I was honored to speak at the Mental Health Association of San Francisco's Hoarding and Cluttering Convention. My talk on "How To Organize Your Space with a Feng Shui Template" was welcomed by the audience. They seemed to enjoy it, as much as I did, since it focused off the clutter, and more on fun and easy solutions to clearing the path.
Most educators at the convention concurred that many people with clutter and hoarding challenges do not go to therapy. Most likely because they don't see their clutter as a problem. Also, something to do with attachment issues, which means the stuff they collect is friendly and fuzzier then most people, and they have no intention of getting rid of a thing. The stuff issue is just to personal and painful.There were Professional organizers and consumers at this convention working on all kinds of solutions for over-collecting and accumulating. The researchers attending indicate it is bio/psycho/social challenge, which means genetic, psychological and societal.
Hoarding disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder may factor in to the more serious cases. Once the objects, stuff and items build up into a barricade, and the people living in the space can barely move, creating psychosis, depression, anxiety, fire hazards, and possibly even death it becomes dangerous. You can read more about these challenges in a previous article at
Social workers, marriage and family therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and educators help with hoarding and mental health challenges, but the kindness and compassion, and physical aspect of going into someone's home to transform it is usually done by professional organizers.
The boundary issues prohibit so much of what mental health practitioners provide and offer. Anyone who wants to help with a hoarding situation will want to roll up their sleeves and pitch in. When that is not comfortable for a practitioner / family member / or friend then the helping is better left to a professional organizer with a mental health background.
You either have the knack to help others get organized and to have resolve in their lives, or you don't. There is no in-between in being a professional organizer.
Getting organized is hard work, and takes tenacity, thoughtfulness and a planned strategy for both the organizer, and the person with hoarding and cluttering challenges.
For people with clutter and hoarding challenges other people, who get close to them, may pose unsafe possibilities (people wanting to get rid of their charged items, judgment, abuse, removal from their home). The objects start to take life, meaning and then a relationship is formed. Also things that are collected may hold memories, ideas, thoughts and images of a time, person, place.
The mind has now made a simple ice cream wrapper a time spent on the beach with a person's absent son, brother, husband or friend.
It is a seriously isolating. It is seriously challenging. It is seriously difficult to stop.
I have four very close friends and family members who suffer with their barricades and the one common link I found is a broken and damaged relationship with their fathers. I started to talk to clients I work with and it may be a greater possibility that the paternal modeling is essential in future organizing skills.
Marla Stone, Author, Professional Organizer, Decor and Feng Shui Idealist,
Marla is known as the organizing clutter therapist®. Marla earned her BA in Psychology and a Master's in Social Work and is the founder of I-Deal-Lifestyle, a Self and Space Organization Service.