Hoarding: Practical Steps to Staging an Intervention

Hi, and welcome to this week’s blog post on our series on Hoarding.

The last couple of posts, we have been preparing you for taking this important step to support your loved one.

In the second post, we talked about planning the steps before staging the intervention, and making sure it is the right way to go with your particular hoarder in mind.

Checking other avenues before staging an intervention might be key as it might not actually be necessary – this will depend on the hoarders’ state of mind and openness to conversations about their current situation.

Let’s get right to the steps we might need to take into account when working towards the date you’ve scheduled your intervention for.

The main thing to keep in mind, we believe, is to back up everything you say and do during the intervention.

This will build up your confidence before and during the meeting, and ensure the best results possible.

Of course, we can’t guarantee your loved one’s reactions or whether they’ll take your support.

All you can do is try, and trying will be appreciated, now or later.

Another thing to be mindful of is that they might not say “yes” to your support straight away.

They might need some time to think about it, and work through any feelings that might come up for them during the session (anger, sadness, guilt, shame, resentment, and other strong emotions might come up for your loved one during the sessions, and this is OK.)

Be prepared for those strong emotions, and be ready to sit with these as they come up.

Finding ways to keep everyone safe is key and a therapist will help you get strategies and ideas in place so you can build up your resilience and anticipate these strong emotions and your responses to them as they arise.

This is where having a session with a therapist, like myself, might be helpful.

I (Karin) have trained to be able to sit with a variety of different situations that bring up strong emotions in my clients, and an intervention will certainly bring a lot of stuff up!

Through Stacey’s website, you can book an initial call with her, and then she’ll put you in touch with me (or you can contact me directly, and I’ll liaise with Stacey in order to support you in the best and most holistic way possible).

Having spoken to a professional organiser and therapist will give you more tools to prepare what you’ll say.

Having a team behind you will show your loved one that you’re serious about helping them, and that you’ve done your homework before addressing this directly with them.

During your planning, take into account the personal experience and situation of your loved one, as well as their personality and the ways they respond to difficult conversations and situations in their lives.

You know them best, and this will help you plan your words carefully, in a way that will be compassionate, caring, and aware of their autonomy and right to make decisions that, to everyone else, might seem like “wrong” decisions.

Writing down what you want to say will be important.

We’ve all been there, we have all the things planned out in our minds, and when it comes to the moment of having the conversation, we get diverted, or emotions get the best of us and we miss out saying all we wanted to say.

We might also get nervous and forget half of the stuff we wanted to say that might have been helpful.

Getting together to plan this will make your intervention more fruitful.

Again, it will also build your confidence in what you are tackling, and build the team’s trust and confidence in one another.

Each member can take up one item on the list of things you want to run through with the hoarder, lightening the load for everyone.

Even though Stacey and I are available online as well as in person, we can’t be available to everyone, especially if in a different part of the country, so get in touch us for conversations about your particular situation, and we’ll do our best to help out with as much as we can.

In the case where Stacey can’t travel to your location to help with the decluttering process, we recommend you get in touch with local businesses that help with decluttering, and places where your loved one can donate their belongings.

Stacey works with Shelter, which is a great charity to work with!

By mentioning donation, your loved one might also be given food for thought regarding making a difference in someone else’s life, by giving their unwanted clutter to someone who will benefit from it once they’ve taken the step to get rid of it.

Finally there are two more steps to take to ensure your intervention runs as smoothly as possible:

Trial run!

Get together with the team that will be present during the intervention – friends, family, professionals – and plan for as many eventualities as possible.

Putting your heads together to figure out how to tackle each arising challenge, and writing down (as mentioned above) what you want to talk about, will be key.

Summary sheet

Providing a summary of what the meeting was about, and what you spoke about, as well as including services and people you’ve contacted to enquire about hoarding support, will allow your loved one to go away and think about these things.

You can include our blog post links if you’d like.

A summary sheet will allow them to read the content and spend time thinking about what they want to do about their hoarding issue.

This sheet might also be a great starting point for them to get the help they need, both psychological and practical.

If anything has come up for you while reading this post, do get in touch to discuss this. Stacey and Karin will be happy to help!

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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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Hoarding Intervention: Step 1: Get yourself prepared

Hi, welcome to this week’s blog post on hoarding. Our next topic is about staging an intervention and we will be breaking it down into 4 steps.

This post is dedicated to the relatives and friends of hoarders, which are usually the ones that are aware of the problem, sometimes a long time before the hoarder realises what they’re doing.

The first step which we will be focusing on is getting yourself prepared for an intervention as a family member or friend of the hoarder.

Do please take the time out to learn more about hoarding, what it is, the possible consequences that hoarding can have on the person and how hoarding can be used as a coping mechanism for an underlying issue. Please read our previous blog posts, we cover all of those topics.  

Betterhelp mentions that TV shows about hoarding may spread awareness about the disorder, but many experts say these shows paint an incorrect picture about hoarding and how to help a person who hoards.

Don’t get us wrong. Awareness is great, but these shows only show a part of the process.

We imagine that there’s a lot of psychological and other support for the hoarder and the family behind the scenes.

Look for credible sources like the charity Mind. https://www.mind.org.uk/ and other websites.

You can also contact Stacey directly for more on how we work together to provide both practical and psychological support for you and your loved one.

Betterhelp also advise not to enable the hoarders behaviour.

While taking items against a person’s will is not helpful, adding to their clutter by buying or giving them things or taking them on shopping trips is just as bad.

Let’s be honest, nobody likes their stuff taken away without their permission. This is no exception, no matter how hard it is to watch what it’s doing to them.

Take it step by step. You’ll all get there!

Avoid adding to the clutter by showing your love in other ways and spending time doing activities not related to consumption.

Engaging in activities that have nothing to do with buying or adding to their stuff will deepen your relationship, allowing the upcoming intervention to be received in a better light, as you’ll be a trusted individual in the life of your hoarding loved one.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) at a prearranged time, family members should approach the hoarder to talk about the effect of clutter on their lives and explain that help and support are available.

This is something we’ll be talking about in the next posts.

For now, let’s focus on preparing you for the day of the intervention.

Perhaps for now, just meeting as a group and practising with each other how you are going to approach the person and rehearsing what you are going to say and how will be helpful.

We understand that this intervention will be a big step for everyone involved, and we’re not sure how your hoarding loved one will respond yet.

Managing that anxiety with lots of preparation and possibly input from professionals such as Stacey and Karin will help.

Every step you take, whether they’re aware of it or not, is you showing them you care.

You are showing them in subtle ways that you care and they can receive help if they are open to it.

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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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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