Linda Berens

In Brief

Linda-330-cropped-V2-125Linda V. Berens, Ph.D. is a human and organizational development practitioner who has been teaching professionals since 1982 as well as helping individuals and teams recognize their strengths, transcend their weaknesses, and work together better. After founding Interstrength Associates (formerly known as Temperament Research Institute), a corporate consulting and training organization, she turned her attention to developing a more complete and integrated look at individual differences through the Integral framework. She recently created the Linda Berens Institute, which offers a full curriculum for practitioners and personal development coaching as well as consulting services. Linda is recognized internationally for her theoretical contributions to the field of psychological type and for developing user-friendly training materials for practical application of understanding individual differences.She is the author or co-author
of multiple books and training materials.

In addition to holding a license as a California Marriage and Family Therapist and a doctorate in psychology, she also holds certification as a Holacracy Facilitator and in Integral Transformative Leadership from Pacific Integral and the LIOS Graduate College at Saybrook University.

In Detail—Coach, Organizational Consultant, Educator, Author

I learned about psychological type in my Masters degree in Counseling and quickly became active in the Association for Psychological Type in 1980. I served as Western Regional President and was on the board of the Western Region between 1980 and 1989. In 2012, I accepted the role of President Elect of the Association for Psychological Type International and currently serve as President.

I founded Temperament Research Institute or TRI in 1988 to provide a source for solid information about individual differences. In 2005, TRI was renamed to Interstrength Associates and it was the premier source for research, education, applications and training support for the understanding of individual differences and change facilitation using applications of Temperament Theory, Jung’s theory of psychological types and the Berens Interaction Styles Model. Interstrength Associates became internationally recognized as a provider of exceptional Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Qualifying Programs as well as training in advanced applications of the works of Carl Jung, Isabel Myers, and David Keirsey.

As President of Interstrength Associates, I made it my goal to attract training, coaching, and organizational development professionals who are experts in their own fields such as leadership, teams, communication, training, coaching, counseling, and creativity to become faculty for Interstrength Associates and to develop applications of the study of individual differences to those fields.
Licensed in California as a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist (currently inactive status) and an Educational Psychologist I have worked with the theory of personality types since 1975. Over the last 15 years, I conducted extensive qualitative research into the characteristics of the sixteen personality types and the four temperaments. As a result of this research, I integrated the work of Carl Jung, David Keirsey and a theory of living systems into a methodology for helping people understand themselves and others, placing myself and my associates on the leading edge of work in this field. In my most recent work I refined the popular social styles theory to see patterns of interaction styles. This recent addition places me as a leading contributor to the study of individual differences.
I have conducted thousands of training programs in this theory and its applications to counseling, education, career development and organizational development. I qualified (now called Certified) over 2500 people to purchase the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® assessment and am frequently called upon to be the consultant’s consultant.  I have trained and consulted with professionals in a wide range of companies.
I am the author or co-author of multiple books and training materials, including the groundbreaking, web-based self-discovery workshop—Interstrength® Explorer Series and the following books

Understanding Yourself and Others®: An Introduction to the 4 Temperaments, 4.0

Understanding Yourself and Others®: An Introduction to Interaction Styles, 2.0

Dynamics of Personality Type: Understanding and Applying Jung’s Cognitive Processes

The 16 Personality Types: Descriptions for Self-Discovery

Understanding Yourself and Others®: An Introduction to the Personality Type Code

The I in TEAM

Quick Guide to the 16 Personality Types in Organizations

Quick Guide to the 16 Personality Types and Teams

Quick Guide to Interaction Styles and Working Remotely

Working Together: A Personality-Centered Approach to Management

My Work

You could say I’m an expert in type theory and I would say that the learning about type never stops. I love sharing what I know and teaching others. I especially love working with teams and organizations to help them install this body of knowledge as a language that transforms the team and the organization.

I’d love to explore how we might engage. You can reach me at linda (at) lindaberens.com. Here are a few of the areas in which I’m available to work.

Coaching

  • Personal and Performance
  • Teams and Team Development
  • Professional Type Practitioners on the Interstrength Method

Cultural Initiatives

  • Cultural Improvement through Type as a Language
  • Organizational Change Initiatives
Additionally, I am available to train, certify, and coach on use and applications of the Interstrength Method.

Some highlights of my career have been . . .

