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Clean out the Clutter: How to Deal with Compulsive Hoarding

The piles of dusty camping gear, tools and holiday decorations in your garage may simply be an annoyance you are waiting to organize, but for the estimated two million Americans who suffer from compulsive hoarding, those spare items are just a glimpse of what lays inside their homes.

Compulsive hoarders are characterized by a strong compulsion to collect unneeded or useless items. They are often unable to discard items for the fear that they may be needed or have value in the future. Every surface in their homes, from countertops to stairs, may be covered in piles of junk. When the stacks of old newspapers and food containers threaten to overwhelm them, it can spread to their vehicles, backyards and garages. While some may poke fun at hoarders, the condition can lead to unsanitary living environments, fire hazards and even risk of injury from falling objects.

How can you find out if you are a hoarder or just disorganized? Ask yourself these questions to find out how serious your problem is:

- Do you become anxious at the thought of throwing away your things?
- Is your home so cluttered you are unable to use spaces for their
  original purpose?
- Do everyday tasks take longer because of the clutter?
- Does the clutter affect your ability to maintain relationships or
- Are loved ones distressed by the condition of your home and
  encouraging you to seek help?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above and believe you are a hoarder, the California Association Marriage and Family Therapists encourages you to seek help from a licensed therapist to:

- Discover why you feel the need to hoard
- Learn how to organize your possessions so that you know what to
- Utilize relaxation skills to avoid nervous collecting
- Develop and maintain healthy habits

Do not let hoarding take over your home or your life. If you believe you are affected by compulsive hoarding, and it affects your ability to lead a normal life, consider seeking professional consultation. A licensed therapist can help you identify the underlying issues behind hoarding and assist you on your way to recovery.

For more information about Marriage and Family Therapists, or to locate a therapist in your area, please visit

The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, with 27 chapters throughout the state, is an independent professional organization, representing the interests of licensed marriage and family therapists. CAMFT provides as a resource to the public looking for marriage and family therapists located in California. For more information about CAMFT, please call (858) 292-2638 or visit

Media Contact: Amber Albrecht
Porter Novelli
Phone: (619) 687-7015 or (949) 500-2535