As a viewer, it’s hard to resist looking at other people’s “stuff” and comparing ourselves to their situation. Why can’t they see how foolish they are being? Why are they resisting the help that is offered to them? We’re certainly not as bad as they are!
The formula for decluttering/makeover shows is predictable; a shocking mess, a reluctant householder, some tough love and tears, and finally a beautifully made over space, more tears and promises never to clutter it up again. With a new show about to hit our screens, it’s timely to remember why the TV approach to dealing with clutter is poor practice in real life.
It’s Anxiety Producing
Our belongings and our reasons for keeping them are very personal. Being confronted with the contents of our home, arranged like a jumble sale in an offsite location is anxiety producing. Being told we have a short time to choose a small percentage to keep before the rest is carted away for ever, is downright traumatising.
Cost and Logistics
TV makeovers require a massive team of people behind the scenes to pack, move and unpack, renovate and stage the home. The logistics are complex and the cost of an operation of this size is out of reach for the average person.
There is an Absence of Skills Building
People who struggle with clutter often have a long history of disorganisation. They are likely to require ongoing support to build new habits and routines. A fresh start, a few tips and some in your face TV-style therapy is not sufficient to ensure that clutter will not become a problem again.
A client who experienced an industrial clean said that although her space looked lovely, she felt disorientated and the systems that she had worked so hard to establish were dismantled in the process. For her, the rapid transformation marked the start of a downward spiral into severe clutter and chaos.
What is the answer?
The best strategy depends on the urgency of the situation, the client’s willingness and capacity to engage, and the resources available. The Hoarding Home Solutions training details four alternatives to the TV-style rapid clean out. In the real world a graded approach that incorporates behaviour modification and skills building is the best way to achieve lasting results.
There is no harm in enjoying TV makeovers. Just keep in mind that they are made for entertainment, and the chance of creating lasting change through this style of intervention is about as high as finding wedded bliss on Married at First Sight.