Guest Posts

How To Help Hoarder Clean Their House

Hoarders House Clean Up Project

Make Sure To Check Out “Clutter Hoarding Quick Reference Guide PDF” Bottom Of This Page

We’ve all seen the reality TV shows, the amazing messes that are out there. How do you help a hoarder clean their house? So I promised you that you get to have a specialist today and I’ve got my friend Marla Dee with me. Welcome, Marla! Thank you for being here. Hoarders House Clean Up Project

Marla is this amazing person that I found who helps people to organize their space really and, Marla, you are on my show, the podcast Live On Purpose Radio and I just remember the feeling when you said, “Imagine, Dr. Hoarders House Clean Up Project

Paul, you are surrounded only by the things that you use and that you love.” I’m like, okay, you got me and you’ve devised some tools and strategies for people to use to organize their space so you were obviously that person that I was going to call for this particular issue. Some of our subscribers have asked, how do I help a hoarder clean their house. I’m just going to throw it out to you and let you respond however you would like. H̲o̲a̲r̲d̲e̲r̲s̲ ̲H̲o̲u̲s̲e̲ ̲C̲l̲e̲a̲n̲ ̲U̲p̲ ̲P̲r̲o̲j̲e̲c̲t̲

– Well and you realize that since I’ve been I was called a professional organizer for 18 years, that means I have been in thousands of homes and offices, thousands so I like to tell my audiences all the time when I speak, I have seen it all, Paul.

There is nothing that would scare me and I’ve seen the chronic disorganization and I’ve seen the hoarders and I’ve seen the pain so I was really tickled to come and talk here today about you know how can I help a hoarder to clean out their house because it’s loaded, it’s the loaded issue so you want me to dive in? – Well it is. Can I tell them what you told me on the phone? – Please.

– You can’t. – You can’t. Don’t go there. – So can I just introduce this with a little bit of psychology Hoarding, now if you found this video, you were searching for this or somebody shared it with you, this word hoarding is such a complex constellation of behaviors and emotions and manifestations, it is not a simple thing but there’s a range too and I think you’re going to help us understand that. This is something that requires a high level of specialized intervention training and experience.

I’m a clinical psychologist, you’re a professional organizer, neither of us is certified professionals to deal with hoarding the way we typically think about it but having said that, I think that there are some principles that are important to acknowledge and notice and so.. – There truly are and I like to tell people to make it easy to understand that if you needed heart surgery, you wouldn’t go to a dentist so it is an area of special need, however, just to try and help that everyday person who’s struggling, let’s give you some ideas on what you can and can’t do. So first of all, don’t go in and try and clean out the house.

I see this all the time, they get to gather this big group, right.

– We’re going to do an intervention. – We’re going to do an intervention, we’re going to go there get all that stuff out it there and that will do more harm than good, I promise it will. It would be like sending a person through a massive surgery on multiple parts of their body all at the same time so their physical body and their emotional body is connected to all that stuff and a lot of the time that stuff is their safety so if you now remove all that stuff out of there, you have just created a very scary road for them and that’s why they recreate it, that’s why they then go in and start filling that space back up again. You run in three months later and it’s in the same condition so don’t do that. – Well that’s frustrating to the person that’s intervening too.

– It is really frustrating and so what I also hear a lot is, I live with a quote-unquote, hoarder, right? Because it’s now a catchphrase it’s this thing that everybody uses right and so if you live with somebody who really has chronic disorganization going on, one of the things that I like to bring up is that you can assert your own boundaries, you can say to that husband, okay, your stuff is now filling up the garage and the basement, it does not get to come into our bedroom, it does not get to come into the living room so the common areas, you can have boundaries and say you don’t get to take over that space and you limit them to certain areas that are completely healthy and appropriate to do.

– And it tends to be more effective? – It’s way more effective, yes, because then that person still feels safe, they’re not being attacked, right? But the person can continue living with them because otherwise what happens so often is the person ends up moving out, the partner moves out because they can’t handle it.

So the other thing that you can do though is you can get a professional and the great resource that I wanted to share with all of you out here today that so many people don’t know about is the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, it’s ICD and we’ll be giving you the website address for that but it’s just and on this fabulous website, they will give you all kinds of information and resources whether you’re the person who’s struggling to try to clean up, whether you’re the family member, whether you’re a friend, whether you are a professional even who’s trying to help this individual.

It’s packed with great information and one of the pieces that they’ll give you, let’s share this with the audience, is their clutter hoarding scale. It’s a quick reference guide. – Look at that.

