I have had the privilege of running supportive educational groups for people who hoard for the past eight years. Research shows that group participation in a facilitated support group shows “much improvement” of the hoarding behaviors.*
There is something so powerful about “finding your people” as more than one person has said to me over the years. The thought that no one else will understand your secret drives many people who hoard into self-isolation. People will say that coming to a group is scary at first, but after the first meeting their starts to grow a sense of belonging that is in itself extremely therapeutic.
I had someone in the 8th week of a 10 week group stand up and say for the first time in her life “I am a hoarder.” No one laughed, no one asked her to explain in voyeuristic detail what that meant to her, not one person shook their head in disapproval.
What did happen was immediate applause spread throughout the room. An acknowledgment of her bravery and encouragement for her to continue the very hard work of understanding how to slowly hoard less. In the applause was an acknowledgment that my hoarding no longer needs to define me, but that it is an area that I need to work on: how my thoughts influence my behaviors.
Groups are growing in number as more clinicians are taking an interest in working with people who hoard and also their families. Check to see if your area has a hoarding task force to guide you to find a group near you.
Please spread the word that a group for Adult Children of People who Hoard will begin on Wednesday, January 29th and run for six consecutive weeks. The group will be held at the Sutton Home for Women (men also welcome) in Peabody, MA from 6:45-8 p.m. Plenty of free parking and refreshments will be served. For more information e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Muroff, J., Bratiotis, C., and Steketee, G. Treatments for Hoarding Behaviors: A review of the evidence. (2011) Clinical Social Work, 39, 406-423