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How to Help Your Client with Hoarding Disorder through CBT

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Hoarding disorder is a complex mental health condition characterized by excessive acquiring and difficulty discarding possessions, resulting in cluttered living spaces and significant distress.

Individuals with hoarding disorder may face challenges in organizing their belongings, which can negatively impact their daily functioning and overall well-being.

While hoarding disorder can be overwhelming, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has shown promise in helping individuals develop healthier beliefs and behaviors related to hoarding.

As a CBT coach, you have the unique opportunity to guide your client towards understanding and managing their hoarding tendencies in a supportive and empathetic manner. In this article, we will explore how you can support your clients with hoarding disorder through the application of CBT techniques.

Understanding Hoarding Disorder:

The first step in helping your client is to gain a comprehensive understanding of hoarding disorder and its impact on their life. Hoarding is not just a matter of being disorganized or messy; it involves deep-seated emotional attachments to possessions and significant distress when trying to discard them. Be empathetic and non-judgmental, creating a safe space for your client to share their experiences and emotions related to hoarding.


Educate your client about hoarding disorder to destigmatize their experiences and reduce feelings of shame or embarrassment. Help them understand that hoarding is a recognized mental health condition that can be effectively managed with appropriate support.

Identifying Cognitive Distortions:

Assist your client in identifying cognitive distortions or maladaptive beliefs related to hoarding. Common distortions may include excessive sentimentality towards possessions, fear of making wrong decisions, and unrealistic beliefs about the utility of objects. Employ cognitive restructuring to challenge these distortions and replace them with more balanced and rational beliefs.

Motivation for Change:

Explore your client’s motivation for change and their treatment goals. Hoarding disorder can be challenging to address, so understanding their motivation can guide your treatment approach.

Stress and Emotion Regulation:

Individuals with hoarding disorder often experience intense emotional distress when faced with the prospect of discarding possessions. Teach your client emotion regulation techniques to manage anxiety and stress during the decluttering process.

Developing Decision-Making Skills:

Hoarding disorder can involve difficulties in decision-making regarding what to keep and what to discard. Help your client develop decision-making skills to make informed choices about their belongings.

Gradual Exposure and Sorting:

Utilize exposure techniques to gradually expose your client to the process of sorting and discarding possessions. Start with less emotionally charged items and progress towards more challenging ones.

Organizational Skills:

Work with your client to develop organizational skills that can help them manage their possessions more effectively. Developing a structured and manageable system can prevent clutter from accumulating.

Creating a Supportive Environment:

Address the importance of a supportive environment in the recovery process. Encourage your client to seek support from family, friends, or support groups who can provide understanding and encouragement.

Recognizing the Value of Professional Help:

Acknowledge that hoarding disorder often requires professional intervention. Be prepared to provide information about therapists experienced in treating hoarding disorder through CBT.

Setting Realistic Goals:

Collaborate with your client to set realistic and achievable goals related to decluttering and organization. Recognise their progress, because to maintain motivation clients need to be rewarded.

Addressing Safety Concerns:

Hoarding disorder can lead to safety hazards, such as blocked exits or fire risks. Address safety concerns and work with your client to develop a plan for creating a safe living environment.

Developing a Relapse Prevention Plan:

Help your client develop a relapse prevention plan to maintain progress beyond the treatment period. A plan can include coping strategies for potential triggers and maintaining a clutter-free environment.

Addressing Perfectionism:

Individuals with hoarding disorder may struggle with perfectionism, leading to difficulties in discarding items that they perceive as less than perfect. Challenge perfectionist tendencies and foster a sense of self-compassion.


As a CBT coach, your guidance and support can significantly impact your client’s journey towards managing hoarding disorder more effectively. By employing cognitive restructuring, decision-making skills, and stress management techniques, you can empower your clients to address their hoarding tendencies and improve their living spaces. Recognise their successes and acknowledge their courage in facing the challenges of hoarding disorder. With your compassionate approach and the transformative power of CBT, your clients can find hope, stability, and a path towards a clutter-free and more fulfilling life.

To succeed in attracting clients, join our CBT Practitioner Diploma course. Get more information here: https://inst.org/cbt-training-course/


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