Hoarding Disorder. The hidden illness.
In May 2013 Hoarding Disorder was officially recognised in the DSM-V (the fifth edition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). The NHS has published a page on Hoarding, click here for more details.
Your GP is your first point of contact. Take a trusted friend with you to help explain the situation, you could even take photographs or ask for a home visit.
Alternatively, download Dr Mataix Cols' Clinicians Diagnostic Criteria for Hoarding Disorder and take this to your doctor.
Your doctor may also be able to refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist, and connect you with any support projects, enabling teams or charitable organisations for hoarders in your area.
Some people find that prescribed medication can help to reduce the need to acquire, as well as the anxiety felt when discarding possessions. Speak to your doctor or psychiatrist.
You may also qualify for “Direct Payments” through the NHS, to pay someone to assist you. More information here
St George's Hospital (SW London) can provide home based treatments for hoarders with OCD, and assessment of people without an OCD diagnosis. Click for more info or contact Dr Lynne Drummond email@example.com or Tel: 02035136961
Prof. Paul Salkovskis' psychological clinic at the University of Bath is now able to accept NHS referrals. Click here for details
The Clutter Image Ratings can be used to assess the condition of a hoarded home as well as the hoarder’s level of insight. Download now.
The London Fire Brigade have developed Fire Safety Tips for Hoarders. Download here and if you require a home fire safety check contact your local fire station.
Satwant Singh runs a monthly hoarder’s treatment group in East London, click here for details
Martina Papmeyer has set up the website www.changehoarding.org and a hoarding support group in Edinburgh
The Hoarding Peer Support Group Tower Hamlets, run by hoarders for hoarders, meets on the 3rd Sunday of each month. Address: London Action Resource Centre, 62 Fieldgate St, E1 1ES (nearest Tube, whitechapel) From 6-9pm. Visit the website, call 01908 607667 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
A peer support group "The Plymouth Squirrels" will take place every fourth Wednesday from 7-9pm Pilgrim Church Hall, St Levans Rd, Milehouse, Plymouth PL2 1HW (easy parking). Call Jeff on 07752 351234 for details.
A Hoarding support group for Hammersmith & Fulham residents meets on the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 11am to 1pm at 62 Blythe Road W14 OHP. Contact Donna.Kelly@hfmind.org.uk or 0207 471 0580 or visit their website
In Leatherhead, a new Self-Help group will start on Thursday 9th May, and continue every second Thursday of the month, run by the Mary Frances Trust and facilitated by Andy Honey (Carer & Hoarding Expert) and Sophie Holmes (Clinical Psychologist) Contact: 01372 375400 or email@example.com
Ask your GP for contact details of local Psychiatrists and Psychologists who specialise in hoarding.
You can get reduced priced therapies with no waiting lists by joining www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help and they also have a helpline open Mon-Fri 09.30-17.30 Tel: 08444 775 774
Emotional Freedom Technique has been very effective for my mum and combines tapping on specific acupressure points with structured dialogue. Find certified practitioners in the UK on www.aamet.org, www.eftregister.com or www.eftuniverse.com or try the self help videos below.
Kathryn Deyn, otherwise known as The Memory Whisperer is an EFT practitioner based in Lincolnshire, that has been working with my mum. For a free consultation visit www.eft-answers.co.uk. Read her article on Hoarding here. Kathryn features in the self help videos below..
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be helpful in changing your thought process with regard to hoarding. To find a therapist in your area go to www.cbtregisteruk.com or ask your Doctor.
Find information & details of counsellors or psychotherapists that deal with hoarding on www.counselling-directory.org.uk/compulsive-hoarding
A Hypnotherapist may be able to help you communicate with your subconscious for lasting change. You can find one near you on www.general-hypnotherapy-register.com. If you would like to experience hypnosis download this free relaxation mp3 by Robin Hobson.
Some people with hoarding problems have found EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) very helpful in reprocessing experiences that may have triggered their hoarding. For more information and to find a therapist visit www.emdrassociation.org.uk
Health kinesiology is a gentle energy technique that works on the mental, emotional, Spiritual and physical aspects of challenges that we face. For a full a list of practitioners go to www.hk4health.co.uk. Joanne Davies works as a Health Kinesiologist in west London Tel: 07890 192 531.
www.cloudsend.org.uk is a social enterprise which helps people with hoarding problems (based in the Midlands and South East) founded by Heather Matuozzo, who is one of the most experienced and caring "de-clutterers" I've met and a staunch campaigner for Hoarders.
Whilst it is obvious that de-cluttering is a crucial part of the process of recovering from hoarding, I feel it should be one of the final stages of treatment, and should form part of an on-going treatment plan with a therapist. From experience, I would say it is imperative to choose the right de-clutterer, as if they are too pushy, or work to quickly, many hoarders will experience acute distress and any short term improvement will quickly evaporate as the hoarder attempts to re-gain control by replacing lost possessions and the trust has been broken.
Unless the hoarder really is ready and willing to progress with clearing quickly and efficiently, a professional de-clutterer could end up being a waste of time and money, and could do more harm than good. If you are considering this approach, first check that they are experienced and willing to work with chronic hoarders, as many aren't. Have a initial consultation in the house, and lay down any ground rules such as "nothing will be disposed of without my permission" and "we will take regular breaks if required".
The following are a few that say they can work with hoarders, but I cannot personally vouch for them:
Stuff U Sell is a fantastic service which really helped my mum de-clutter. They will collect, sort and sell your items on eBay, donating to charity or disposing of anything that can't be economically sold. See www.stuffusell.co.uk or freephone 0800 046 1100.
Other Clearance companies who state they can work sensitively in hoarded environments include the below:
www.easyclear.co.uk offer sympathetic house clearance nationwide, and offer 10% discount to referrals from this site Tel: 0800 58 78 783
www.ukhouseclearance.com a house clearance company who specialise in hoarded houses and recycle or donate 90% of everything they clear.
www.cityclearances.com specialise in clearing hoarded homes and can also provide de-cluttering services. Contact via their website or on 0800 567 7769
www.just-clear.co.uk understand the difficulties faced by hoarders and are sensitive to your needs.
www.anyclear.co.uk provide a house clearance service with sensitive experienced staff and give 5% of every order to Hoarding Disorder Research.
Other options include local recycling or house clearance companies. Some house clearance companies may be willing to buy your stuff, and some local authorities may be able to collect large items for recycling or disposal.
Charity shops are usually very happy to take donations that they can sell on. Some may even be able to arrange collection.
Clothing or other items which are not suitable for re-sale could be donated to aid charities, or recycled at a recycling centre.
Car Boot or Jumble sales can be a good way of letting items go.
www.uk.freecycle.org is a really good way of matching the things you would like to part with, with people in your area who will use them, thus keeping them out of landfills.
www.unuseditems.com believes that "One man's trash is another Man's treasure", and offers you the opportunity to sell your unwanted and unused items.
Your borough may also have a local charity or enabling team which can provide practical help, some of these charities are NHS funded.
Webistes for professionals who work with hoarders: