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The Symbol of the Door in Art Therapy

by Lauren Fallat, MA LPC ATR-BC

A symbol is an object, image or idea that stands for something else and often we use symbols in art to convey emotions, thoughts, perspectives and personal information that may be difficult with just words alone. The symbol of a doorway is a wonderful image that can evoke different thoughts and inquiries surrounding its meaning.

Think about the circumstances in which we encounter doorways, how we interact with them, how they function for us and their purpose. A doorway can serve as a literal and symbolic entryway to new opportunities or a point of closure and blockade. It can serve as a passageway or transition point from one space to another, one point in time to another or one part of our life to another. A doorway could represent a beginning of something, or an ending- the start and finish. A doorway could represent a gateway, a boundary and a point in time. We have a physical relationship with doors. They protect, provide privacy, provide options for closing in or opening up, and heighten our curiosity, sense of wonder and intrigue. There is a desire to connect one side to the other- to both uncover and keep hidden. There is also energy exerted in determining how to open a door and in turn energy to walk through it, to cross over.

In thinking about how we can connect the symbol of a door in a therapeutic way, we can consider what aspects of our lives we are trying to start a new- relationship, decision, career path, transition, behavior, habit, etc. We can consider a door as representing a part of our lives that we are wanting to keep closed, to remain unexplored- a secret, an experience we are ashamed about, or a part of us that no longer serves us. A door is representational of who we are. Think about the quality of a door, the textures, colors, welcoming-nature or guardedness. Think about what type of door would best represent who you are or what you are going through right now.

In an art therapy session, you have the opportunity to expand and creatively engage with these ideas by drawing and designing your own door. You might use a tri folded piece of paper or draw the front of the door on one side and what is behind the door on the backside of the paper. In an art therapy session you can further discuss your door and what elements you added or excluded in order to have it reflect an emotional aspect of your life, a transition that is occurring, or a vision for what you are wanting for yourself in the future.

You may also choose to journal your thoughts and reactions after you have created your doorway and what is behind your door. Think about these questions as you journal:

  1. What was my intention in making this door? How is the outcome similar or different to this intention?

  2. How would I describe this door? (Colors, intensity of the line work, shapes, patterns, textures, elements)

  3. Where would I find a door like this?

  4. Is it new or an older door?

  5. Is this a door that is used frequently or one that is used infrequently?

  6. Who can open this door? Is this door meant to be opened?

  7. How will someone know if they can enter or open this door? Is there a lock or key or code to get in?

  8. Have I seen a door like this before?

  9. What do you imagine is behind a door like this?

  10. What is behind my door?

Please explore our website for more information about Art Therapy at Holistic Health Counseling Center. To make an appointment, click on the Book an Appointment button above.

Also, please visit the Holistic Health Counseling Center website for more information about what we do:


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