In recent years, compulsive hoarding has been spot-lighted in a number of reality TV shows as well as in print and online. The truth is that hoarding can be traced back more than 100 years, but because of its negative stigma, most people have suffered in silence and have been reluctant to seek help. Contrary to popular opinion, hoarders are not careless individuals who simply choose to live in disarray. Hoarding crosses all socio-economic and cultural lines. People who hoard are often struggling with overwhelming life stressors and the acquisition of tangible things provides some form of comfort. Hoarding is also complicated because it can be a cause or a symptom of a secondary issue such as depression, anxiety or unresolved grief.
Hoarding has a profound effect on family and friends. They become frustrated because the behavior often makes no sense on the surface; and the living environment is not only a hazard to health and safety, but also keeps the hoarder isolated. Often friends and family members become discouraged when repeated efforts to help the hoarder clean up yield only a very short-lived change. Without follow through and persistence, the habit often returns and worsens.
Signs of a potential hoarding problem:
- Persistent difficulty parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value (due to a perceived need to save them)
- Rooms or living spaces in the home are inaccessible or unusable due to clutter or congestion
- Appliances are inaccessible or unusable due to clutter or congestion
- Animal care and control is unmanageable (having more animals than you can reasonably take care of as governed by local animal control laws)
- Health and safety of the individual(s) living in the home are of grave concern to family and friends due to the living environment being congested or compromised
Directions Counseling Group offers hope for the hoarder as well as those affected by his or her behavior. We can help distinguish between disorganization and true hoarding behavior; assess the severity of the problem, and offer both hope and a working plan to bring about lasting change. While the counselor assesses and helps with the internal reasons for the hoarding, the client may also enlist the help of a professional organizer for the clean-up portion. We also help families who want to implement a coordinated effort that includes the one suffering, the family members, the counselor and a professional organizer. If you or someone you know struggles with hoarding, please call us today to discuss how we can help.