Kelly, fifty-six, came in with a new tone. Whereas before she had trouble talking about what was on her mind, in this recent session she came in listing her stressors: her elderly father, missing her mother, her difficult daughter, her unsatisfying relationship. I said “it seems like you have a lot of complaints.” She responded, a bit angrily, “isn’t that what I am supposed to do when I come here?” “You certainly can, if you want to, but you do not have to,” I respond. “What do you mean?” She asked. ” I thought I was supposed to tell you all my problems,” she continued. “I thought I was making progress, because before I could not identify my problems, and now I am talking about them.” “Yes, I can see that you have changed in that way. I also see our time together as a canvas, and you are painting a picture of your life. Today, your picture includes a laundry list of your problems,” I said. “What else would I do?” She asked. “You could come here telling me how things have changed for you because you are taking yourself more seriously. You could try to focus on one problem. You could say how much you were looking forward to coming here so that you could release some of your inner tension.” I say. She looked at me in a perturbed way. I continued, “I am not criticizing you, but I am noticing how you are presenting your issues. You are numbering your problems. ” Kelly calmed down. “I am going to have to think about that,” she said. Kelly’s session went from her expressing herself in a new way, to interpersonal tension between us, to a moment of pause and deep thought. The image of a therapeutic session as a canvas rescued the session from a tone of frustration to a new tone of self-reflection.