If you have had a lot of trauma in your life, then you will want to have a Professional Organizer/Mental Health/Support Worker/Family Member who has knowledge and experience working within a Trauma Informed Approach. It is important to have positive support to help you with your decluttering efforts and to help you to move forward.
What to look for in a Support Person (for the worker and then the client):
Worker: Someone who has an understanding of trauma and the possible causes. You can learn more about the link between Trauma and Chronic Disorganization here A worker should have knowledge of the emotional, physical and psychological responses of an individual especially if they are feeling very overwhelmed.
Client: If you are in crisis, facing eviction or an emergency clean up you are likely not able to focus on what you need to at that time. An informed worker will help you with some calming and grounding strategies, help you to feel in control of what you can and help you to feel comfortable and safe.
Safety and Trustworthiness
Worker: This will take time so it is important to get to know your client and perhaps look for some commonalities. Help the client to become aware of the safety concerns using a harm reduction approach. Let your client know that you are there to help them to create safety and comfort in their living space and to advocate for them if needed. It is important to be concerned and focused on getting to know the client first. Doing what you say you are going to do to help and following through with the client will help you to gain their trust. I love this Maya Angelou quote.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will NEVER forget how you made them feel.”Maya Angelou
Client: Remember this is a relationship that you are working on with your Support Worker and of course trust is going to be very important. This is very personal and emotional work and it will take some time to get to know if you and your Support Worker are a good match. You will know after a number of sessions as to whether you can trust and work with this Person.
Opportunities for Choice, Collaboration, and Connection
Worker: Offer the client options for support and help. Let client know about possible other supports in the community like support groups or other Support Workers ie: mental health. If the client is in an emergency/crisis situation help the client to be aware of where her important things are like medications, purse, wallet and keys, remote control, etc. Encourage and take the lead from your client. They really do know best about their own life.
Client: Get some support for yourself. Join a Support Group for people who are struggling with clutter in person or online. You are not alone. Learn more about yourself and what is underneath the clutter. Start to look at the reasons you save things and why you have difficulty with letting go. You are important and deserve to take this time just for you. You can make positive changes in your life!
Strengths Based and Skill Building
Worker: What is the client doing well? Comment on those positives and build on them if possible. No need to fix anything that is working well. Encourage your client to come up with some ideas and solutions to help to make things work better. Teach and model some new skills that will help client to move forward.
Client: You are the expert in your own life. It is important that you are working with someone who encourages you to take charge of your life. Someone who will listen to your stories about your life and your possessions, support and teach you some new daily living skills and can help you to make those important decisions that you can feel confident about.
Have you had positive experiences with Support Workers and/or friends or family members who have helped you in your home?
Please let us know in the comments……
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This is such practical advice. I have found that finding the right kind of support can be very challenging. Some people are quite loving, but they really lack the right training and can end up (accidentally) making things worse. It is worth the effort to find the right team, even if it takes a bit of trial and error. Simply finding someone who can listen well can be tough!
That is so true Seana. If people are not informed or understand the deeper issues they can cause damage and trust is so easily broken. I think people are so blessed to be able to find or have the perfect people in their court. I always appreciate your comments.
Interesting post. Finding the right support is very important.
Thank you Janet. Yes so true! I have reached out for support personally and have been disappointed. It can be so difficult.
It’s important to realize that not all workers have the same training or personality, so it might take some time and effort to find the right one for you.
So true Janet – thank you for your comment 🙂
Your post is beautiful. I love the dual perspectives you offer from the professional and client point of views. As a professional, it’s essential to know what we are and are not capable of doing, what the professional boundaries are, and when other professionals are better able to give our clients the help they need.
Thank you so much Linda I really appreciate your comment. I know it is hard for clients to find the best professional usually due to lack of resources and finances.
I agree with this practical advice. The conversation about mental health must be present at the initial consultation. This conversation will help the Organizer understand the underlying issues and help the client be heard. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic.
Hi Sabrina, It can be a hard one for sure and needs to be approached in a gentle way. I find that most clients are pretty open about disclosing these issues.
Thanks so much!
I love the way you shared both the client and the worker’s perspectives. It’s so important for someone with a mental health challenge to find a helper with the correct training. Being understanding and empathetic is not enough, though it is also important. I believe it’s also important to work with someone with whom the client feels safe and heard.
So true Diane – of course trust is of the upmost importance when it comes to any of our clients. Thank you for commenting
I really appreciate that you accented the training needed to provide the right kind of support to someone who has experienced trauma. Understanding the role of trauma in both the client’s experience and in the remediation of the clutter situation (re: harm reduction) will make all the difference between success and disappointment. Thank you for bringing this issue to the forefront.
In my experience in most cases trauma is very common when it comes to issues around clutter. Thanks for commenting
Wonderful post to accent that both parties need to be involved in making choices. Sometimes a support worker is assigned to a case and both client and worker need to make the best of it. It is unfortunate when there aren’t options so the worker and client are a better match for the situation. Training is so important so the support worker has learned how to treat each client individually and not as a case.
Thank you Julie – Unfortunately, I know it can be hard to access this type of support. Resources are so limited so if a Professional Organizer is trained with a Trauma Informed Approach it is going to be a great benefit for the client.
I like that you showed both sides here! Transparency about the process from all sides is important.