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Chaos to Clarity: Tips from Bent Tree Counseling's Dr. Rikki Permenter

Feb 07, 2024 10:47AM ● By Lauren Pope

Picture it. It’s 3:30 PM on the 22nd of the month. You’re rushing to Zachary City Hall to pay your water bill before it gets disconnected the next day. You skid into the parking lot and slam the check down on the counter. Crisis averted!

You feel…kind of amazing, actually. Overcoming that potential catastrophe has flooded your brain with all sorts of feel good chemicals and the sense of urgency really got you going. I mean, you’re not intentionally trying to live on the razor’s edge of chaos, but living this way? Well, according to Dr. Rikki Permenter, it’s serving a function in your life.

What might that be? Well, apparently sometimes we actually like living the hot mess lifestyle because it gives us a series of little wins and little things to worry about that distract us from actually looking into the BIG issues in our life. “It’s easier to find the lost key than to find your purpose in life,” Dr. Rikki tells me. 

Ouch! Thankfully, she’s here to help people develop organizational systems to get them out of the chaos zone and into a more balanced, stable state. That looks like sitting down for an afternoon and getting the bills on autopay or taking the weekend to really organize a space and get rid of the things that are only serving to create mental clutter and overwhelm.

After you have some stable systems in place, the real work starts. “Therapy itself can look a lot like physical organization. We pull all your emotional stuff out, and by session 3 you feel like you’re in a bigger mess than you started with, but if you stick with it, we’ll put everything back in a way that really serves you better.”  Why do people avoid therapy? “Well, we get stuck in patterns and facing a few weeks or months of hard work and overwhelm feels harder than living in a constant low level overwhelm. " Plus those bits of "exciting" crisis keep us on our toes.

That’s a mistake though, she says, because if we are always jumping from one crisis to the next, we never really learn to just sit down and do the work that we need to do to understand ourselves.

Of course, some of her clients have gone beyond just the “hot mess, needs a kitchen edit” stage and have mental health issues such as hoarding, adhd, ocd and other conditions that make organization particularly challenging. She works with primary care doctors to help her clients get any diagnosis or medication that they may need before starting the work, and then digs right into the heart of the issue with them. 

If you feel like you could need a little help getting your own mental and physical space in order, contact Dr. Rikki Permenter at She offers virtual and in person visits from her Clinton location.