BHT runs a training programme open to BHT members of staff and to outside agencies. I never cease to be amazed at the wide range of courses on offer. This year, for the first time, we are offering a course to explore ways of working with clients who hoard. This is a growing issue for many landlords. Click here for more details about this course which is next being run on 26th November, but you can book now! The course is led by Libby Carter who has written the following:
Some thoughts on hoarding disorder
In 2013, hoarding disorder was put in the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5 as a recognised condition. Prior to this it was considered to be an obsessive compulsive disorder, however it is now considered to be distinct from OCD because people with hoarding disorder experience the thrill of acquisition and this trait is not present in OCD.
Hoarding disorder is characterised by the excessive acquisition of belongings, which often seem not to have value to those who are not compelled to hoard. This leads to the hoarder’s living space becoming so cluttered that the space can’t be used for its intended purpose. In most cases, the entire home becomes affected by the clutter with whole rooms becoming inaccessible, or accessible only through tunnels in the clutter.
Hoarding disorder cuts across gender, age and ethnicity. It can be experienced by anyone, but it is more likely to affect people who are related to someone else with hoarding disorder or OCD. The reasons why someone might start hoarding are not fully understood, but there is often a connection to trauma, or something that the person has experienced as a trauma. The important fact is that the event was experienced as traumatic by the person with hoarding disorder. People with hoarding disorder often find decision making difficult, or are fearful that they won’t remember events if they don’t have objects to remind them.
People with hoarding disorder develop beliefs about objects such as believing that they need them to prompt their memories, or that the object needs them to rescue it. For some people, being surrounded by things makes them feel safe.
People with hoarding disorder are often ambivalent about their living conditions, in that they might feel that they want their home to be tidier and more spacious, but they also feel that it is very important that they keep all of their possessions, even if they have not seen them or had access to them for years.
When discussing someone’s hoarding disorder with them, it is usually counter-productive to come from the perspective of them being a person who needs help clearing rubbish out of their home. This generally sounds as offensive to them as it would to anyone else who was being told that their home was full of rubbish. Similarly, suggesting to someone with hoarding disorder that they throw all their belongings out is just like suggesting to anyone that they throw all their belongings out. Working with someone to address their hoarding disorder takes time and understanding and most importantly, it requires them to retain choice and control throughout the intervention.