What is hoarding?

Many people use the word “hoarding” when referring to another person’s clutter. Hoarding is not a term to throw around or impose on others – it is a specific, diagnosable mental disorder (defined in the 5th edition of the DSM in 2013). The prevalence rate is estimated at 2-5% in adults.

Compulsive hoarding (aka hoarding disorder) is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by excessive acquisition and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment. Compulsive hoarding behavior has been associated with health risks, impaired functioning, economic burden, and adverse effects on friends and family members.

When clinically significant enough to impair functioning, hoarding can prevent typical uses of space, enough so that it can limit activities such as cooking, cleaning, moving through the house, and sleeping. It could potentially put the individual and others at risk of causing fires, falling, poor sanitation, and other health concerns. Compulsive hoarders may be conscious of their irrational behavior but the emotional attachment to the hoarded objects far exceeds the motive to discard the items. {description from Wikipedia, compulsive hoarding article}

Judgement Free Zone

Our team of organizers are here to help, not judge! We love all of our clients, regardless of the level of clutter and disorganization. We also have a confidentiality policy, so you don’t have to worry about other people finding out about your ‘stuff’!

The Clutter-Hoarding Scale™

The Clutter–Hoarding Scale™ is an assessment measurement tool, developed by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) to give professional organizers and related professionals definitive parameters related to health and safety. The ICD is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization whose mission is to benefit people challenged by chronic disorganization. The Clutter-Hoarding Scale™ can be downloaded on the ICD website HERE.

Hoarding Clean Out

Hoarding clean out can consist of several different options, depending on the situation:

Harm Reduction

Our team of professional organizers clean out part of the residence in order to restore safe living conditions for the resident. Harm reduction may be the best route when the person who hoards is not willing to part with their belongings, but the environment is not safe to reside in. Once the clean out is complete, the resident is able to live in the space safely even though the entire hoarded space is not completely cleaned out. This is not ideal, as the behavior has not been modified and will likely continue. Harm reduction is typically in an “emergency” situation and is only a temporary solution. For a permanent solution, see “Behavioral Modification”

Behavioral Modification

When a therapist and professional organizer work together with the client, behavioral modification can be successful! Our professional organizers work directly with the client to make decisions about what to keep and what to part with and where to store the items they wish to keep. During the process, we work with the client to implement positive habits and routines, as well as set up systems of organization. Once we have decluttered the space, we can assist the client with planning and scheduling any home repairs or updates. We offer ongoing maintenance plans to ensure the client is able to maintain the systems we have set up for them and continues to keep the space decluttered. It is so exciting to see lasting change for our {recovering} hoarding clients!

Whole Home Clean Out

An entire clean out is typically done when the person who hoards has passed away or has permanently left the residence. We would typically be hired by a relative or beneficiary, lawyer or the city. Our organizing specialist manages the project – from sorting through the possessions to securing a cleaning crew to bringing in a trash hauling service. We only throw away items agreed upon ahead of time and will salvage anything of value to sell or donate. We carefully pack items that will be kept by the owner or beneficiary. The goal of the whole home clean out is to clear the hoard and prepare the home for sale or demolition.

Are you or is someone you love a hoarder?

“We can help you conquer the clutter!”

“Give us a call today for a FREE phone consultation! We would love to discuss the project with you and create a plan of action.”