– Isn’t that awesome? They even use colors and you’ll notice that there are actually five different levels of clutter and hoarding and most people just glop all those together and so by using this little scale which is free, you can just download it, you can read through this and get a better understanding of what that person is going through and what level they’re at and then it’s going to make the cleanups so much easier. – So I think I’m hearing you correctly, Marla. Don’t charge in with the cavalry and start cleaning things up, it’s going to do more harm than good. First of all, we don’t have that person’s enrollment necessarily at this point.

– No, most of the time they don’t but they think that somehow they’re helping. – Right and then they wonder why it goes back to the way that it was and this causes all kinds of judgment which makes it worse, it strange relationships which makes it worse. There’s an anxiety component here and as you were saying, sometimes these people have created around them these shields stuff, it’s like protection or their safety, their comfort zone so we don’t want to go in and just destroy that but there are ways to start approaching it that could be helpful. So you’ve shared this resource, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. – It’s fantastic because here’s another fun scenario we get all the time.

. We get a call from the partner who says my wife’s going to be gone for two weeks, I want you to come in and clean it and clean the house and we don’t want to do that and this brings up another point that I really wanted to mention to each of you out there. How would you feel if somebody just showed up at the front door of your house and went inside and started moving your stuff around and cleaning it out and cleaning it up? How would that make you feel? – You’re throwing it away.

– I’m throwing it away. So as a professional organizer, I also train organizers who are launching their own businesses, I’ve done that for 14 years now and the hardest thing for me to teach them is that they’re not fixing that person, they’re not going in there and moving their stuff around because right now it’s broken and I need to fix it and so I oftentimes ask them, how would you feel about another professional organizer, myself, for example, coming into your home, walking around seeing everything and starting to move it and change it? It would be so vulnerable and so loaded.

I’m actually the only organizer that I know that intentionally hires other organizers to come into my home in my office, I’ve done this for 17 years now, I’ve had hundreds of them come in so that I can experience what that feels like so before you march in and want to clean up somebody else’s space, just ask yourself, how would you feel if somebody was doing that to you? – Which doesn’t mean you can’t help.

– It doesn’t mean you can’t help and I’ll give one tip on that what you can do, right. We’ve told people lots of things they can’t do. Start with one area so how the conversation with that person and say if we could do one area, what would it be? So would it be the bedroom? Would it be a little sitting area?

Would it be a part of the kitchen? You know, would it be their pantry so if they’re on board, yes, you really can go in you know work alongside them if you keep it super simple, okay, and you use the guidelines that you’re going to get from the ICD. Another thing that you can do is, I wrote a sweet little ebook, is it okay if I bring that up? – Oh, please, yes.

– It’s called The Art Of Letting Go.

– I love it. – And art stands for Acceptance, Release, and Trust but the reason I love this little book and one of the reasons I wrote it is that it helps that person kind of come to a place of yes, I really want to do something and then they pick a small project and then this little book steps you and that person through getting it done so it gives you this really simple step-by-step guide so that yes, you can free the top of the dresser. You know, oftentimes, it’s the floor that is covered because that’s our past and we start piling stuff down but maybe they just want that little area that they can sit in and I’d love here to just share a little story.

The last quarter that I did work with, we got to go in and help her because it was a wife of a dear friend of mine and she was getting ready to have major surgery and she needed to be able to come home and walk through her space so I met with her and we chose a part of her living room that she would want to be able to sit and we cleared that area and we cleared the kitchen so that she could go back and forth right between those two and then we did also get to do the hallway down to her bedroom but that’s as far as we could get, that’s as much as she would ever be comfortable with and then what’s kind of sad is, she had the surgery and she actually died on the process of the surgery but the family was so grateful that we had died of what we had done.

– You had made that progress.

– That we made that progress and that honestly, the last three months of her life were meaningful. You know she was getting to share some of her stories in her history with another human being and so you can also help by being a friend, by being their witness, by cheering for them, right. Don’t beat them up, don’t be negative like I’m doing to you but applaud them, encourage them, you know, involve them in what is it that they really want, help them create a vision for what it is they want.

Hoarders House Clean Up Project  – Yes, and your book is so helpful along those lines because this, it gives really the greater perspective that it’s not about a mess in your loved one’s home, that’s not what we’re talking about here, this is a much more complicated and multifaceted kind of an issue and there are stories too and I remember that’s one of the things that you helped me to understand, Marla, is that our stuff carries stories and as we connect to those stories, that’s part of what the art of letting go is. You’ll find some other really great stuff on Marla’s website, I’m just saying.

Hoarders House Clean Up Project  We’ll keep some links in the description down below so you can check there for that. Marla Dee, isn’t she amazing? And she’s helped us to understand this problem a little bit better, probably there are some things that we can all do.

[pdf-embedder url=”” title=”CLUTTER HOARDING 2019 Quick Guide”]

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Hoarders House Clean Up Project

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