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.