Can you really ‘cure’ agoraphobia, erectile dysfunction or stifling marriages by switching or ditching your soft furnishings and giving your home a thorough deep clean?
Highgate’s Hannah Jackson, says you can with the aid of her self-help book-cum-cleaning manual, Homes, which is full of case studies of people who Jackson says have done just that.
“The definition of Homes is the moving of ornaments, pictures and furniture, people and space to cause transformation and create new ways of living and being,” says Jackson.
“I use people’s living rooms to help them transform their lives.”
A bold claim. But not as bold as some of the claims in Jackson’s book, which range from a depressed Kurdish lawyer who was persuaded to leave her marriage and became a singing sensation in her country of origin, just by making a few simple changes in her home, to the impotent man with broken knobs (seriously) throughout his house who fixed the doorknobs and thereby fixed his life.
Of course it’s not quite that simple. For starters there’s a ‘talking cure’ element to Hannah Jackson’s trademarked method, which can involve either regular sessions with a group of friends, known as a ‘house therapy circle’, or, in more serious cases, professional psychotherapy.
“House Therapy helps close the revolving door of therapy,” says Jackson. “I believe no matter how much you do outside the home, your stable place is your space.
“For example if you have a weight issue the likelihood is you’ll have cupboards that are full of things you shouldn’t be eating but, if you get rid of all the cookie jars and all the things you used to have, your space will reflect the work you’re doing outside.
“I’ve had clients who have lost weight without going on a diet, just by changing things in their homes.”
Jackson’s special skill is that she can ‘read’ rooms, a bit like a fortune teller, and diagnose remedies to any personal issues, something she’s been practising informally ever since she was a child accompanying her housekeeping grandmother on jobs aged four.
She continued to diagnose home-based solutions to people slightly more formally through her deep cleaning business, Spotless Organic, which she ran successfully until the breakdown of her marriage proved the catalyst for her own total life change.
Armed with a little defensive scepticism, I’ve brought a photo of my own home to get analysed.
Before looking at the picture she asks if there are any issues in my life I would like to resolve. Like many journalists I mention financial stability as a bit of a bugbear.
She takes one look at the room and prescribes glitz – even just a cushion on a particularly tired chair, some curtains and to make our dining table a real feature of the room, somewhere to enjoy spending time.
It’s a weirdly exposing undertaking showing a stranger a photo of your home and allowing them to critique it and I explain that the chair’s just waiting to be upholstered.
Jackson waves my comment away: “House Therapy is about doing something now.”
She also advises using my best cutlery and crockery all the time, and then flatters me by telling me I’m clearly a not a massive shopaholic but am a mindful buyer, something I do quite pride myself on.
My scepticism is swept away. I can see how all her suggestions would help the flat, and ergo my life in it, seem more luxurious with only small, simple touches. Whether it would fill my bank balance up, however, is a different matter.
Jackson says she wants the book to empower more people to practice House Therapy on their own, but I wonder how it would work without her live personal insights.
“When I do seminars they last about an hour and a half. The first half of the seminar everyone will be listening to me, by the second half of the seminar everyone’s doing House Therapy themselves on each other’s photos. They don’t need me any more after that initial stimulus.
“One of the things I wanted to do in the book is to make House Therapy freely available to anyone regardless of their financial circumstances – well they have to buy the book but then you’ve got the whole plan there from top to bottom.”
If you want to get Jackson’s own personal insight though, she is keen to spread the word. “I want to offer to Ham & High readers if they have any group I’ll come and give them a free talk and get them started with a House Therapy circle.” Connect with Hannah at facebook.com/HouseTherapyCircles/ to take her up on her offer.
The House Therapist is available for £15.14 on Amazon. An album of songs to accompany the book is also available to download from iTunes and Amazon.
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