The Enneagram Prison Project – Beauty from Ashes


I’ve had the pleasure of recently discovering a gem in the sea of Enneagram related discussion, application and education. This is a sea often filled with a focus on talk and feelings, things I personally can relate to, but do you know what is far, far sweeter?

Action. Progress. Healing.

These themes are the song of my life, and topics I have something of a nose and insatiable appetite for. So I was very excited when I caught wind of the Enneagram Prison Project!

The EPP is a catalyst for change in the hearts of incarcerated men and women. It seeks to reach inside each individual, to heal wounds, and to reveal the path to health. This work has been amazingly effective in two prisons in Southern California, giving prisoners hope and real heart change– this heart change leads to transformed lives that need never return to bondage. With 2.2 million people currently held in US prisons, and 60% stuck in a viscous lifestyle cycle that returns them to jail within 3 years, life change is greatly needed.  The EPP has spoken to this need using the Enneagram, inmates are responding, and life change is happening! Check out this video to get a feel for the work that’s being done, and the freedom that is being found in the lives of people who thought they were out of choices.

My first thoughts after watching that video are these: what would it take for people outside of prison to embrace their darkness, and need to change like these inmates do? Can we follow in their example? Most people I have met who know or use the Enneagram, have used it in a seriously half hearted manner. Labeling themselves, shrugging, going on with life as per usual, and at times wondering why they clash with others and themselves. I love the Enneagram Prison Project because it’s participants are such shining examples of the inner work and exploration each of us needs to do, to be whole– whether inside a prison, or walking free. Are you really free?

I think the founder of EPP, Susan Olesek put it best when she said, “everybody gets in trouble with their personality, everybody finds themselves doing stuff they don’t want to be doing– but we don’t ever get taught how to stop. The thing I think I’ve learned the most is the power of self observation. The power of being able to stop long enough to become a third party witness to myself.”  Whoever we are, whatever our circumstances, we all need to grow.

Isn’t it funny, and so the way God works, when a program that’s developed to help the incarcerated, serves to encourage and challenge the rest of the population to grow. I feel that, and hope that others will too, as the APP grows and expands to prisons all over the country. May it leave change in it’s wake, as prisoners become teachers, allowing their brokeness to bring beauty to the lives of others.

The story of The Enneagram Prison Project is so real to me, and what I’ve long attempted to explain to anyone who will listen– the Enneagram is a golden tool that can be used not only to realize our road blocks and potential, but to utilize our areas of brokenness for positive change.

You can check out resources about each of the Enneagram types in the right side bar and read more about, or donate to the Enneagram Prison Project here.  As always, feel free to reach out to me at with questions, typing issues or ideas. 🙂

The Enneagram Prison Project – Beauty from Ashes

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