Got Too Much Stuff

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Post on 12-Nov-2014




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A presentation given to consumers on how to distinguish between collecting and hoarding, and how to let all that stuff go.


  • 1. Got Too Much Stuff?How to deal with all that clutterand deal with your anxiety about letting it go.
  • 2. Presented by Stephnie Thomas, MS, NCC, LGPC Anxiety Disorders Specialist,The Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland, LLC Voicemail: (410) 938 8457 ext 2 Cell: (410) 236 1470
  • 3. Has yourclutterbecomehoarding?
  • 4. First Step Take a look around your house (or apartment). Is your stuff helping you live a productive, healthy life? Is it getting in the way? Are other people bothered by your clutter? Are you too embarrassed to have friends or handymen come in to your home or areas of your home?
  • 5. Can you walk around all your furniture easily? .
  • 6. Has your home become a health hazard or a fire hazard?
  • 7. Are there areas of your home that you cant use because there is so much stuff piled up in there?
  • 8. Take a look at the next few slides:Which number is your space?
  • 9. Are you here?
  • 10. Or here?
  • 11. Or here?
  • 12. Or here?
  • 13. Or here?
  • 14. Or here?
  • 15. Or here?
  • 16. Or here?
  • 17. Where are you between theseextremes?
  • 18. Exercise: Each person was asked to bring in 2 items: 1. One item from your home that your family members would treasure and want to keep after you are gone 2. One item from your home that you treasure but know that your family members would not want to keep after you are gone
  • 19. Exercise (cont.)In small groups, discuss what makes each item special to youWhat makes each item something your children (or other family members) would either treasure or want to discard
  • 20. What is the difference betweenhoarding and collecting?A collection is defined as a group of treasured objects that one takes pleasure in collecting and showing to others.
  • 21. What is the difference betweenhoarding and collecting? (cont.)Hoarding can be defined as having so much stuff that one is unable (or unwilling) to take pleasure in showing it to others. Other definitions for hoarding include:
  • 22. Other definitions for Hoarding Hoarding is usually considered a subtype of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Like other compulsive behaviors, hoarding is an effort to manage the anxiety raised by obsessive doubts. There are varying levels of hoarding behavior. A diagnosis of OCD of the hoarding type is made when there is significant distress or disruption to feelings of self-worth, interpersonal relationships, education, occupation, housing, finances, legal issues, or health as a result of hoarding behavior.
  • 23. What is Hoarding? (cont.)Symptoms vary from person to person, but may include: Saving items seen by most people as unneeded or worthless, (i.e., not true collectibles). Compulsively buying or saving excessive quantities of items of any kind.
  • 24. What is Hoarding? (cont.) Treating all saved items as equally valuable-- whether or not the object has sentimental, financial or functional value. Experiencing intense anxiety or distress when attempting to discard-or even think about discarding-what most others view as useless objects.
  • 25. What is Hoarding? (cont.) Engaging in saving activity to combat anxiety- provoking thoughts such as: What if I run out? What if I need to know something and dont have the information available? What if I put it away and cant find it? What if the way I organize it isnt the right way? What if I throw it away but the day comes when I really need it?
  • 26. What is Hoarding? (cont.) Being unable to use furniture, rooms, or entire homes in standard ways due to saved items. Significant deterioration in housekeeping due to excessive clutter.
  • 27. What Causes Hoarding? There appears to be a strong genetic component to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder of the hoarding type. Modeling and conditioning may also play a role in the development of this disorder. OCD usually involves over-activity and/or under-activity of brain regions that underpin the observed behaviors.
  • 28. What causes Hoarding (cont.) Hoarding worries and behaviors can begin in childhood, even as young as age five. The latest research indicates there may be a link between hoarding and Attention Deficit Disorder Similar areas of the brain are implicated in hoarding and executive functioning problems
  • 29. OK I recognize I have a problem, but how do I change?1. Psychotherapy2. Exposure Therapy3. Medication4. Working with a professional organizer to reduce and organize clutter5. Often a combination of all of the above works well
  • 30. Psychotherapy TreatmentInvolves exploring the impact of learning, triggers, worrisome thoughts, and intense emotions.Helps you explore acquiring behaviors (triggers) and how that impacts your clutter.
