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Frequently Asked Questions

What is hoarding?
Who develops hoarding behavior?
What problems are associated with hoarding?
How was this treatment program developed?
What does the treatment involve?

Q: What is hoarding?
A: Hoarding can be defined as having three components:

  1. the acquiring of, and failure to discard a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value;
  2. living spaces sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed; and
  3. significant impairment in functioning or distress caused by the hoarding.

Q: Who develops hoarding behavior?
A: Hoarding is most commonly considered to be a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder. In fact, checking and cleaning rituals are frequent among people who suffer from compulsive hoarding. We know that hoarding often starts in childhood, and that there is a tendency for excessive saving behavior to run in families.

Q: What problems are associated with Hoarding?
A: Hoarding is associated with 3 types of deficits or problems:

  • Difficulty making decisions, especially about saving and organizing
  • Excessive emotional attachments to possessions
  • Erroneous beliefs about the nature of possessions

Q: How was this treatment program developed?
A: This intervention program described grew out of the authors" work with a number of clients whom they studied intensively in individual treatment and in group treatment. Over the past few years, this therapy has been tested on over 50 clients who exhibited moderate to severe hoarding problems and often had some other problems like attention deficit disorder, depression, marital problems, and social anxiety.

Q: What does the treatment involve?
A: Throughout this treatment program you will learn various skills and techniques for dealing with your compulsive hoarding and excessive acquiring. In the first few sessions with your clinician you will assess your hoarding problem and how it affects your life. Your clinician will want to visit you in your home to get a better idea of the extent of your hoarding.

You"ll then develop a personal organizing plan and put it into effect. With your clinician"s help, you will sort through your possessions room-by-room and learn to discard, recycle, and donate the things you don"t need. This work will include examining how you think about your possessions and beliefs you hold that might or might not be true. You will also learn strategies for anticipating and coping with stressors and maintaining your new habits. The workbook contains all the forms, worksheets, and exercises you will need to participate in this treatment program.

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Also Available From the Authors:
Buried In Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding