Hoarding Intervention: Step 2, Planning


Hi, welcome to this week’s blog post on hoarding. We are focusing on staging an intervention, and to keep it simple, we will be breaking it down into 4 simple steps.

We have previously discussed (in step 1) how as a family member or as a friend, you can prepare for the intervention.

The second step is to start planning the intervention.


First of all, we must determine whether an intervention is actually necessary.

It all depends on the level of hoarding, but also on the communication skills of both yourself and the hoarder.


If the hoarding is at a level where they might harm themselves or others due to being unable to find their way out in case of an emergency, for example, you might be in a place where there is no other choice.

Even so, if your loved one is someone that can be reached with a one-to-one conversation, then that might be the best thing to try first.

Exhaust all posibilities before planning an intervention, but don’t be afraid of planning one anyway.


If it is felt that an intervention is necessary, as discussed in step 1, you could all meet as a family/friends support group and discuss what you are going to say to the person and how.


Planning out your approach is very important to ensure that you are fully prepared for the reactions and questions from your loved one.

Be prepared for a variety of emotions:

Anger – why are you doing this to me? Why can’t you just leave me alone?!

Guilt – I am so sorry I’m putting you through this.

Denial – Everything is fine, I don’t know what you’re talking about!

They might just not want your help.

Other emotions and reactions might come up.


You know your loved one best, and predicting possible behaviours will help keep things safe for everyone, no matter how heated things get.


As part of your plan, you might need to show the hoarder the extent of the problem.

You can use the Clutter image rating to determine the level of clutter in each room.

This will show the severity of the problem in the home.

This might be enough for the hoarder to realise what’s going on, what they might have become accustomed to living in.


Realising that others talk about this and there is help for their situation, might be a relief.

It might also make them sad or even depressed to realise what they’ve been doing.


Having a plan for continued support for your loved one will be important. Have a list of therapists specialising on this topic, and make sure you provide a safe environment, with support from the person’s network (including you and the people staging the intervention), so the hoarder feels like they can do this.


A critical element of the intervention is building trust between the family members/friends (and especially mental health service providers).


According to Evidence Exchange Network for Mental Health and Addictions, “this can be done using a motivational approach that focuses on harm reduction (rather than solely symptom reduction), promoting safety, minimizing loneliness, empowering the individual, and providing education.”

To get to this motivational stage, you’ll need to provide as much information as possible in a short space of time.

This information will need to include:

  • patience, perseverance, and the knowledge that this isn’t going to be necessarily a calm conversation, in fact it might be the opposite
  • why you’ve decided to talk to your loved one in this way
  • evidence for their need for your support and the support of professionals that can help declutter and also help with the mental health aspects of the hoarding behaviours
  • visuals like the rating scale described above
  • short lists of professionals that can help with this – Stacey and myself can help with both the practical and psychological aspects of hoarding.

As you can tell from the way we’ve written this post, we believe it is very important to emphasise the positives of carrying out an intervention.

Even though it might be uncomfortable to do something like this, there are a lot of benefits it can bring to your loved ones life.

If you’ve got further questions, don’t hesitate to visit either of our sites and send us a message, or reply to this post in the comment section below.


If you are living in a similar situation or know anybody that is, please do not hesitate to contact us today so that we can provide you with the support that is needed.


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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