  • 31. Medication TreatmentMedications used to treat anxiety and OCD (e.g. Paxil, Luvox, etc.) and to sharpen attention (e.g. Ritalin) can be helpful.Co-morbid conditions such as depression may also need to be addressed.
  • 32. Using a Professional Organizer Professional organizers help you categorize and store items so that your space is less cluttered They will also encourage you to discard unneeded items Problem: most lack training in helping you learn how not to acquire too much new stuff.
  • 33. Exposure Therapy Treatment Exposure therapy involves practicing new ways of responding to uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that arise when hoarding behavior is challenged. It is often conducted in the home with pragmatic emphasis on both reducing the clutter and managing the doubt and anxiety that perpetuate the clutter.
  • 34. Exposure Therapy TreatmentThe key is learning to "allow" feelings of anxiety to be present without attempting to neutralize them by saving things.
  • 35. ERP: What is it? Exposure and Response Prevention The client deliberately exposes him or herself to the feared situation and deliberately chooses not to engage in their normal behaviors Example: The hoarder walks into his apartment carrying his mail. Instead of adding the mail to the pile of unopened mail (the normal clutter response) he chooses to go through each item right then and there and discard junk mail WHILE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE WITH LETTING IT GO
  • 36. Response prevention Confront demoralization and self-contempt Learn to tolerate uncertainty When certainty will finally be obtained!
  • 37. Response prevention (cont.) Change the reaction to symptoms of arousal from catastrophizing to acceptance and curiosity Change the attitude from avoidance to approach Use practice not testing
  • 38. Therapy goals: Avoid repetitive questioning (e.g., "Why? Why do I have so much clutter/hoard? Why did I let this get out of hand?"). Understand that recovery doesnt require an answer to "Why? Remember: OCD and/or hoarding are/is not logical. Ask instead: "What is my objective? How can I best get there?"
  • 39. Therapy goals (cont.) What do I value? Is it more important to have a functional space or to have my stuff around me? Are family members refusing to come to my apartment because of my clutter? am I willing to change to see my grandchildren more often? Has my spouse moved out because of my clutter? Do I want him/her back?
  • 40. What do you want your space to look like? This?
  • 41. Or This?
  • 42. Or This?
  • 43. Or This?
  • 44. Or This?
  • 45. Or This?
  • 46. Or This?
  • 47. This? A semi-functional room
  • 48. Or this a fully functional room?
  • 49. Develop the ability to tolerate intense emotions. Rate the intensity of feelings on a scale of 1 to 10. Observe changes in the intensity of feelings. Notice that feelings come and go; saving things is not required to reduce anxiety.
  • 50. Accept that less than perfect is "good enough." Towels do not have to be folded with military precision, cans do not have to be arranged in alphabetical order, etc. Take care with items of consequence (e.g., bills, medicine, safe deposit box keys), but relax with things of less consequence (e.g., todays newspaper, "junk" mail, spare toothbrushes). Correctly making that distinction is often the key to recovery.
  • 51. Accept that less than perfect is"good enough. (cont.) Practice a "so what" attitude if you make a mistake. Ask yourself what is the worst that could happen and how could it be fixed. Ask yourself if it is worth the time and effort to change something you have done or whether you have better things to do.
  • 52. One way to avoid clutterFor every item that comes into your home, at least one item has to leave your home Doing this will very effectively address the acquiring behavior that is typical of most people who struggle with clutter
  • 53. Which bedroom do you want?
  • 54. "Only Handle It Once." (OHIO) Deal with each item only once. Check things only once instead of storing them to check more thoroughly later. Deal with things as soon as they come into the house. Do not retrieve items from the trash when second thoughts intrude and raise doubt.
  • 55. OHIOKeep Discard Donate
  • 56. Simplify decision making. Limit choices, (e.g., keep, recycle, sell, give away, throw away). Make clear decision rules for each choice, (e.g., keep 10 hole-free plastic bags, throw away dirty bags, recycle remaining bags).
  • 57. Simplify decision making. (cont) Use broad categories instead of many specific ones, (e.g., "gift wrap items" instead of paper, lace ribbons, small, medium & large bows). Accept that others, including experts, may do things differently.
  • 58. OHIO How useful is it? How often do I really use this item? Have I used it within theKeep last 6 months? (12 months for seasonal items) Does it have special sentimental value?
