The first therapy session is the hardest. How do you start? If you’re like most people who come to therapy, things have probably been on your mind for a long time. Most of the time, it’s never any one thing that brings people in, and many people try to handle things on their own. Maybe you’ve ignored the things that have gone on. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself it's nothing and you’re overreacting. Maybe you’ve even gone so far as to talk about things to someone in your life who has offered you some well-meaning advice: “Shake it off” (a la Taylor Swift), go to the gym, go out on a date, try listening to so-and-so motivational speaker, so on and so forth. Maybe you have tried some self-help books or have found yourself in a labyrinth of internet suggestions that all contradict themselves. Eventually, you decide to find a therapist, someone to just help you find some clarity, some inner peace, to help you not feel so lost inside. By the time you finally call one and make the appointment, there is so much going through your mind. Where do you start? What do you say? It’s overwhelming. I get it. Sometimes therapy might even feel somewhat mechanical when you come in and I ask you lots of questions, almost like an interrogation. As the words start coming out of your mouth feelings begin bubbling up and you start wondering all kinds of stuff: “Can I make a joke? Is that allowed here?” (Yes!) “Do I sound crazy? Does he/she think I’m crazy? I bet she does.” (Nope) “She’s writing down right now that I’m crazy (no, I’m just trying to make sure I remember everything you said). “I wish I could read what she’s writing down. Wait, did I answer that right?” (I’m just keeping up with you, making notes to myself, and there’s no right or wrong. It’s not a test.) And when you leave, you realize that maybe it did/didn’t go exactly as you expected. Yes, you can make a joke. For some reason people keep insisting they have to be serious all the time in my office. Just because you’re healing doesn’t mean you have to be serious! Be you. Be authentic. And no, I’m not writing down that you’re crazy. In my office, I’m trying the best that I can so that I can create plans in my head to help you. I’m empathizing with your story. No matter how many times I’ve had a new person in my chair, I remember and am aware each time of how the experience is and how scary it can be. Not for everyone, but for many people there is a feeling of vulnerability when a story so personal with a stranger. So, how do you start it? Easier than you think. Just tell your story. We take care of the rest.