In my counselling practice, I welcome clients at the doorway of the counselling venue. For some, it’s their first time coming to counselling. Others have crossed the threshold many times. It’s important to me to provide a warm and accepting welcome at the doorway each and every time.
And, this with January 2023 fast approaching, my thoughts and reflections have turned to doorways in a more general sense. I’m reminded that the month of January is named after the Roman god Janus. The Romans regarded Janus as the god of the doorway, occupying the threshold between the year past and the year head. According to ancient Roman mythology, Janus is the deity of endings and new beginnings. Ancient statues depicting Janus show him with two sets of eyes, one to the front of his face and another pair to the back of his head. In this way, Janus looks both forwards and backwards, reflecting on the past whilst also contemplating the future. Perhaps you find yourself at this time of year – at the gateway to a new year – looking back over the previous year as well as forwards into a new year.
At the threshold of the New Year, many of us find ourselves looking back and connecting with regret, loss and disappointment. You may be reminded of hopes that didn’t come to fruition or fulfilment or where you’ve been let down in some way? Hopefully, there’s also a recognition of the things you’ve learnt over the past year and the progress you’ve made. And, as the New Year approaches and we enter through the doorway of 2023, like so many others, you may find yourself looking forwards with hopes and dreams about the year ahead, imagining new possibilities, and new ways of being. Fear about the future can also be part of the mix. It’s no surprise then, that many people consider speaking with a counsellor as a New Year dawns.
And the process of counselling and psychotherapy can, in itself, be a form of crossing a threshold. I am mindful that as we work together, I am invited to cross the doorway into my client’s world. Clients open up about their world, their thoughts and their feelings. Sometimes tentatively, sometimes more directly, clients allow me through the various doorways that mark the edges of their world and their experience. It is important we go at the pace that feels right for you. I tread gently and with respect. Some doors are bolted tightly shut for very good reason. Establishing safety and a place where people feel okay about choosing which doors to open, and which to leave closed, is an important part of the work. Together, we may look at the past. Some doors lead to past childhood memories and experiences. Other doors may lead towards a hoped-for or even a feared-for future. It’s important too, to stand and linger in the doorway, and note how it feels to be here, in this moment, in the here-and-now and we consider the different doorways of life. Perhaps there is excitement, or fear, or apprehension, or curiosity? Perhaps memories of being shut out, or having doors closed to us begin to bubble up? Perhaps we begin to recall and connect with the feelings of rushing through some past doorways. All emotions and experiences are welcomed in counselling we contemplate the threshold of entering into discovering more about what it is like to be you, and feel the feelings you experience.
So, doorways offer scope for all sorts of adventures and explorations. As the doorway and gateway to a new year approaches, one of my hopes is that I can continue to offer a warm and accepting welcome at the physical doorway of the counselling space I work from. And, my wish for you, too, is that you can find spaces and ways to get what you need from reflecting on your past and looking ahead to your future.