within the larger Jungian system.
What I discovered after 20 years of fine-tuning MBTI workshops – introductory and advanced application workshops – is that it is possible to incorporate four basic Jungian principles into Type training with some simple tweaks.
As practitioners, we can integrate the principles of Jungian Typology into our workshops by explicitly naming them in our sessions. For each of these four principles, there are facilitation techniques – some of which are already part and parcel of the standard MBTI feedback workshop – that practitioners can adopt to enhance the Jungian framework.
Here are the four, most important, principles of Jungian Typology:
- Psychological Type is holistic – more than individual preferences added together – more than just the sum of its parts.
- Psychological Type addresses the different ways in which we use our minds– it’s a cognitive model.
- Psychological Type is a system of energy – it’s our psychological energy exchange system.
- Psychological Type is a development model – it provides a compass for guiding individual, leader and team growth and development.
Why Integrating the Principles of Jungian Typology is Critical
When we teach Type by keeping it connected to its Jungian roots, we are providing much more value to our clients; Type becomes a living, breathing system that can help us better navigate any situation, be it personal or work related.
Keeping Type connected to its Jungian roots enables our clients to not only appreciate differences, but to have a deeper understanding of opposites – those opposites that reside in the environment outside of us, as well as within ourselves. It helps our clients to grasp, at a deeper level, that we engage all of the functions when we need to, and we can integrate all of Jung’s functions as we grow and develop. It becomes a framework that we can call on for just about any situation. Most importantly, it takes the 4-letter Type Code out of the box, and assists in limiting stereotypes and misconceptions that come from viewing the Types as simply bundles of traits, or independent parts.
To learn more about creating a Type session that provides impact, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We provide Advanced MBTI Practitioner Training for internal teams of Certified practitioners, as well as one-to-one peer coaching for practitioners, consultants and coaches, to build Type facilitation skills.