For the last 10 years, Clutter Trucker has been devoted to transforming the lives of those with hoarding disorder through integrity, compassion and hard work.
What we’ve learned about Hoarding Disorder:
When we were exposed to hoarding in our organizations infancy, our staff had the same thought many have: How can someone live like this?
Many see the hoarding and the shock of it hinders their ability to understand the person that hoards. We see a mess and we know how to clean it up, so we endeavor to do just that.
But as you probably know, the task is not that simple and neither is the typical hoarding client. The complexity of hoarding is many layers deep and mental health professionals are only now beginning to understand it fully.
The difficulties in working with the hoarding population are many. In the past, Hoarding had been classified as a specific form of OCD, recently it earned its own distinction as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association.
Those that hoard often present with co-occurring disorders, including depression, anxiety disorder, past traumatic events (Big T), addiction and personality disorders. If these disorders are not treated congruently with hoarding, ultimately attempts to treat the latter will fail.
Hoarding clients are also a very resistant population. Many are without the capacity to truly see the impact of their behavior. Unlike those who suffer from OCD, they rationalize their situation endlessly, especially when confronted. Their denial can seem impenetrable.
We’ve also learned that our clients typically respond best when there are two specifics types of parties represented to aid in the effort:
- One party that applies pressure through consequence, such as adult protective services threatening to remove the client from the home.
- The other party should provide understanding, sympathy and gentle coaching. Clutter Trucker often fills the latter role.
Hoarding behavior is a symptom and is manifested from a psychiatric disorder. So if Clutter Trucker were to show up at a hoarders home with 10 empty dump trucks and fill them in a day (as seen on TV), we’d be removing the symptom without treating the underlying problem.
While we have the resources to empty a hoard in ONE day, we’ve found it to be simplistic and frankly, traumatizing to the client. Asking someone with hoarding disorder to discard a magazine can be just as anxiety producing as asking you or me to throw away our wedding rings. Imagine 10 dump trucks of wedding rings!
At Clutter Trucker, we’ve come to develop a process for ongoing success. Through trial and error and with the assistance of mental health professionals, we’ve created a system that’s unique and unprecedented. Outlined below are the many ways Clutter Trucker has learned systems to work with our clients – not merely the hoard.
- Project Management: We have on staff an amazing Project Manager that oversees all hoarding cases. She has a degree in psychology and is hungry to learn and adapt our processes according to evidence based best practices and create lasting success with hoarding disorder.
- Training: Our team is thoroughly trained to work with hoarding clients. That means that they understand the principles of resistance and how to break through it. Through formal workshops and role play we train our staff so they’re equipped with some of the tools of CBT, conflict resolution and motivational interviewing.
- Compassion and Trust: Those that hoard don’t allow people in their homes. They are ashamed and fearful. Often our team members will be the first people in their homes for years. Slowly and at the pace of our clients, we develop a bridge of trust through empathy and compassion. We never judge. The relationships that result are unique and profound in the client’s life. This gives us a platform to help them with their problem – a platform others in their lives would find impossible to achieve.
- Strategy: At Clutter Trucker, we understand that every client is different. Each case will begin with an assessment from our Project Manager. Through this process, we determine the clients background, living situation, the severity of the hoard, other agencies involved; whether there’s outside pressure to comply, friends or family involved, co-occurring disorders, physical health problems and financial considerations. Armed with this information we collaborate with the client to determine their goals. Then we create a unique plan to move forward. Instead of showing up with 10 empty trucks, we send one or two crew members who will work with our clients in two hour increments to start. With this, we begin to build a platform of trust. So traumatic is the process of organizing for those with hoarding disorder, we’ve found that two hours is about all they can handle emotionally to start. As time goes on, many find the strength to go longer. Should we need to haul away junk, we are more than equipped to do so. Our haulers are also trained to work with hoarding clients. We send regular progress reports to our referents so that our clients are treated holistically.
- Ongoing Success: Again, hoarding is a psychiatric illness. Just because a client has a clean home, does not mean they have the tools to maintain organization. Just as many addicts find helpful ongoing tools to manage their problem, we’ve found the best probability for success for our clients is to get lasting help. This could include therapy and support groups as well as monthly visits from Clutter Trucker. While we cannot facilitate treatment, we are in a unique position to encourage our clients to seek it out. We have many clients that we visit once or twice a month for a few hours at a time. This helps them to stay accountable and increased their motivation to maintain a clean home.