  • 59. OHIO Items that are broken, chipped, or soiled.Discard Junk mail. That special offer will be repeated! Newspapers at the end of every day.
  • 60. OHIO Magazines after 1 2 weeks. If you havent had time to read itDiscard within that time frame, chances are that you will never read it Clothing: anything ripped, torn, or soiled
  • 61. OHIO Leftover food (if its been in the fridge for more than a week )Discard Containers from food service places (e.g. Burger King bags, napkins, salt sachets, etc.)
  • 62. OHIO Anything that is in excess. For example: do I really need 40 shirts, 20Donate pairs of shoes, 60 pens, 3 sofas, and 30 coffee mugs?
  • 63. OHIO Ask yourself how you can helpDonate others by donating this item
  • 64. OHIO If you are internet-savvy,Donate think about posting your items to sell on Ebay.
  • 65. Organize and file systematically. Place like things together in a designated place, (e.g., place grain products in one cabinet, bottled and canned goods in another). Use broad headings when filing, (e.g., house, cars, medical, insurance, job, education). File only important papers.
  • 66. Buy and keep "just enough." Sales will be repeated. If you run out, it is not a disaster. Keep items you use--throw out others, (e.g., You have five handbags--you use one; one has a broken handle; one has a hole in the bottom; one is too small; and, one is a color you do not like. Keep the one you use; throw away the damaged ones; and give away the other two).
  • 67. Focus on functionality. Select a target, (e.g., an area such as the kitchen or even a corner of a particular room). "Excavate" the target by throwing away and organizing. Maintain the clear space. Use the cleared space only for its intended purpose.
  • 68. Seek assistance or another opinion. Individuals who hoard often have a difficult time determining what is "important vs. unimportant," "just enough vs. excessive," or "necessary vs. inconsequential." Enlisting the aid of a trusted friend or professional can provide guidance in developing appropriate guidelines and persevering with your goals.
  • 69. Acceptance Not Control No technique, coping skill, behavior therapy or practice will ultimately work if the patient remains afraid of and struggling against the sensations of arousal or the intrusions of anxious thoughts. This is the basic paradox to be learned over time.(Sally Winston, ASDI)
  • 70. Take home message Recovery occurs when the symptoms no longer matter (Claire Weekes)
  • 71. Levels of recovery Significant improvement Clutter/Hoarding is under control cognitive recovery You accept you have a problem with clutter/hoarding insight recovery The physical symptoms you get when you think about cleaning your space are information existential recovery symptoms do not matter you are able to clean your clutter anyway! (Sally Winston, ASDI)
  • 72. Remember your goals. What doyou want your space to look like?
  • 73. Remember your goals. What doyou want your space to look like?
  • 74. Remember your goals. What doyou want your space to look like?
  • 75. Remember your goals. What doyou want your space to look like?
  • 76. Remember your goals. What doyou want your space to look like?
  • 77. Remember your goals. What doyou want your space to look like?
  • 78. Remember your goals. What doyou want your space to look like?
  • 79. Remember your goals. What doyou want your space to look like?
  • 80. Remember your goals. What doyou want your space to look like?
  • 81. Remember your goals. What doyou want your space to look like?
  • 82. References Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Grayson Chapter 13, OCD Workbook. Hyman Randy Frost Noppinger Gail Steketee Edna Foa The Doubting Disease, Help for Scrupulosity and Religious Compulsions, Ciarrocchi
  • 83. Who to call to find help ASDI Dr. Sally Winston, 410 938 8454 Sally coordinates services at ASDI & will match you with a therapist or in vivo specialist trained in helping with clutter Maryland Association of Professional Organizers National Association of Professional Organizers
  • 84. New Group being formed Eve Berkow and I are forming a low-fee group for clients who struggle with clutter. The group will meet on Tuesdays at 1pm at our ASDI office in Towson, beginning sometime in 2011
  • 85. But, I have Medicare, and no onewill take my insurance! Eve Berkow at ASDI is able to work with a limited number of Medicare clients In 2011 Eve and I are beginning a group for clients who struggle with clutter . Call Eve at (410) 938-8450 if you are interested in the group or individual work.
  • 86. Presented by Stephnie Thomas, MS, NCC, LGPC Anxiety Disorders Specialist,The Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland, LLC Voicemail: (410) 938 8457 ext 2 Cell: (410) 236 1470