This is a photo that was taken by yesterday's client before our phone clutter busting session. (She was one of the five people that got a free anniversary session). She was distraught and overwhelmed that she was living with a closet trash can, and that she couldn't do anything about it.
I said that everything that happened up till this moment didn't matter. Let's just clean it up.
I had her wade into the closet and take the first thing she came upon. She found a camera. Not digital, but one with film. She said her family didn't use them anymore. I asked if she could let the camera go. She got emotional and didn't know what to do. She was worried that she would lose some great photos of her kids. I asked her if she could take the film out so it can be developed. She shut down again when she discovered that the batteries were dead. She wanted to close the closet door and walk away. When a client is overwhelmed, little things collapse their world. They have no reserves to meet their needs.
The best thing I've found to do is to help the clients decide again. It's a jump start so they can get their discriminating abilities back. I asked my client if she could take the camera to a drug store where they could replace the battery and then develop the film. Hearing this made it seem possible. She agreed.
The next item was an unopened Light-Bright game. It was a birthday present that her daughter received two years ago. My client shut down again. She was feeling badly that the game had been in the closet for so long. She also didn't want to let her daughter know about the game because her daughter's room looked like the closet. My client wanted to close the closet door and walk away again.
I said that holding onto things that we're not actually using is like trying to swim while holding onto an anchor. You sink to the bottom of the sea. I said let's trust that since her daughter hadn't opened up the Light-Bright and played with it, she doesn't want to. Since it wasn't being used, it could be donated. My client got her bearings back and said she'd donate the Light-Bright to Toys for Tots.
We went through one item after another. When we were done, she had thrown out six bags of garbage. Then she went out on her own and dropped off donations and the camera. Then she sent me this picture.