Hoarding and Clutter: Digging Out

On Wednesday, August 20th, 2014, Houston OCD Program’s Behavior Therapists Christen Sistrunk, MA, LPC and Jessica Gerfen, PhD, discussed hoarding and clutter for approximately sixty attendees at The Thomas A Glazier Senior Education Center in Houston, Texas. Want to know more about hoarding and clutter? Here is an overview of the presentation:

What is hoarding? Hoarding refers to the trouble resisting acquiring and saving too many possessions.This includes saving and saving items until the person feels overwhelmed and intimidated by the idea of getting rid of these items.

Why do people hoard? There are many reasons why people might hoard items, including a trauma history, genetic link, or significant stress in the person’s lives. Oftentimes, people who hoard do tend to identify themselves as collectors or savers from a young age.

Why don’t people who hoard just stop hoarding? For many reasons! Oftentimes, people have faulty beliefs about the usefulness of items or have perfectionism which interferes with the discarding of items. There are also feelings of being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things to sort which can lead people to procrastinate or avoid the discarding process.

Myself or someone I know hoards. What can we do about it? Two things – First, stop the acquiring process (i.e., shopping or collecting items. Second, begin to organize the items into three categories (keep, toss, and donate). Ask yourself some key questions, including “have I used this in the last year?” to help yourself decide what to do with the item. Do experiments on how detrimental it really will be to discard something (and test how long that anxiety really does last for!) It can be really helpful to also have a coach through this process.

I want more information! Check out the full Hoarding Presentation here.