Hoarding and the importance of focusing on the individual


Hi, and welcome to this week’s post on hoarding.

We’ll be talking about some causes of hoarding (next week’s post) and why focusing on the individual is important.


As a therapist, I (Karin) am aware of the medical model, which focuses on making a diagnosis in order to help the person.

I work with the social model and person-centred model when working with my clients, which works with the whole individual.

Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes a diagnosis is important – to get people the support they need, like benefits, medication or social services.

There are other times where diagnoses aren’t that helpful.

This is why I work with an awareness of a diagnosis, but don’t put the client in any diagnostic boxes.

Putting the individual in a box will limit the work and lead me to focus only on an aspect of the whole person sitting in front of me.

I will keep the diagnosis in mind, but I won’t make it my first priority when the client is sitting in front of me.


People usually seek counselling with a main reason for consulting, but it turns out that things aren’t always as black and white.

I use the spaghetti bowl analogy.

When a client sits in front of us, overwhelmed by their distress and current situation, there are a lot of layers – or strings of spaghetti – muddled up that need to be explored in order to gain a better understanding, and support the client to get back on track – looking at each spaghetti string and straightening it out, one by one.

Each topic that comes up might seem unrelated, but whatever the client brings to the sessions is linked to the main reason for coming to see me.

After all, it’s all about the same person.


Person-centred work involves providing the client the empathy and acceptance required for them to open up and ask for help.

None of this will happen until and unless the client is ready.

In regard to hoarding, it’s important that the client is involved in the process throughout.

Therapy and/or the de-cluttering process won’t be long-lasting unless the client is ready to do the work.

The reason I emphasise this is that many times, the hoarder’s family or friends are the ones that contact a counsellor or a professional organising service like the one Stacey offers at Serenity for You.

This might be the first step for the client to realise that things have got out of hand.

Or they might be aware of this, but a gentle nudge from family will help them start thinking about getting help.

It might be a hard process – dealing with shame, guilt and difficult emotions that – so working sensitively will be key.


Meeting the client where they are means we will be able to help them, by working at their pace, and enable them to move into a place where they can take charge of their own wellbeing, both through tending to their mental health and their physical environment.


In next week’s post, we will discuss the causes of hoarding that will most likely come up in therapy sessions, and that need to be addressed in order to move forward from hoarding.


Declutter & donate your unwanted items to Shelter.

You can make a difference to improving someone’s life.

Contact Stacey for more info! 


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