“Using psychological type as the basis for understanding development and consciously directing our growth, bridges type theory with the Jungian psyche and the process of individuation.” Katharine D. Myers

Benefits: Affirming your particular gifts and understanding how and when to use those gifts to operate more consciously in the world. Knowing that you have choices to use the mental processes that are appropriate for the situation. Gaining an awareness of, and appreciation for, individual differences at a deeper level.

When people are introduced to the MBTI® and psychological type what often gets lost in translation is an understanding that type is a component of the larger living and breathing system called our psyche.

Jung believed our type is innate. We can’t change our underlying typology – I will always be an ENFJ – but because our type is dynamic and moving, we are free to choose which preferences we want to use, and when; but we must first become aware of how we naturally focus our energy and orient ourselves to the world. Type is often times presented as if it were static, unchanging. So as an ENFJ, I would be the sum of E+N+F+J.

This is where the traditional understanding of Type Dynamics comes in; the second level in Katharine Myers’ Five Levels of Understanding™. It is the first step toward fully understanding type’s dynamic nature in the context of the Jungian psyche.

If we walk through the door of our type code, Type Dynamics provides us with a path for maintaining a natural balance between spending too much time in either the outer and inner worlds (extraversion and introversion) and between focusing too much on either taking in information (perceiving) or coming to conclusions (judging).

And herein lies one aspect of the power of type; it’s about balance. Think about these questions:

1. Do you take in too much detail without looking at the big picture, or do you miss the detail and always look at only the theoretical? Either way, what are you missing or not attending to?

2. Are you too quick to decide, or do you belabor decisions because you think you don’t have enough information? How do your actions show up for you? What are you sacrificing?

3. Do you quickly tend to analyze and come to objective decisions, but in the process often forget about the people involved? Or are you so focused on how people are feeling most of the time that you really don’t think things through logically? How have your decisions panned out? Do you routinely ruffle any feathers?

4. Are you spending too much time doing and not enough reflecting? Or are you staying inside yourself and not letting others know what you think or feel? Where is that leaving you?

Type Dynamics provides us with some answers. If we understand the two “middle letters” of our type code and how we express them both inside and outside of ourselves, then we are on our way to evaluating where our energy is going, what is draining us, and what we need to pay more attention to.

This endeavor will take more than simply skimming a description of your 4-letter type, but it’s worth the time invested. It will help you know how to re-direct your energy and what to do when you are stuck. If you know your 4-letter code, learn about your dominant function and your auxiliary function, and think about how you use them (we have tons of resources listed on this site). Once you understand their definitions, go back to the four questions I have posed.

You may find that to get the results you are looking for you simply need to make a small shift by engaging both your dominant and your auxiliary functions in a way that you haven’t before.


“The opinion has gotten about that my method…consists in fitting [people] into this system and giving them corresponding ‘advice.’  This regrettable misunderstanding completely ignores the fact that this kind of classification is nothing but a childish parlour game…My topology is far rather a critical apparatus serving to sort out and organize the welter of empirical material, but not in any sense to stick labels on people at first sight.”   Carl Jung

Katharine Myers’ model, the Five Levels of Understanding™ , depicts a triangle with the simple understanding of your 4-letter type as its foundation and increasing depth implied through movement up the triangle. It represents that the number of people delving into each successive level will decrease, with the minority of people reaching the top and engaging in Jungian individuation. Katharine has been clear throughout the years in saying that the majority of people who take the MBTI® instrument do not move much farther beyond this most basic level of interpretation, and that is OK. For many, this level of understanding is enough.

Yet, Katharine has also echoed Jung’s words by saying that if there is no critical mass of people that move up through the increasingly complex layers of Jungian psychological type, there is a danger that type will become nothing more than a “parlor game”.

Today, with the advent of the internet there are hundreds, maybe thousands (?) of personality “tests” that use Isabel Myers’ 16 type structure to provide us with our “Jung type” or our “personality type”  and even who we should date according to type.  Even though the majority of these sites claim that they are not the real MBTI, people new to type cannot decipher the difference. This is something that daunts and bewilders type practitioners. I would not want to guess at how many people “get” and “take” their “MBTI” this way.

This is not the critical mass that Katharine Myers was talking about! Getting 4 letters from a “test” on the internet does not facilitate a true understanding of MBTI® type and what it is about; and whether it leads people to want to pursue the information at a deeper level is questionable. There is a danger that getting “typed” this way is interesting, but can be easily discarded – a fun exercise, or a “parlor game” at best, and a way take shortcuts to understanding human behavior and stereotyping at its worst.  This modern phenomenon in our world of type adds fuel to the fire of our critics.

