• On a recent trip to Japan, I visited the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto. I was struck by the beauty of the gates which had been constructed over the centuries as memorials to those who had departed this life. The gates demarcate the entrance to the sacred, or the portal to something regarded with great respect and reverence.

    A colleague pointed out to me that they were gates but that there was no fence. This got me thinking about feeling stuck, or fenced in , as we often do in psychotherapy, trying to escape a condition or set of circumstances that stymies us. Often the feeling of being stuck is just that, a feeling, and the fence or wall that seems impenetrable is a creation of our thinking. So, the imagined fence keeps us trapped. If we can imagine a gate, a portal through the impenetrable problem, then perhaps we can move past it, into a better future.

    This sacred psychological space beyond the present is our new understanding of what had previously kept us stuck. These breakthrough moments of enlightenment or inspiration are priceless as they help us leave behind what had previously kept us stuck.

    In working with my clients, I'm always looking for the next gate, the way past an insurmountable obstacle, that allows us to enter this new space, wide-eyed and excited to explore it in ways that could not have been imagined previously.