Around the middle of the 20th Century, Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers made the insights and benefits of Jung’s model accessible to laypeople by creating the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®. This simple questionnaire-based tool allows anyone to explore the gifts and challenges of their own personality type. The MBTI® personality inventory has since been used effectively in career counseling, military officer and police training, curriculum design, psychological counseling, organizational development, and many other arenas for over 75 years. It is used by millions of people around the world every year; and is the most thoroughly scientifically validated assessment of normal personality in existence.

When we complete an MBTI questionnaire, our responses are interpreted in terms of the “reported type” that is indicated by our responses. It is then up to each individual, with the help of their trained type professional, to either confirm that type as an accurate description of how they operate or to explore alternatives to arrive at their “true type.”

The sixteen possible types are expressed as four-letter “type codes.” The first letter is either an E (for Extraversion) or an I (for Introversion) and describes the individual’s primary “energy orientation.” Are they most comfortable and energized when interacting with their surroundings or when focusing inward? The second letter is an S (Sensing) or an N (Intuiting) and identifies the person’s preferred mode for taking in and processing information. This acts like an attention-filtering mechanism, and results in individuals noticing and trusting certain kinds of perceptions and overlooking or dismissing other kinds of information. Next comes either a T (Thinking) or an F (Feeling), which identifies their preferred way of making decisions. Finally, a P (Perception) or a J (Judgment) identifies their preferred approach to interacting with their environment: either through information-gathering or through decision-making. The internal dynamics of personality limit the ways that these elements can work and align within us; thus creating an array of sixteen possible basic personality types: ISTJ, ISFJ, INFJ, INTJ, ISTP, ISFP, INFP, INTP, ESTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, ENTJ, ESTP, ESFP, ENFP, and ENTP.

In creating the MBTI code, Briggs and Myers distilled the essence of a complex psychological theory in order to put it to practical use on a broad scale. An unfortunate side-effect of their success is that most people, including even some professional type practitioners, take its easily understood surface-level insights to be all that it has to offer. In actuality, the initial feedback session in which MBTI assessment results are discussed can be a doorway to a profoundly transformational learning and growth experience. It is important that one work with the right MBTI professional. Check their credentials and references and confirm that they are MBTI “Certified.”