What Katharine was talking about when she placed “Verifying and Understanding Your 4-Letter MBTI® Type” at the bottom of her 5-level triangle, was self-selecting your type through an interpretive process with a trained professional, comparing it to  MBTI “Reported Type” and finding what type you think fits you best, or your “Best-Fit Type”.  There are all kinds of reasons why an interpretation is necessary[click here to read about the Ethics of the MBTI] not the least of which is that the MBTI preferences are not simple traits. The MBTI is an Indicator that gets us to the complex psychological theory of psychological type. The 4-letter code is just that; a code that needs to be unlocked to understand its full potential to be useful in peoples lives.

It is through an interpretive process with a competent and certified practitioner, that you will get a full understanding of your 4 letter  type – what it means, how it applies to you, how it frames your understanding of the world, how people might see you, how you may communicate with others, how you may work on a team, or lead a company, or interact with your children or spouse. It enables you to understand more fully how you have grown and developed, and what you might need to look at about yourself that you haven’t before.

And yes, believe it or not, all that can come from getting some expert advice and the professional resources that come with an interpretive session. That is what Katharine meant by “Verifying and Understanding Your 4-letter type”.  She was talking about the benefits and the “a-has” that come from a professional interpretation – the process that Isabel Myers herself set up years ago.  And after all, to quote Jung, we need to “bloom from where we are planted”.

To find an MBTI® practitioner near you, go to http://www.mbtireferralnetwork.org/



The Five Levels of Understanding™ – An Overview

February 5, 2014

“When people are introduced to the MBTI, the parts of the theory – the four type dichotomies, E-I, S-N, T-F and J-P – are generally explained first. Because these parts are interesting and useful in themselves, many people stop at this level of understanding. In doing so, they miss the broader implications and applications that […]

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The New Year’s Resolution – a Jungian Type Perspective

December 26, 2013

  Today I was inspired by a You-Tube video sent by a friend from Britain’s Got Talent, 2010.  Janey Cutler, an 80 year-old mother of 7 and grandmother of 13, was living in the moment – a friend told her to audition and so she did.  I was struck by Simon’s question to her after […]

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On Individuation: The Transcendent Function: Part 3 of a 3 Part Series

September 17, 2013

Here is our third blog by Type Expert and student of Jungian psychology, Danielle Poirier.  If you have NOT read the first two blogs, or it has been a while, I encourage you to re-read these before you read this one. Individuation, as defined by Jung, includes the reconciliation and differentiation of opposites within ourselves. […]

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On Individuation: The Transcendent Function – Part 2 of a 3 Part Series

August 12, 2013

In her first blog of this series, Danielle Poirier talks about the Jungian notion, to “hold the tension of the opposites” ;  if we can tolerate the tension, we can be led to resolution. In this second segment, Danielle gives us an example of this through her story of Josh, a bush pilot, that unexpectedly […]

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On Individuation: The Transcendent Function – A Three Part Series

July 4, 2013

  A while back, I promised a series on Individuation – Jung’s term for our journey toward wholeness – a lifelong journey.  In this three part series, Type expert and student of Jung,  guest blogger Danielle Poirier, writes eloquently on the role of typology in the individuation process as it relates to what Jung termed […]

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Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®

May 23, 2013

CPP is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the, of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.  We here at MBTItoday.org have decided to join the party; we have posted this piece about Katharine Myers and her involvement with the Indicator and the Myers family that we hope you will enjoy.  Katharine has contributed to the progress of […]

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CAPT Announces MBTI® Step III™ Certification Training for Coaches and Counselors

May 6, 2013

CAPT (the Center for Applications of Psychological Type) is conducting an MBTI® Step III™ Certification Program in Miami, FL on July 9th and 10th, 2013, in conjunction with the APTi Conference. The cost of the program is $795. Katharine D. Myers’ 5 for 5 Grant Program Based on the roaring success of the recent CAPT […]

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Explaining Some Fundamentals of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®

January 18, 2013

We have been seeing more and more general  misunderstanding of the ‘scaffloding’ on which the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was built; on the web and in the popular press.  I asked Peter Geyer, type author and expert on the history of the Indicator, to set the record straight on the aspects of the Indicator that are most […]

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