Tips for Working with A Collector or Hoarder

If someone you know is going through a serious collecting or hoarding challenge, they simply may not be ready to let go, as they will usually have a very different perspective than you about what’s too much. If their clutter is causing fire, falling, or other hazards and you feel the need to help them immediately, it’s still extremely important to be patient and not pushy. If this person in not responsive to you, pick up books from the library on the topic and learn about the many options for professional help. If you attempt to tackle things on your own, consider these important tips:

  • Avoid trying to persuade them to get rid of things. It often leads to arguments, the person closing up to the possibility of you helping at all, and can damage your relationship with him/her. 
  • Use encouraging verbal and body language. Be supportive and communicate with positive and genuine words and actions when discussing the situation. Be careful and aware of your tone of voice.
  • Highlight strengths. If you begin working with someone to downsize, see the whole person and don’t be concerned with problems in the home, but rather the effort to change. 

Treat this person how you want to be treated. With love, kindness, respect, and encouragement, you can be of assistance in many ways. You may one day hold the honorable title of being the trusted friend or family member there when they are ready to let go, or who guides them to seek professional help when the time is right. But first, they must be ready and willing to help themselves.

A variety of helpful information, research, and resource information on the topic of hoarding can be found in The Hoarding Handbook available online and through your public library.