What brings you here today? Where to start...
This is typically my opening line for new clients. This question cuts to the core of why this new client is sitting with me today. It allows them the space to offer me, in their own words, what they feel the issues or difficulties are, and what they would like to achieve from therapy. The answers I have been given to this question are individual and unique. Sometimes they are short and to the point, sometimes the story is difficult to recount, and sometimes it needs explaining in much detail and has many layers and levels. Whatever answer I get I know it's the one I needed to hear.
It's a hard thing to start to talk to someone that you don't know, somewhere you've never been, and about things you may not feel comfortable talking about at all. Perhaps it's something you have never said to another or perhaps it's something that you feel you can't talk over with those you know. Although the answers are always different and unique they all generally follow this pattern; "I have a problem with X and I'm not sure how to solve it" or "I know how to solve it but I can't because of Y".
So many people feel stuck, for many different reasons, but stuck all the same. To be stuck is hard and to become unstuck harder still. But the truth is if you keep doing what you have always done, you're always going to get back what you always have. Therapy is (usually) doing something different and will hopefully help you to get to a different place. As a society we are very conditioned to believe that talking is not doing, that thinking is not doing, when they both can be so very taxing. To talk deeply and be heard is not something we practice in society today, it is not common place. To talk and not be judged, whether positively or negatively is powerful and can be liberating. As the client you are excused from considering your therapist's thoughts, feelings, needs and wants. It is a space, held by the therapist, but for you alone. A space for you to explore, examine and deliberate on you and your thoughts, feelings, needs and wants.
Whenever I sit with a new client I appreciate and understand how hard it can be for them to have even attended for that first session. I appreciate how it can feel so much easier to never start, to never open themselves up for the journey and to resist being vulnerable. But I always hold for them the knowledge that if they start that journey, if they take that leap, they can find themselves somewhere new; somewhere freer than where they were; and somewhere much more comfortable for them to live with.
Start where you are, and a therapist will meet you there.