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Online Therapy for Hoarding

Goda Brzozauskaite
  • Dec 20, 2021
  • 6 min read
Concentrated financial company manager holds white piggy bank and shakes sitting at grey office

Did you know that globally, 342 million people meet the criteria for hoarding disorder?

The disorder was introduced in the DSM-5 in 2013. Before then, it was treated as a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Hoarding disorder is defined as having difficulties getting rid of or parting with possessions due to a perceived need to save them.

For people who hoard, attempting to part with possessions leads to distress. Consequently, the individual decides to save these items, and as a result, they end up with clutter.

Hoarding can have massive psychological effects on the hoarder and their family. One finds themselves caught between two fires. Either dealing with anxiety after getting rid of items or having their social circles and space shrink every day. 

One of the main negative effects of hoarding is the health concern it poses. Due to the large amounts of clutter, it’s difficult to clean the home, and as a result, the house becomes an ideal place for bacteria and germs. Hoarding also comes with other consequences, such as creating fire hazards and making it difficult to move around the house.

As you can imagine, treating hoarding is considerably complex. It certainly involves more than just getting rid of belongings. Therapy is an effective way to work through the underlying issues that might influence one’s hoarding habits. Hoarding therapy doesn’t only help the hoarder, but their family and friends as well.

Is Online Therapy for Hoarding Effective?

As I mentioned earlier, hoarding is more than just having a close attachment with items and belongings. It’s a psychological condition that results in one saving things that others might consider worthless. Remember that not wanting to get rid of your childhood blanket does not make you a hoarder. 

Hoarders desire to hold on to excessive and applicable items that are not useful or sentimental. They feel like most things are sentimental, functional, and valuable. As a result, they do not want to let go of them, and then approached with the idea of getting rid of some belongings, they can be overwhelmed with anxiety.

In an attempt to help mediate the problem, family and friends might offer to get rid of the stuff or clean up the house. Should you be close to someone with a hoarding disorder, the last thing you want to do is clean up their place and get rid of their stuff. It will likely trigger anxiety and will most certainly not make the problem disappear, as the hoarding behavior will likely continue after that. 

Studies have shown that hoarding is associated with depression, general anxiety disorder (GAD), social phobia, and OCD, among other disorders. These psychological problems result in one becoming attached to their belongings. Traumatic loss is also associated with hoarding. When one loses a loved one under traumatic conditions, they can become scared to get rid of this person’s belongings. Online therapy is shown to be an effective way to deal with these problems.

The nature/nurture debate has clarified that both genetic and social factors influence our behavior. We cannot ignore the role genetics play in developing psychological conditions. Just like most psychological disorders, hoarding can be hereditary. About 50% of people with hoarding disorder have a family member who also hoards.

As a result of the many underlying issues that result in hoarding, therapy for hoarding is an effective way to tackle this problem. A therapist will work with the individual and ensure they understand the factors resulting in hoarding. Once they know these exact issues, they can deal with the problem from its root.

Hoarders often do not want to change their behavior as that causes distress. Online counseling will provide the much-needed motivation to help them understand the need for behavior change.

Considering that hoarders are often unaware of the negative implications of their hoarding behavior, the burden to seek help often falls upon the family and friends. The journey to recovery is not as smooth as we would want it to be. It’s important to note that the problem won’t go away overnight, just as it doesn’t come into existence overnight. It will take some time, but online therapy can guarantee higher chances of success.

How Is Online Therapy for Hoarding Beneficial? 

Although there is no one known cause of hoarding, it is a result of a wide range of psychological, biological, and social factors attributed to the condition. Hoarding disorder treatment aims to deal with these underlying issues.

Hoarders are often unaware of the adverse effects of their hoarding habits. The family and friends get to observe these obstructive implications first. One of the most important aspects of dealing with hoarding is acknowledging that the addiction is unfavorable.

Therapy for hoarding will help the hoarder understand that their behavior is obstructive. The professional will work with the individual to ensure that they create a room for the hoarder to understand how to reduce the harm caused by hoarding. A therapist will create a non-confrontational environment, which can be impossible for relatives.

In addition, online counseling provides continuous support. Due to the psychological issues associated with hoarding, hoarders require patience to deal with the problem effectively. Although families and friends can be supportive, in most cases, they lose hope as they don’t see the results they will be hoping to see at a fast pace.

A therapist will be patient enough to provide the much-needed continuous support constructively. It will help the hoarder realize that someone is observing and appreciating their efforts in dealing with the condition.

As treatment can take longer, online therapy is a sound option for individuals dealing with hoarding disorder. Therapy is an affordable long-term treatment option that will offer support for an extended period at minimal costs.

Additionally, a therapist specializing in hoarding may not be accessible in your area. The beauty of the internet is that we can now access almost all services we need with just a few clicks. You can consider online therapy, which will provide you with everything you need to manage hoarding disorder.

At DoMental, we will help you find the best therapist for you!

Other Treatment Options

Upon diagnosis, underlying conditions can be identified, such as anxiety or depression. Several treatment options, such as antidepressants or Benzodiazepines, can help with these problems. Dealing with these underlying conditions can make it easier to cope with the hoarding disorder itself.

Family therapy is another effective measure to mediate hoarding. This form of therapy can be done either in person or online and will help the whole family understand why the person hordes and what they can do to help deal with the problem. Family therapy will also allow the family members to support the hoarder during the treatment.      

I Know Someone Who Hoards, How Can I Help?

Offering help to someone who hoards can be challenging because you want to help them but don’t want to offend them. Thankfully, there are ways to offer support constructively.

To get the most out of online therapy, one has to be willing to get help. Your tone is very important when you raise the issue. Rather than being angry, try to be supportive and let the person know that you are worried about their hoarding habits.

Remember to listen more than you talk to create a space for them to share their experiences which will help you understand their behavior.

In addition, you need to know that you can’t control another person’s behavior. The best you can do is share your opinion. However, the final decision is up to them. You can’t impose a decision to go for therapy or any other form of treatment.

Online Therapy for Hoarding Can Help

Hoarding is a serious problem that affects hoarders and those close to them. The causes of hoarding disorder are unclear, and the treatment process can be complex. Online therapy has many advantages and can be used in conjunction with several other treatments to maximize the chances of getting better.

Online therapy for hoarding can be done from the comfort of your home, thereby making it suitable for individuals with hoarding disorder. At DoMental, we have therapists who can help you and your loved ones overcome hoarding.

Reach out to us so we can be part of your journey to recovery!