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3 Highlights From My Talk At The CT Conference on Hoarding

3 Highlights From My Talk At The CT Conference on Hoarding

Last week I spoke at the 3rd Annual CT Conference on Hoarding titled, "Community Response to Hoarding." It was held at Central CT State University and there were over 300 people in attendance. You can read my earlier post about it HERE.


There were speakers continuously throughout the day and at the very end we all sat on a Q & A panel to field questions. The title of my presentation was "Hoarding Help from Professional Organizers: The Who, What, How of the Professional Organizing Industry". 


As I researched for my talk, there were a few things that stuck out for me and I'm sharing these highlights with you below:


1. In regards to the "Who," the Professional Organizing industry is very much in its infancy stage as we formed in the 80s. Because of this, many POs have come to the profession having had another career doing something else. Just thinking about the Organizers in our CT Chapter we have backgrounds including: education, law, medical, business and human services. Because of this POs often tend to specialize or create niches within their businesses pulling upon the skill-set from their past professional life. I'm a good example of how I combine my social work skills with my organizing abilities.


2. The "What" we do, boils down to the enhancing the lives of our clients through organizing principles and processes and by the transferring of skills. I shared during my talk of how I was recently at a hoarding training conducted by Dr. David Tolin, an expert in the field. He showed a slide during his presentation that showed missed work days for people with hoarding disorder versus people with other mental illnesses. On average a person struggling with hoarding misses about 7 work days a month from their job. That's more than people with depression, anxiety, bipolar and PTSD. The only ones missing more work days were individuals diagnosed with a major psychosis, like schizophrenia. Just thinking about that makes me realize how much hoarding negatively impacts one's life and how we as Pro Organizers have the ability to enhance their functioning on so many levels.


3. Lastly, the "How" of what we do is more than just tidying, color coding, alphabetizing and pretty-ing up a space. I stressed that our jobs aren't to make homes look "Pinterest-worthy." I won't go into details from my talk about the methodology of our work, but I did stress at the Conference one particular tool that we use with hoarding cases and that's the Clutter Image Rating Scale. This is a 9-level image scale that depicts various rooms of one's home. Once you get above a level 4/5, it typically means you're dealing with a hoarded environment. They have Rating Scales for living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms. The client can point to which picture corresponds to how their home looks. It's a nice tool to use as it creates common language between the client and related professionals. What the conference participants really found neat was when I shared that it's an app! It's so great to always have this tool at your fingertips. 


A couple of my colleagues took some pictures of me at the conference and you can head over to my FB page to see them! And feel free to "like" my page while you're there. 


A video of the Conference is being made available via the CT Train website - check back in a few weeks as it's currently being formatted and uploaded. CT Train is a learning resource coordinated by the Connecticut Department of Public Health where you can access valuable materials, courses, and trainings. 



Categories: Mental Health / Hoarding


  • How great that you can combine your different areas of expertise into one package! I'm sure your clients benefit greatly. I've only helped with one hoarding situation for an episode of Hoarders:Family Secrets, but continue to be amazed at the depth of the issues these situations involve. I will be sure to check out that app! Thanks for sharing with the POBC readers.
    2/1/2018 2:36:51 PM Reply
    • @Olive Wagar: Thanks for chiming in, Olive! What a great experience to have worked on an episode of Hoarders! I hope there's a blog post about it. ;)
      2/2/2018 9:02:44 AM Reply
  • I was interested to learn that there's an app for the Clutter Hoarding Scale. That must be a very useful tool for you and your clients!
    1/5/2018 9:54:18 AM Reply
    • @Janet Barclay: The app is a lifesaver! In this world of technology, we always seem to have our phones handy so it's great to be able to pull up these scales handily.
      1/9/2018 12:26:10 PM Reply
  • I would love to find out where i could get These cards that are color coded to help you Figute out how to judge where your clutter is In terms of chaos. Great reading
    6/18/2017 7:23:02 AM Reply
    • @sandra cox: Thanks for stopping by, Sandra! You can click the blue link in the post that says Clutter Image Rating Scale. The link will bring you to the sheets with the images and you can print them out. They don't come in individual cards. Or you can get the app right on your phone; search "Clutter Image Rating."
      6/19/2017 4:09:48 PM Reply
  • Wow - I am blown away by that statistic showing how much work people with hoarding disorder miss relative to other disorders. Even I am surprised by this. The visuals of the clutter scale are very helpful. I work with clients mostly 4 and below. I am so thankful for all the good work being done to alleviate this heavy weight and bring relief to those who are suffering.
    6/5/2017 8:18:47 AM Reply

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