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INFJ Therapy or Coaching may require a unique approach that addresses the emotional struggles faced by sensitive people who identify as INFJs in the MBTI system. Many INFJs already engage in deep introspection, so they may find they need something more in-depth and more thought-provoking. For INFJ therapy or coaching to be helpful, It should also help them harness their strengths of empathy, depth of thinking, resilience, and creativity.
INFJ stands for (I)ntroversion, I(N)tuition, (F)eeling, and (J)udgement. At face value, these terms may be confusing, but they don’t mean what they literally mean. INFJs are gentle, caring, sophisticated, creative and highly intuitive individuals. According to the Myer-Briggs system of personalities (MBTI), there are sixteen personality categories that one could fall under, and INFJ is one of the rarest types. (The statistic is changing, though. In 2000, they were the rarest)
INFJs are estimated at:
• 1.79% of the American population (sample size 9,320; Myers & McCaulley, 1985)
• 1.7% of the UK population* (sample size 1,634; Kendall & McHenry, 1998)
• 1.27% of the Australian population (sample size 3,373; Macdaid, McCaulley, & Kainz, 1986)
(Source: Oddly Developed Types)
We live in a world dominated by Extroverts and Sensors, as 75% of people are Es, and 75% are Ss.
Due to its rarity, INFJs are often misunderstood. The goal of INFJ therapy/ coaching and potentially INFJ therapy is to craft a unique space for them to discuss their struggles and learn to harness their strengths and creativity.
“Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.”
INFJs are intuitive about human dynamics. INFJs have a heightened awareness of human energies that helps them pick up on the subtlest clues about what’s going on with other people. They have a unique ability to intuit others’ emotions and motivations, and will often know how someone else is feeling before that person knows it themselves. Sometimes INFJs will have hunches or gut feelings they can’t explain. The INFJs’ extraordinary empathic abilities can be so strong that it brings pain in certain situations. They can walk in another person’s shoes truly, and many identify as being hyper-empathic, to the degree where others’ distress can profoundly affect them.
When feeling overwhelmed, they might withdraw into themselves, sometimes abruptly and desperately. They find comfort in solitude and must replete their inner resources and prevent emotional overload.
As someone who is an INFJ type, you often wish for someone to understand you as well as you know others.
INFJs are naturally trusting, open, and curious towards others. Your genuine warmth, interest in and openness mean you are sometimes mistaken for being an extravert.
But you are not drawn to shallow encounters or situations that take lots of small talk. In a setting like a cocktail party with people you hardly know, you may enjoy more by retreating into your mind and your rich inner world. On the surface, you can seem mysterious, aloof, and reserved. However, deep inside, INFJs are capable of deep intimacy. You may not share yourself freely with strangers but appreciate closeness with a select few.
Many INFJs feel alienated during their childhood and teen years. INFJs are “old souls.” Even as children and adolescents, you might be counselling and consoling people around you— friends, siblings, and sometimes even adult family members.
One of the main goals of INFJ Therapy/ Coaching is to help you identify a fulfilling and rewarding vocation. INFJs tend to be artistic and creative in their endeavours. You are inspired by ideas, perspectives, theories, and think in terms of images, symbols, and metaphors. In fact, INFJs are just as much “systems builders” as their ‘intellectual’ counterparts INTJ. But INFJs are more interested in building systems that concern human psychology and humanitarian issues rather than hard science, logic, math, and technology.
Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weighty matters of life. With their “N” and “J” combination, you are capable of both vision and action and make strong humanitarians. Famous compassionate and effective INFJ game-changers include Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa.
INFJ individuals are often emotionally gifted. This does not always lay an easy path, but when you can harness your strengths and own your unique qualities such as great emotional depth, intellectual complexity, and drive to make a difference in the world, you are capable of enormous personal, professional and spiritual achievement. This is the goal of INFJ Therapy/ Coaching.
Famous INFJs include Mohandas Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Emily Bronte, Carl Jung, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Florence Nightingale, Shirley MacLaine, Jimmy Carter, and Edward Snowden.
“He who obeys, does not listen to himself!”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
Why INFJs Sometimes Struggle in Therapy and Coaching
As an INFJ, you may have experienced moments of frustration in your quest for self-understanding, often feeling like you’re one step ahead of the advice you receive from others, including therapists. It’s a common struggle for many of this personality type, and it can leave you wondering if there’s a unique approach to therapy and self-discovery that truly resonates with your needs.
