Sometimes, you or your therapist will mention the state of your home or your office, almost as a tangent or an aside, as you work through issues about parents, relationships, boundaries, childhood, memories, and so forth.
Our Things are an important topic because our things often indicate what’s happening in our heads and hearts. Think of clutter, stuff or things (papers, emails, your parents stuff) as symptoms. It’s not just about the Things at all. An all-time favorite book is by Cindy Glovinsky, called Making Peace with Your Things.
The two links below are to help you and your therapist get on the same page as you describe what your home is like. As you’ve no doubt known or are realizing through your hard work with a therapist, each person’s perspective is different, colored by our past, our emotions, our physical and mental health, and so much more. These two approaches, by two leading organizations in the world of chronic disorganization, are ways to get on the same page, speak the same language, and communicate what you really mean to say so that another can understand it.
And I’d like to emphasize that these charts are for all of us. What you see on TV shows is the top end of the spectrum, circumstances designed to get us to pay attention. But in your life, if you feel that things are out of control, then talk about this, before things really get difficult. Please also be aware that hoarding is now its own mental health diagnosis, so having “too much” and having a hoarding diagnosis are not the same thing.
So put “your Things” front and center in your discussions with your therapist. He/she can refer you to a local organizer, and if needed, someone especially trained to work with you if have a chronic, lifelong issue with staying organized. Some organizers organize. Some coach and work on the mindset, skills, behaviors. Some do both. Ask questions to get the right fit.
ICD’s chart (This is a free download. You can get the Clutter-Hoarding Scale itself, or the explanatory booklet).
International OCD Foundation (this is useful, whether or not you have diagnosed OCD)
*Full disclosure: I’m on the Board for the ICD. I accepted the nomination because I believe we serve the client best if we are trained and skilled to work in a collaborative approach, between myself and my client, and also if permitted, among the client, the therapist and me. Because I believe we need specialized education for the complexity of issues our clients face. Because we need to know where the professional line is and know how/when to refer a client to a different, specialized professional. Because of the commitment it takes for us to go through these classes and certifications, commitment to ourselves, our learning and always improving skills for client work.
And because I believe in my clients. They are extraordinary, courageous people to do the work they do to change their lives. I see courage every day.