  • Working with incredibly gifted and caring professionals as co-creators and collaborators
  • Working with whole organizations such as Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital installing Temperament Theory as a basis to improve communication and having that work go on long after we left.
  • Seeing my work carried on and applied in ways that will have a positive impact on organizations and the people in them and maybe even the world

My Personal Story

Well, this is really a story of key people in my life as well as of my career. I have always found that people are attracted to working with me and on the vision of making type knowledge growth producing as well as useful. I’m often sad when they move one, but I know we have both been enriched by the work together. I may have left some people out and so this story may be edited from time to time as I remember to acknowledge those people. My story is long and I put it here for those of you who want to know more about me as a person as well as my path.
I’ve been a wife for more than 46 years, a mother of two, a grandmother of six, an author, an educator, a coach, and a consultant. I’ve been a student of individual differences, especially psychological type, since 1975. I was always going to be a teacher, but I never dreamed I’d be the kind of teacher I am now.

Early Decisions

I grew up in a small town in Kansas. I couldn’t live there now, but in retrospect it was a good place to grow up. After thinking I might become a psychiatrist, my decision to become a teacher firmed up during my senior year in my small high school (134 students). I decided I’d become an English teacher since it was in that class that I felt the pain of having a non-reader in the class along with those of us who were college bound. I wanted to make things better for the non-reader. Why I thought being a high school English teacher could have helped him at that point, I don’t know, but off I went to Kansas University. I wasn’t prepared for university English and I struggled. But in French I got A’s and I loved the process of learning a language. And I realized I didn’t really like high school age ‘kids’. So I decided I’d teach French to elementary students. Then I got married and my husband and I moved to California. Too late to switch to Spanish, but I finished my bachelors degree in French. Fortunately for me, we lived in Belgium a year and a half where I practiced my French daily. Then I went on for my elementary teaching credential. After another stay in Belgium, giving birth to our son, and living in Germany for a while, we came back to California. I finally taught—10 days (as a substitute!)– and decided that elementary school teaching was not for me. By this time, our daughter was born.

Life Shaping Masters Degree

I decided to pursue a Masters Degree in Counseling to become an elementary school counselor. I fell into a program chaired by Marilyn Bates and architected by David Keirsey. It was a very different and practical program in that the focus was on “what does the therapist do?” instead of just theory. We learned 15 therapeutic techniques and the theories about why they worked, and we had to demonstrate competence in them. We also learned various theories about pathology, and in that class four of the 18 sessions were about the pathology of each of four temperaments. The last 20 minutes of class was spent on what they looked like when they were normal. We learned about systems theory as well and I was hooked. I volunteered at the free clinic so I got practice working.

Early Professional Work

I worked as a school counselor for one school term. I taught in my old masters program as a coach and lecturer. I taught community college courses and I got a job as an intern school psychologist while I was finishing the school psychology credential. During that time I finished my Marriage and Family Counseling license requirements with Dr. Kathleen Nader as a supervisor. I also got heavily involved in the start up of the Association for Psychological Type and began to do workshops on type at conferences and in my school psychologist role.
When I was ‘budgeted out’ of the school psychology job, my first order of business was to finish my doctorate. And I decided to take ‘type’ to the business world with Sue Cooper in a partnership. I would also have a small private therapy practice. In 1987 Louise Giovanonni, Sue Cooper, and I wrote a little workbook called Introduction to Temperament. I started Telos Publications to publish it.

Starting an Organization

The partnership dissolved and my next step was to start Temperament Research Institute to bring Keirsey’s temperament theory to the world. I decided the ‘universe’ needed an organization to spread the teachings of David Keirsey’s temperament theory. There was so much more than was published in his book, Please Understand Me. I had a huge mind map of all the domains where it would be useful—schools, families, organizations and more. About that time, I was asked to draft a workbook for managers by Olaf Isachsen. I suggested we make it a book and the result was Working Together, a Personality Centered Approach to Management. Olaf provided the business slant and the categories of interest and I wrote the theory background and the basic descriptions, then we filled them out together. The book is still popular, although I have a richer understanding of each of the types now.
Then Alice Fairhurst joined me and we started training other professionals in temperament and type. Alice moved on to JPL. I developed an experiential workshop with Liz Post and Michael Felts and I learned so much from them and the experience. A little after that, a friend, Cheryl Eckstrom pushed me to see if I could get the license to do MBTI® qualifying programs. I got the go ahead, but my friend and colleague, Margaret Hartzler, invited me to work with her in the Type Resources program, which I did for three years. During that time, I had the great opportunity of doing at least 12 trainings a year, some in Australia. It was an exciting time. I got to spend 30 minutes of each training focused on each of the 16 types so I got a really good feel for what each of them looks like as a whole type. Margaret and Gary Hartzler were deeply exploring the work of John Beebe looking at the eight mental processes as filling archetypal roles in each type. Groundbreaking stuff! And during that time, Stephanie Rogers worked with me and had the vision for us to craft first person descriptions based on interviews. Stephanie conducted interviews and editing the 40 pages for each type down to 20 pages.

