Piles of books stacked up to ceiling by someone with hoarding disorder

How we help with hoarding disorder

We provide practical, experienced and non-judgmental help and support to those affected by hoarding disorder.

Working together with you, we will help you to reduce the amount of belongings in your space and organise it methodically. Our approach is tailored to each individual and your particular circumstances.

Hoarding disorder is a very complex issue. We understand that each person’s case is unique. We strongly recommend avoiding enforced clear-outs as these can cause long-term harm to the person whose home it is. Re-hoarding can then occur at a greater level due to the trauma of not being in control of this experience.

It is incredibly important that you are ultimately making the decisions about items to let go with our help, guidance and motivation.  This will empower you to make significant changes to your habits and mind-set and therefore your life.

How do you know if you may be affected by Hoarding Disorder?

Hoarding disorder is where someone finds it an ongoing difficulty to discard or part with possessions. This is because they believe that they need to keep them (reasons vary from person to person). They will usually experience some distress at the thought of getting rid of items. This leads to an accumulation of an excessive number of items in their home which negatively impacts their life.   

Hoarding is a significant problem when these items begin to interfere in daily life. For example, you may not be able to use certain rooms in your house or access windows or have blocked access-ways through your home. The amount of items may also be causing significant distress or negative emotions for you or people around you such as your family.

Clutter Image Rating Test

In determining whether you or someone you know has hoarding disorder, a useful tool is the Clutter Image Rating Test published by Oxford University Press. This globally used test asks you to score each room in your house on a scale from 1-9 based on photos of how many items are in each room. Scores including 4 and above for any room are a cause of concern and expert assistance is recommended.

Questions to ask to see if you share the beliefs of someone with hoarding disorder:

If you answer “yes” to some or all of the questions, then you share beliefs which people with hoarding disorder often have:

  • Do you have strong emotional attachment to your belongings? For example, would throwing away an item feel like throwing away part of yourself?
  • At the thought of letting items go, do you feel anxiety or discomfort?
  • Are you reluctant for others to touch your things because it makes you feel out of control?
  • When trying to let go of items do you find it difficult because you think “this could be useful in the future”?
  • Do you find it hard to make decisions about what to let go of and how to organise your possessions?
  • Are there rooms, spaces and furniture in your home which you cannot use for their intended purpose. For example, clothes in the bath, sofas not visible under stuff or entryways and access ways blocked?
  • Have you avoided inviting people to your home because you do not want them to see its current state?
  • Have friends, family or neighbours expressed concern about your living conditions?

When to seek help?

Hoarding behaviours can be challenging as often the person who hoards does not acknowledge it as a problem. It is only when the person who hoards acknowledges that there is a problem and wants to change that we can help them.

Many people do realise they have a problem. However, they may be reluctant to seek help because they feel extremely ashamed, humiliated or guilty about it.

The impetus to seek help often happens when crucial renovation works need to happen and access is required. For example, their central heating or plumbing breaks down. Or it may be the negative impact that it is having on their mental health and the pain it is causing their family.

Hoarding disorder is a very debilitating condition. It can cause loneliness and mental health problems along with health and safety risks. Hoarding increases the risk of a fire occurring. It also makes it more difficult for people living within the property to evacuate safely. Fire can also spread to neighbouring properties if the level of hoarding is severe.

It is therefore really important to encourage a person who is hoarding to seek help in the following ways:

a) Therapy

We know that often the hardest part can be telling someone that you are hoarding. Often the first port of call is telling your GP. They may recommend a therapist specialising in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Sometimes when people seek help, for example, from their GP or friends or family the reaction they receive is not always positive. This can lead to the person feeling even more isolated. However, awareness of hoarding is improving and you should persist with seeking help.  

There is a very useful form which you can complete and give to your GP called the Ice Breaker Form (click here to be taken to the form).

b) Practical and empathetic help

Undergoing therapy whilst also having practical help from a professional organiser is the most effective solution. Our organisers have successfully helped those with hoarding disorder overcome these behaviours.  If you would like help for yourself or a loved one to help with this condition, please get in touch here.

Examples of our successful work with clients with hoarding disorder:

Hoarded bathroom - before photo cluttered
Hoarded bathroom - after photo decluttered bathroom
Before photo - hoarding disorder cluttered room

After photo - hoarding disorder room decluttered