Great Hoarding Myths – People Hoard Because They Grew Up In The Depression

Great Hoarding Myths

People Hoard Because They Grew Up in the Depression

When I tell people that I specialise in working with people who hoard the first thing they say is, “You need to meet my mother/brother/neighbour…”  It seems everybody knows someone who they deem to have an unhealthy amount of stuff.

The second thing I often hear is that  people hoard because they grew up in the depression.

Beliefs about frugality and waste can contribute to hoarding but only if they are disproportionately held. And certainly not everyone who grew up in the depression or experienced deprivation hoards.  The fact that your mother insists on carefully folding and reusing foil can be a little frustrating (as in make you want to snatch it from her hands, wad it in a tight ball and throw it way, frustrating) but it doesn’t make her a hoarder.

However, if your mother is accumulating vast amounts of seemingly random objects has difficulty throwing anything out and is sleeping sitting up in a chair because her home is too cluttered to get to her bed, she may well be a hoarder.

The DSM V (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) recognises hoarding as a diagnosable and treatable behavioural mental health condition.

Hoarding is often associated with other mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and bi-polar disorder. There are also personality traits that put people at risk of hoarding, one of the most surprising being perfectionism. I know a woman whose kitchen is unusable because it is littered with hundreds of empty food containers but she refuses to discard them until she is able to wash and dry them “properly”. She is also concerned that the council may not be sorting and disposing of recycled materials in a responsible manner.  As we stood in her squalid kitchen she said to me, “I simply can’t let them go as they are….I’m a perfectionist you know”.

Information processing difficulties such as categorisation, attention and decision making can also contribute to hoarding behaviour.

In short, hoarding is a complex behavioural mental health condition.  Growing up in hard times may influence our beliefs about responsibility and waste but to say it is the reason people hoard seriously oversimplifies the causes of this complex disorder.

If you are concerned about someone who hoards the important thing to understand is that the clutter may just be the physical manifestation of a more serious problem.  Clearing the symptom doesn’t fix the problem!

Which leads me to the next myth – A Big Clean Out is the Best Way to Help a Hoarder!

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I want to be a Professional Organiser. What do I have to do?

Thank you to Roz Howland, The Productivity Professional for this insightful article on what it means to be a Professional Organiser.


I want to be a Professional Organiser. What do I have to do?

28th Oct 13

Nothing. Well, ok, slight exaggeration.

Of course Professional Organisers (POs) work hard, with most being solo or small business owners. The stats in Australia tell us that  it takes between 2 – 5 years for a small business to be successful (profitable). We also know, that these 2-5 years involve long hours, hard work, lots of learning and adapting to an ever-changing market place.

As a relatively new and emerging industry, our members bring a wealth of past career skill and experience to their role of PO.  Many of us also engage in related professional development: public speaking, business building, marketing, networking and more.

But we know, those are not the essence of our role as a PO.

To be excellent POs, we need more targeted professional development.

In Australia’s rapidly increasing home business economy, anyone can register a business name and start trading as a PO.  Why? Because we are a young industry and still developing industry standards for Australasia.

AAPO  started the formal process in 2009 with the commencement of the Accreditation program. At the time of writing there are:

  • 9 Accomplished members and
  • 33 EXPERT Members

That’s around 20% of membership that is AAPO accredited.

Professional development options are available at many forum meetings and of course at AAPO’s annual conference. Additionally, some experienced AAPO members offer educational workshops, courses and tele-classes.

But why bother doing any of it? And what else is out there?

5 Reasons to Bother….

Ongoing professional develoment helps POs to:

  1. better understand and serve our clients
  2. increase credibility and profesionalism of our industry
  3. adhere to AAPO’s Code of Ethics
  4. build our businesses and
  5. keep us interested AND interesting!

And a bonus reason… Promotion. Maybe even great photos like this one, of Wendy Hanes accepting her CPO-CD®  Certificate.

Wendy Hanes accepting her CPO CD Certificate.

L – R Certification Program Director, Laurene Livesey Park, AAPO member, Wendy Hanes and ICD President, Val Sgro.

Wendy is the ONLY PO in Australasia to have been awarded this level of Certification.

It’s a big deal.

It requires nearly 2 years of study, both theory and practical, 3 exams and numerous mentor hours to achieve this recognition.  It’s a proud moment for Wendy, also a proud moment for AAPO.  As the ICD website states: “The CPO-CD® program is specifically geared to improve the quality of service, techniques and knowledge professional organizers provide to their chronically disorganized (CD) clients.”

ICD also offers a range of educational programs both for the general public and for POs.

For POs who don’t specialise in CD clients, the education offered by ICD will still provide a deeper understanding of your clients. As well as excellent information which better equips you to speak to the media. (You know those awkward moments when the interviewer takes the interview off in the hoarding direction because that’s what they love to do! And you are floundering for a response.. Know what to say. Or don’t say it at all!)

AAPO has other members who have also achieved internationally recognised organising qualifications :

  • Karen Koedding  is a Certified Professional Organiser (CPOs) and holds Level 1 – ICD
  • Roz Howland is a Certified Productive Environment Specialist (CPES)
  • Angela Esnouf and Angela Hunter have both earned their Level II ICD certificates, the only 2 POs in Australasia to have this Certification.

The dedication is impressive. The quantities, not so. Yet.

Holders of these qualifications currently represent less than 3% of AAPO’s membership.

That number can only grow.  And grow it must, if we want to be better POs, with better businesses, that serve our clients better.

What ongoing professional development will you commit to?



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