Hoarders have become a national fascination! Not only we do all know families struggling with this challenge, we know how tragic these situations are with respect to finances, emotions, safety and sometimes legal aspects.
Work with a hoarding situation begins with the client.
Who is the client? It is the hoarder, even though the family, friends or other community members want the home decluttered. An assessment of client readiness for change makes the difference. Is the client ready to begin the process of letting go, creating a new way of life, and working toward maintenance and balance of acquisition ? As a professional organizer, the first phone conversation with the hoarder tells me so much about our work together.
A successful approach for hoarding includes a team.
The team members are the client, the therapist and related professionals, the professional organizer, assistants to the organizer, skilled labor or other trade professionals as needed, and possibly haulers. Collaborative therapy, where the client works with both a therapist for inner change and a professional organizer for outer change, makes for the best possible work arrangement. As a professional organizer, I also find my hoarding clients work best with additional team members. The energy that more people bring, the additional hauling off capability, and the resources that all the other team members bring to the project, neutralizes the shame and perfectionism the client is feeling. In our work we usually find several home repair projects as we progress. The project moves forward more quickly by having a handy man, electrician, and other trade people to call in as needed.
Work with hoarders proceeds at their pace.
With my own clients and their cases, we work on a regular basis, working in most difficult areas together. Together we establish guidelines for donating through coaching. Clients are encouraged and affirmed in good decision making. Trust is the most important aspect of our relationship. Clients see me as a motivator to change. Every situation with hoarders is different in terms of how quickly progress occurs.
John Hart, PhD firstname.lastname@example.org
Tolin, Frost and Sketetee Buried in Treasures
Tomkins and Hartl Digging Out: Helping your loved one manage clutter, hoarding and compulsive acquiring