The Messy Desk

The Messy Desk teaser
The use of metaphors can be an effective tool in finding common ground in a therapeutic relationship. The Messy Desk is a helpful way to describe the process of therapy. 

Imagine that your mind is like a messy desk. Each bit of information and event you have engaged with over your life is another document that is placed on your desk. Some are small and others may be large heavy documents. Over time our desks can fill-up with many of these documents all waiting for us to do something with them.

A common way of people dealing with their messy desk is to take a break and ignore the mess – so we go to the tearoom and grab a snack. This can manifest itself in our lives as coping strategies such as going for a run or listening to music or less healthy strategies such as watching TV or having a drink of wine. The problem with having a break is that the documents are still waiting for us when we come back from our break and often have brought along some friends.

Having a messy desk becomes an issue when someone asks you to find them a document. If your desk is messy this can become an overwhelming process which will often lead to more stress. What we need to do is regularly clean our desks and file these documents away in the appropriate place. Then is someone was to ask us to retrieve a document it would be a simple case of opening up the filing cabinet and accessing it.

When people come to therapy sometimes their desks are very messy and they may find the process of cleaning them by themselves very overwhelming. This is where we can create space to process these documents together and file them away effectively. Some of the larger files may take more time and support in clearing away.

However, we have many competing demands and stimuli in our lives so documents are continuously added to our desks.  Because of this therapy may also be a process of learning how to clean your desk yourself. A therapist may teach you the skills to know when your desk is getting too messy and how to do your own filing so as that your desk stays in manageable state.

The process of therapy is a collaborative one. And whilst people are accessing treatment from professionals for specific issues, the client is the only one aware of what documents are on their desks and what needs filing. The Messy Desk serves as a reminder that we all need to do some filing from time to time. 

360 Health + Community have a team of mental health clinicians across the state to help with a range of mental health concerns, or if you just want to have a chat. Contact us on 1300 706 922 to book an appointment.

Chris Darmody
360 Health + Community
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