13 Aug Off
There are certain steps that can be taken so you can help a hoarder. People who suffer from hoarding disorders are often somewhat aware they have a problem but have to reach a point of wanting help in order to deal with this type of emotional illness and reclaim control of their lives. With this in mind, it is not possible to force a hoarder to seek help or even to coerce a hoarder into letting go of some of the items in his or her collection. If you know someone who has hoarding anxiety and has now admitted there is a problem, that is when you can begin to employ a few strategies to help this person out.
- Provide a listening ear to your hoarder loved one. One of the most powerful means of supporting a hoarder who has decided there is a problem is to simply listen without judgment. Doing so makes it possible for the hoarder to make sense of all the conflicting emotions that are going on in his or her mind, by articulating those feelings and getting them into the open. Instead of attempting to offer a quick solution, ask clarifying questions that help the hoarder to organize thoughts in a manner that motivates the solicitation of help with the disorder.
- Respond to requests for help. Should the hoarder mention the need to seek professional help such as seeing a counselor, ask if the person would like help in locating and selecting a therapist. If the hoarder is torn between the desire to seek help and the fear of talking to a stranger about such a personal matter, offer to go along for a session or two as moral support.
- Invest some time in helping the hoarder take small steps toward recovery. Once the therapy has begun, the hoarder may be assigned small tasks to perform in between sessions, such as cleaning out 1 corner of a room or clearing out a single closet. Offer to help with this process by holding the box or bag that will receive the discarded items, but do not take on the task of cleaning out the closet yourself. Part of the recovery is that the hoarder must be the one to make the decision of what stays and what goes.
- Exercise [Be Patient|patience] with your hoarder loved one. While it may be difficult at times to understand why the loved one cannot part with a particular object that is obviously junk to you, hold your tongue and realize it’s not time for that item to go just yet. Instead, attempt to guide your friend over to something else that may be a candidate for being tossed.
- Expect setbacks. A hoarder who successfully cleans out a closet one day may be incapable of tossing anything out the next day. Depending on the severity of the condition, the recovery period may take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more before significant and consistent progress is made.
- Remember that a hoarding disorder never completely goes away. Like many types of illnesses, the goal is to learn how to manage the disorder, not expect it to go away and never come back. Your loved one will always be the temptation to hoard. Your role as a friend or family member is to help the hoarder balance that temptation with all the benefits that come from keeping the impulse in check.
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