Supporting people with Hoarding Disorder

to make changes to live a life less cluttered

Debbie Graham                         
Associate Degree in Christian Counselling             
Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE)

Diploma in Community Management

Certificate IV Community Services

After working in mental health for over 10 years and the last 2 1/2 years with people who experience a Hoarding and or Squalor issue, it is evident that there are significant gaps in interventions for people who live in clutter. Research highlights the importance of working with the person in their home but I am not aware of anyone who does this work.  That’s why I decided to start Inside Out Recovery. If people are going to make long term change, change has to happen from the inside out. Developing a holistic plan that includes skill development alongside clinical intervention and psychological assessments will be needed for people to live a life less cluttered.

Hoarding Disorder is a complex issue, requiring a targeted intervention and support strategy. The first response is usually to do a clean-up of the property but this isn’t always the first place to start.  Because of the complexity of Hoarding Disorder, rushing in and doing a clean-up can be more traumatic for the person and may do more damage. Psychological intervention is needed before a clean-up so that it helps the person to understand the reasons why they hoard and learn skills and strategies that will support them to sort and discard to achieve long term sustainable change. 

In my work with people with hoarding disorders, many people state that they wish they had support in their home because the task is too overwhelming and they don’t know where to start
Inside Out Recovery works from a 3 prong approach. (1) in home intervention; (2) training for front line workers and (3) facilitating consumer support groups.

Inside Out Recovery will work with people in their home by providing one on one counselling intervention working from a CBT model to help people understand why they hoard and how to get their clutter under control.

In most cases, people will need a minimum of 10 sessions but may need as many as 20. The number of sessions will be confirmed after initial assessments are completed.

Inside Out Recovery will also work with any other support networks which may already be in place or if there are no services involved, we will work with the person to explore options and assist them to engage with other services and supports beneficial for their recovery.

Training for front line workers is also paramount in understanding how to work with people with Hoarding Disorder. It equips workers to work effectively with people experiencing H&S issues by understanding the complexity of the disorder and learn the skills and strategies to do so.

Consumers participating in support groups will be able to meet with others who also experience H&S issues. Support groups offer people the opportunity to further explore the skills and strategies to beat hoarding while creating a safe, accepting and non-judgemental environment for change.