Many INFJs expressed how they often find themselves thinking, “I already knew that” when receiving advice or insights from therapists or well-meaning friends and family. You read a lot, avidly plow through the internet for answers, and have already reflected deeply on your past and present. Unlike more extroverted types, deep introspection is a core part of your life. You may feel like therapy or coaching is not bringing anything new to what you are naturally already doing. This feeling can be perplexing and even discouraging, especially when seeking help for emotional and mental well-being.
However, therapy and coaching isn’t solely about gaining new insights or answers you haven’t considered before. It’s also about being in, learning to trust, and healing through a relationship, receiving validation (even if it makes you uncomfortable), and finding new ways to approach familiar thoughts and emotions. For example, having the suspicion that your childhood experience ‘may be traumatic’ and having someone acknowledging your pain directly and calling out the trauma and abuse mean something entirely different to your psyche.
The importance of a sense of connection cannot be understated in your journey of self-discovery and healing. INFJs are known for their depth of understanding and empathy, but they may also struggle with vulnerability. If you can find someone you can open up to, that, rather than anything you actually ‘talk about’, might be the most profound force of healing .This might be why many new form of mental health care, such as text-based therapy like Better Help, may feel particularly not helpful and may even exercabate the sense of loneliness and not being understood.
When done right, historically many INFJs find therapy valuable because it provides a safe space for them to express their thoughts and feelings without judgment. The act of talking through their experiences can be therapeutic in itself, offering a sense of validation and connection. Therapy or coaching isn’t necessarily about gaining entirely new insights but about finding a fresh perspective on issues you’ve already contemplated. A external eye, especially when you feel they can really ‘get you’, can help you reframe your thoughts and feelings in a way that allows for growth and healing.
Essentially, as an INFJ, you may have a unique way of approaching coaching and self-discovery. While you may often feel like you’ve already explored all possible solutions, remember that life is not just about finding answers but about the journey of personal growth and fostering deep connection. If you can embrace the process, you may discover new facets of yourself.
INFJ Therapy and Coaching
Different personality types have different strengths and weaknesses. For people with the INFJ personality type within the MBTI matrix, the main strengths include their sensitivity around their close loved ones and the entire world, deep empathy for others’ pain, creativity and loyalty in relationships. The downside is that they can be judged as being overly sensitive, standoffish towards people they’re not interested in, and quick to avoid confrontation.
INFJs are Introverted (they get energy from being alone as opposed to from being with others), Intuitive (they’re good at seeing patterns and potential futures), Feeling (they prioritize people’s emotions), and Judging (they’re planners and fans of order over chaos).
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and the real mark of our character is how we come to terms with that and use our strengths and weaknesses to our advantage. The goal of INFJ therapy is to help you heal from the wound of being called ‘too much’, ‘too sensitive’, etc. The goal of INFJ Coaching is to help you move past the baggages of shame and self-doubt and learn to be proud of the person that you are.
With the help of a sensitive and empathic guide, the work with you as an INFJ to go from healing to thriving involves the following:
INFJ Therapy and Coaching can help you look at your life holistically
INFJs are highly introspective and aware, but because your worldview tends to be self-referencing and you spend a lot of time in your own imaginary world, sometimes you are too close to your own day-to-day life to see the metaphorical forest for the trees. An external eye can provide some objective input and help you understand how the different elements of your life and personality all come together to paint a bigger picture. For instance, difficulties in relationships relate not just to that relationship but also to your general satisfaction in life, your family history, the trauma you carry, etc. Once one element within the system is elevated, you will be able to feel a shift in all other areas, too.
INFJ Therapy and Coaching can teach you to make friends with your emotions
As a sensitive human, you absorb emotions from around you and may sometimes struggle with intense feelings. Not being able to digest challenging feelings effectively may also cause you to act out in ways you later regret. With the guidance of someone knowledgeable about emotional management and empathy towards the origin of your strong feelings, you can learn to befriend and digest these feelings. Your emotions are not your enemies. They are a portal to your intuition and power. With the reminder of a supportive guide, you can learn to have a different relationship with your feeling self.
INFJ Therapy and Coaching may encourage you to find your life’s purpose
Above and beyond other personality types, INFJs crave meaning and purpose, which can lead to a negative spiral if you cannot find a mission to focus on. It’s incredibly essential for you to feel as though you are a part of something bigger than yourself— socially and spiritually. Without a higher meaning, you may feel stifled, stilted.
Hopefully, you can learn to love yourself.
INFJs often have a hard time loving themselves, even though there’s so much to the personality type to be loved. You may live with the trauma of being misunderstood and pushed to the side and live with a harsh inner critic. As well as encouraging you to bring out your positive attributes and to find new ways to cope with the negatives, our goal in coaching or therapy is to help you to love yourself for who you are. This includes taking time out to care for your mental and physical health and learn when and how to say goodbye to people who repeatedly and insensitively hurt or misjudge you.
Effective Therapy and Coaching can nudge you towards Self- Actualisation.
INFJs live with a desire to constantly better themselves and to develop as a person. A coach who knows you and works alongside you can pay close attention to what makes you feel fired up and provide insights and observations to help you to work on areas where you struggle. Most INFJs are independent thinkers have strong views and opinions, even when you keep these opinions to yourself to avoid hurting anyone. One of our goals in coaching and consulting is to help you own your voice, develop a unique way of expressing yourself, without the excessive fear of criticism and rejections. When you are able to clarify your values and beliefs, you also feel stronger as a person.
The goal is to stop you from being held hostage to your fears
INFJs are often held back because they’re perfectionists who take criticism to heart. They also have high expectations, both for themselves and for others. If you fall victim to a negativity loop, you can end up failing to take opportunities because you’re so scared about what might happen that you choose not to risk it. When this occurs, you can end up in a downward spiral. With a compassionate coach, you can learn to turn that spiral around. If you can allow yourself to learn, not just cognitively but also deep in your heart, that it is safe for you to take risks and to shine as you are, you will be able to achieve more in life and simultaneously feel free and confident.
INFJ Therapy/ Coaching celebrates you so you can learn to do it for yourself
Because INFJs are often so tough on themselves, they tend to downplay your achievements and to immediately move on to whatever the next task is. This is understandable, but it can also be counterproductive. Celebrating achievements can release endorphins and ensure you’re not left feeling empty instead of accomplished. It can be helpful for you to be surrounded by people and loved ones who can help you to celebrate your achievements. With enough practice, you will have trained your brain to automatically give yourself the applause you need, which could become a valuable, lifelong pattern.
A Caveat About Typology
Contrary to a common misconception, typology is not about putting people in boxes.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI) system is rooted in the theory of psychological types developed by Carl Jung. However, Jung’s ideas have become diluted and are often misused in modern-day psychology and the internet.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicators aren’t everything. They’re simply what their name describes: indicators. Humans are inherently complex, and one of us is just one thing. Jung’s theory does not aim to ‘pigeon-hole’ people into types. His original idea emphasizes the unconscious more than is represented within modern psychometrics and ‘commercialised’ personality systems.
When used correctly, MBTI and other personality typologies are great tools to help us integrate various parts of our psyche, heal where we have been wounded, and attain inner balance.
The MBTI system not only helps us to know our ‘dominant function’, but also what we have suppressed or under-utilised. Repression of any of our psychic functions, due to our social conditioning holds us back from our full potential. Awareness that we all possess certain unconscious, under-developed functions is the first step towards realizing that they can be developed, both for better adaptation to the outer world and for balancing our psyche.
INFJs are Ideal Candidates for Personal Development Work
INFJs typically share attributes such as intuition, empathy, emotional understanding, and deeply held beliefs which can occasionally be tinged with idealism and obsession. INFJs are also planners, typically preparing for things as far in advance as possible so that nothing’s left to the last minute and everything is accounted for.
This can only be a good thing regarding therapy/ coaching and personal improvement. In fact, above and beyond other personality types, INFJs have the means and the motivation to picture the future and then make it happen, whether by improving themselves or by effecting change in the world around them.
If you’re one of the lucky few with an INFJ personality type, you have a lot of potential to be a driving force for good in the world.
You have the right to love yourself, be proud of who you are, and thrive as an integrated, confident person.
Who looks outside, Dream. Who looks inside, Awake. – Carl Jung
Things you may find helpful as an INFJ
Imi Lo is a consultant and published author with extensive and international experience in mental health and psychotherapy. Her books Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity and The Gift of Intensity are available worldwide and in multiple languages. Imi has two Master’s degrees; one in Mental Health and one in Buddhist Studies. She works holistically, combining psychological insights with Eastern and Western philosophies such as Buddhism and Stoicism.