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What happens in the first encounter has long been recognized as crucial to psychotherapeutic work. This is especially true when working with adolescents, whose preconceived ideas about psychiatric treatment and therapist are often less than positive. Adolescents seen in public mental health settings present particular challenges, as these youngsters have often had negative experiences with therapy. The author presents his own strategies for creating an atmosphere in which some of the adolescent patients negative expectations can be countered and a sense of hope created that the encounter with the therapist can lead to an alliance that will eventually have a positive outcome.