Pivotal Changes

In 1994, just after the Northridge Earthquake, I conducted an MBTI Qualifying program with only seven attendees. In that program were three people who were to become major collaborators and contributors to the work. Linda Ernst and Melissa Smith took process notes and content notes in different colors and I asked why. As professional instructional designers and trainers of trainers they talked with me about creating a Facilitator’s Guide. Near the end of 1994, I had decided to stop doing the Type Resources Qualifying Program to focus on the method we were developing for self-discovery. We began working together along with another early qualifying program participant, Judy Robb, to create the first ever scripted lesson plans with color transparencies. It was a huge learning experience and yielded what is now a nearly 500 page Facilitators Guide with animated PowerPoint files. In 1995 we finished the Guide and decided to offer a training to go with it. Then why not add in Qualification in the MBTI? So we were on a new path of teaching people how to use Temperament and Type Dynamics with the MBTI and gave them a Facilitator’s Guide to help them.
The third person in that pivotal workshop was Dario Nardi. We had some ideas about developing a computerized self-discovery process and so did Dario. We worked on that together for a while. This began a long history of collaboration with Dario as a theory partner and co-author. He and I finished the research and composition of the type descriptions in 1998, which led to The Sixteen Personality Types, Descriptions for Self Discovery.
In the meantime, Telos Publications had been operating as a small publisher of temperament based training materials. Then in 1996, I hired Kris Kiler to work in the organization and with his talent Telos grew, starting with a major overhaul of that first booklet into Understanding Yourself and Others, an Introduction to the 4 Temperaments, the first of about 25 titles published by Telos.

Sole Proprietor to Corporation

The work continued as my daughter, Stephanie, added her catalytic energy and relationship skills to the effort. It evolved into what became known as The TRI Methodology, which used multiple models in a process of self-discovery. I had expanded on Keirsey’s work with temperament theory and was developing what became Interaction Styles. Several of the participants in our workshops hired us on to help integrate and apply temperament theory and psychological type into their organizations. Stephanie Berens-Kiler and Kris Kiler had the idea to start 16types.com to leverage the internet, so I spun off the product sales and the publishing into a corporation. In 2001, 16types.com was launched and I also launched Interaction Styles with the publication of Understanding Yourself and Others, An Introduction to Interaction Styles. Then in 2003, we added Temperament Research Institute (as TRI) into the corporation. During that time, my role was to be chief architect and I was freed from ‘running’ a business so I could  create and deliver services. We put together a faculty, changed the name to Interstrength Associates and continued the work of refining and developing the Methodology and a product architecture for training services. In 2007, it was time for Kris to move on and do his own work with type and with marketing, so I took over running the corporation with the support of Linda Ernst and the working knowledge of Erin Neighbor. We developed and launched the first ever on-line self-discovery workshops (Temperament Explorer and Interaction Styles Explorer) in 2008. December 2008 saw our last MBTI Qualifying Program. We had changed our focus at the same time the MBTI publisher changed its strategy of having diverse trainings to having uniform certification trainings. In 2010, it was time for me to leave the role of running a business, and given the economy and the challenges of publishing, the corporation ceased operations. I moved the books I’ve authored and co-authored to Dario Nardi’s publishing business, Radiance House, and was onto the next stage of my journey.

What’s Next?

I have not retired! I doubt I’ll ever stop working. I intend to write a few more books, do some research, develop more products, do some coaching, do some consulting, and continue to certify others in the latest iteration of the Interstrength Method.
I’ve become increasing convinced that when we use typologies alone without awareness of other influences such as ego development and the contexts of culture and larger systems we are likely to be missing the mark and even do harm. I’ll continue the work with the Interstrength Method and working with an international network of faculty teaching others to use it. And I will be engaging in other application arenas such as optimal health, Holacracy, and something I call Integral Type.
Again one of my students, Brian Robertson, had a major impact on my life path. I had been doing work with the software development company he started. He installed the Interstrength Method into his organization from the beginning. I was very pleased to be a part of that work since he had me come there to get new hires clear on their best fit type and to do individual, team, and even executive coaching. Brian set out to build an organization that was profitable while being a healthy place to work that met the needs and used the talents of all 16 types. In the process, a new ‘operating system’ for organizations emerged. Brian, along with Alexia Bowers and Tom Thomison, founded an organization, HolacracyOne, to continue to develop this system and to teach it to others. I plan to support this work in any way I can.
What is next for me on my path???? Stay tuned for new developments.

The Time is Now

I’ve formed Linda Berens Institute to make the powerful knowledge of self and others more widely available and the ‘secrets’ of the best practices available on the web. While web-based learning is here to stay, it still cannot replace live workshops that help us see how type shows up in our day to day lives as we interact with others so Certification still requires participation in the live workshops. The Interstrength Method has evolved into the Berens CORE™ Approach, which includes practices and processes for developing the self-leadership that is fundamental to surviving and thriving in our complex world.