HCN News & Notes

Conference to Promote Understanding of Hoarding Research and Treatment

HADLEY — To promote greater understanding of research and treatment for hoarding disorder, a conference titled “Hoarding Disorder: Recovery Is Real” will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Hadley Farms Meeting House, 41 Russell St., Hadley. Jesse Edsell-Vetter, stabilization case manager, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership Hoarding Team, will be the keynote speaker. CEUs will be offered for licensed professionals. Funding for the conference is being provided by a grant from the Center for Human Development.

According to the American Psychiatric Assoc., people with hoarding disorder excessively save items that others may view as worthless. Typically, they save random items they feel have value or that they may need in the future. Their persistent difficulty parting with possessions leads to clutter that disrupts their ability to use their living or work spaces.

People with hoarding disorder often feel safer surrounded by the things they save, but items can fill, block, and clutter active living spaces at home. Hoarding can cause problems in social or work settings, too, including hindering a productive and safe environment. Serious hoarding can lead to fire hazards, tripping hazards, and health -ode violations, as well as interpersonal strain and conflict, isolation, and loneliness.

“Contrary to negative pop-culture portrayals, people who have accumulated a problematic amount of possessions tend to be creative, intelligent, and resourceful,” said Lee Shuer, a consultant with Mutual Support and the creator of WRAP for Reducing Clutter. “Such people are mostly just unsuccessful in the pursuit of moderation, although some people call us the ‘H’ word: hoarders. I call myself a finder/keeper because hoarding has become such a derogatory label, helped in no small part by sensational reality TV shows. People like us who acquire and keep too much stuff are stuck, hung up on something emotional, something unseen beneath the surface of life. What can be seen is merely the tip of the iceberg. It’s complicated. But hoarding disorder is real, and so is recovery.”

For individuals and families to heal, Shuer went on, there needs to be a sense that their community supports them, and has hope for their success. “Such support is effectively demonstrated when municipalities develop hoarding task forces that bring together peers, mental-health counselors, health-department representatives, police and firefighters, elder-services counselors, housing experts, and code enforcers to promote understanding and solutions that aid healing. The conference on Oct. 18 is an opportunity to demonstrate such support.”

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