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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What is Hoarding?

Hi, and welcome to this edition of our Hoarding mini-series.

In this week’s post we’ll be talking about what hoarding is, from a psychological and a practical perspective.

The psychological effects of hoarding are intertwined with the more tangible aspects of hoarding.

For example, when someone that’s hoarding collects more possessions, they have an emotional reaction to this.

They get something new for their home, they get a strong reaction.

Some of the reactions are positive – an adrenaline and endorphin rush that gives the hoarder a happy feeling, which reinforces the behaviour of acquiring more things to continue getting that happy feeling.

For others, it might be frustrating to be buying more things they know they don’t need and really don’t want but can’t stop themselves from buying.

There’s a pull towards that accumulation of material things, which most likely has an underlying, mostly unconscious origin.

The unconscious pull is strong and undetectable unless talked through with a counsellor or psychotherapist that will help the hoarder to work through their difficult past (distant or recent) that might have led them into hoarding.

There are more emotions that hoarding can bring up for the hoarder and their family and friends.

The consequences to the environment are also important because they might impact on the hoarder’s personal and professional lives.

Stacey now will talk to us about this a bit further.

Hoarding is when a person is saving lots of different items within their home regardless of whether or not those items add any value to their lives.

According to the mental health charity Mind, if you hoard, you might:

  • Have very strong positive feelings whenever you get more items added to your home   
  • Feel very upset or anxious at the thought of throwing or giving things away any items that you have accummalated   
  • Find it very hard to decide what to keep or what to get rid of

The charity also states that, hoarders may believe the following:

  • That they need to keep things for the future
  • That they will not be able to cope with how they feel if somebody were to start throwing things away
  • Throwing things away will harm other people or the environment
  • You have to keep things because you must not waste them
  • You should arrange or dispose of things perfectly or not at all
  • Your belongings are making you happy or keeping you safe
  • Your belongings are all unique and special, even if they are very similar
  • You simply need more storage space, or more time to sort things out.

Lots of people share some of these beliefs to an extent, but don’t feel them as strongly or as part of hoarding.   

Hoarding could affect you in lots of different ways, some examples below are:

  • It can lead to health and safety issues such as being unable to leave your home quickly in case of an emergency.
  • Feeling embarrassed and ashamed of your home which could lead to feelings of isolation. This feeling of isolation could happen because you do not want people to visit your home and to not know about your situation.
  • You could struggle to stay on top of paying bills or finding important paperwork that you need to stay organised because of the clutter that you live in.
  • Buying the same items that you already have but you do not realise this because you cannot find them.
  • Avoid letting visitors into your home which could lead to housing or safety problems as those visitors could be trying to carry out repairs or safety checks in your home.
  • Your personal hygiene could be affected in extreme cases where you cannot access your bathroom or washing machine.
  • Your health could be affected in cases where you cannot access the kitchen properly or there is no space in your fridge to store, prepare, cook and eat healthy food for you and/or your family.
  • You could be restricted from accessing areas of your home due to it being very cluttered for example, your bedroom or hallways.
  • Children could be affected by a person with a hoarding disorder. Where severe hoarding exists, families rarely have any space at all and are forced to combine bedroom spaces inappropriately, for example an older child could be forced to sleep in the same bed as a parent. Sometimes children can be forced to live in one space that serves multiple functions. For example where there is space on a sofa, this sofa could be used for sleeping, doing homework or eating.

If you recognise any of the things mentioned in this post, for yourself or a friend or relative, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We can help with the practical – Stacey is a professional organiser – and the psychological – Karin is a counsellor working online.

See you next week!

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Hoarding: Psychological and Practical Support for you or your family member (blog series intro)

Hi, and welcome to this week’s blog post, where I’d like to introduce a new partnership with Stacey Sabido from Serenity for You.

In these posts, we want to raise awareness and provide informative posts about hoarding, their effects – both practical and psychological.

We will be working holistically, which is why we have joined forces. I’ll be discussing the psychological aspects of hoarding, while Stacey will be discussing the practical aspects.

Of course, there will be points where these two meet – and it’s important that they do! – so we will both be touching on both aspects of hoarding.

In the next few months, we’ll be talking about the following topics:

What is hoarding?

Consequences on wellbeing

practical steps to help someone who’s hoarding

helping your loved one to move forward from hoarding

getting hoarding under control

responsibility and hoarding

support but don’t take over the process

distance is sometimes more helpful

and more!

I’ve decided to join forces with Stacey for a few reasons.

The first one being that the topic of hoarding is something I’ve come across in my therapy room, and even though it might not be the main topics in my clients’ therapy, clutter does impact on their wellbeing and mental health.

It is important to do the practical stuff that Stacey will be doing, but without the emotional support, the root causes will remain the same and the individual will most likely “relapse” and begin hoarding again.

A while back, I wrote a post about Spring Cleaning, which relates to de-cluttering. It doesn’t address hoarding as such, but it’s something that’s been on my mind for a while now, and I’m working on de-cluttering my house as we speak.

It’s a work in progress – papers under control, clothes organised and I really don’t need to buy any more in a long time, so I won’t! Everything has it’s place and not many extra things are around.

It feels good to do it, and I want to support a business that wants that for her clients.

I’ll let Stacey introduce herself now. For more about me, please visit this page.

Stacey Sabido – Serenity For You

Hi, I’m stacey, and I’m happy to be here!

I am kind, caring and compassionate and have always found happiness in helping others.

I am a strong believer in being in a free state of mind.

Serenity For You was established for the purpose of helping others to create SERENITY:

“….the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.”

I have a natural gift (if I do say so myself!) in keeping things in order and a passion for helping to improve the lives of others with my skills. 

With a background in HR and customer service, I am very organised, efficient, warm & friendly!

What Serenity for You offers:

My aim as a Professional Organiser is to turn my clients chaos into serenity.

I offer a personal service that also cares about YOU as a person and not just your physical surroundings.

I want to inspire people to not only help themselves but by doing so also help others in need….

…de-cluttering your home and getting rid of items that you no longer need which would benefit the less fortunate.

I have teamed up with Shelter – a registered charity that campaigns to end homelessness.

I can remove your unwanted items and donate them to this charity which would be contributing to an amazing cause.

I offer decluttering and organising for any area of your home and I also work in offices if help with paper management and filing is needed.

I can assist with helping with home moves to take away the stress and ensure a smoother transition.

I have recently started a new and exciting partnership with KB Bllingual Counselling services. which will provide you with the support that you need if you are struggling to cope with stress and anxiety around hoarding (for yourself or your loved one).

Here are my social media platforms for you to find out more on a regular basis:




We will work together with the aim to transform your life physically and mentally, reduce your stress and increase your happiness!

We will be working particularly close with the friends or family of hoarders, with the aim to providing a team effort support network.

Together, we aim to offer professional organising (Stacey) and mental health and wellbeing support (Karin) in a way that ensures that everything is covered and you’re getting the right support, when you need it.

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