1. The first session

Chrystine Bennett writes:

Stella hadn’t invited anyone into her home since it disappeared under all the stuff. My visit was a brave leap. We did the tour. She’d thought a lot about what we should do and she wanted to start at the top of the house in her bedroom. Stella said 'I want to start with the tops and bottoms of these wardrobes so we have somewhere to put things.'

It was obvious that she was anxious. Anxious that I would start running riot, anxious that her comfort areas would be invaded. We talked and she said that decisions were the most difficult so I said 'Okay, what don’t you care about? We’ll just do things that you don’t have strong feelings about, that don't require much thought”. "We can get rid of shoes,” she said. She indicated that she preferred being barefoot so it was easy to get rid of shoes.

The bedroom was piled with newspapers and magazines, the latter mostly in their plastic mailing bags. 'I don’t care about them.' Stella said. Right, so I ripped off the plastic and put it in a rubbish bag before handing the magazine to Stella who put it into a recycle bag. This proved to be a very important process for both of us. Stella retained complete control over what was thrown away. At the end, we vacuumed the spaces that we'd cleared, to reclaim the territory, to mark it, to celebrate.

We ended up with nearly a dozen bags of rubbish and recycling. Stella was impressed that we could clear so much clutter without impinging on sensitive areas and that it wasn’t as scary as she thought it might be.

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