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Hoarding: Finding the Door to Healing

One meeting can be all it takes to have relief wash over you. Staring around seeing piles and piles of belongings building up. Paralysis hits you in not knowing what you can get rid of, what you want to get rid of, so you keep adding to the pile. In my meetings with individuals and their families we talk about how to heal from hoarding. Helping you to find a way to reclaim your space, and bring safety and calm back to your life. 

About 1 in 50 people struggle with significant hoarding problems. So know this, you aren’t alone, your family member isn’t lazy or irresponsible. In fact, it is usually the opposite – stemming from perfectionism, or feeling too much responsibility that leads to feeling like you can’t let anything go. 

Shame, fear and isolation build up, making it extremally hard to get the support and help that you need. 

Your belongings tell a story; you deserve to explore that story and share it in a non-judgmental and compassionate environment with a knowledgeable therapist. 

What does it mean to have a hoarding disorder?

  • People with Hoarding Disorder have difficulty discarding or parting with possessions
  • This difficulty is due to a perceived need to save the items and to significant distress associated with discarding them.
  • In turn, there is an accumulation of possessions that congest and clutter active living areas and substantially compromise their intended use. 
  • The hoarding often causes high levels of stress and starts to impact many areas of your life. 

Why individuals struggle to discard their items

For each person this is different, understanding first that there isn’t something charactertically wrong with you or your loved one is important. Often hoarding develops due to a combination of things, including painful past experiences, trauma, generational hoarding and co-occurring mental health diagnoses, like depression and OCD. 

If you are struggling with hoarding you may notice it takes you a long time to organize, plan or make concrete decisions. Making all the items that are building up in your home seeming impossible to go through. 

You may notice that your loved one gets excited and joyful when getting new items and struggles with feelings of guilt, fear or anger when considering getting rid of them. These items provide a sense of safety and often are tied to our identity. 

Getting help with hoarding:

There are similarities with hoarding struggles but it is important to remember that every person is different and unique. Because of this, everyone’s journey to reclaiming their environment will look a bit different. 

Safety is always the number priority and you need someone to support you in creating a plan of action. Slowly we can expand your circle, to have family and friends find the best ways to be supportive to what you are needing. 

The goals of therapy include 

  • Helping you understand the underlying reasons that you hoard and your attachment to items
  • Increasing your ability to make decisions and increase your ability to part with items
  • Recapturing the positive role of your possessions
  • Learning organization skills in order to create a safe and functional living space

If you or someone you know struggles with hoarding, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You deserve someone who can help you take the first steps toward reclaiming a healthy relationship with your possessions and improving your overall well-being!

Melissa Manganelo, APSW 
Individual Psychotherapist
Empowerment Within LLC 


               by David TolinRandy O FrostGail Steketee

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