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  The experts say...
       
"Hoarders tend to have trouble making decisions - to throw it out or not? Saving stuff is an avoidance behavior because then they don't need to decide whether to throw it away."
 - Dr. Sanjaya Saxena, UCSD Department of Psychiatry
    

Help For Hoarders: Ten Small Steps
If you want to help the hoarder you need to remove the threat of being judgemental - instead look at situation from their point of view. Every hoarder feels that their collection, clutter, trash is valuable - nearly every disintegrated book and newspaper circular is viewed by a hoarder as though it were a "diamond in the rough."

"Trust is essential." When they know that WE know all this trash and clutter represents their identity, they are less defensive and are able to relax and trust us so that we can help them.

  1. Don't throw anything away without the persons approval.


  2. Excavate one tiny area at a time - one tabletop, one corner, one drawer, one shelf in the medicine cabinet.


  3. Sort before discarding anything. It's hard to relinquish one scarf, but less hard to get rid of 20 out of 40.


  4. Donate items instead of throwing them away, since it's a comfort to know they can find a good home with someone else.


  5. Make contact face-to-face and use a soft, gentle approach and let the hoarder tell his/her story.


  6. Treat the hoarder with respect and dignity -- remain calm and factual but caring and supportive.


  7. Evaluate the situation for safety then refer the hoarder for medical and mental health evaluation.


  8. Go slowly and expect gradual changes and be sure to involve the hoarder in seeking solutions.


  9. Avoid being critical or judgmental about the hoarder's environment.


  10. Present ideas for behavior modification - for example: Don't buy a book unless you spend half an hour with it in the bookstore. For every book acquired, relinquish two books that you've already identified as dispensable.



 - Tip provided by Dorothy Breininger - Professional Organizer
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