Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and the treatment of hoarders
23rd March 2011
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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the treatment of hoarders

Hoarding is an urban social disorder which is affecting many people in the country. The treatment procedure for this disorder usually varies from expert to expert. Compulsive hoarding is the scenario where a person chooses to collect materials and items at a dangerous rate. In some extreme patients, this behavior will lead to the accumulation of items that is so bad that the patient’s living situation is not safe anymore. Compulsive hoarding is not officially treated as a disease but many known diseases like obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia are often found in compulsive hoarders. Experts agree that the most effective method of treatment for this is cognitive behavioral therapy.

Unlike other therapy session, a cognitive behavioral therapist takes on a more practical approach. Usually sessions with compulsive hoarders will take place in the home of the hoarders. This kind of personalized attention allows the patient to be put into a scenario which will help decision making and clear thinking on the accumulate items. However, the decision making process does not involve selecting which items are of value because that is not the root cause of compulsive hoarding. Most hoarders develop a relationship with their possession and do not have the clear mind to get rid of them. Each act of throwing away items in the house will increase the anxiety attacks and feeling of desperation. This is where the therapist comes in and helps the patient ease the anxiety attacks.

The cognitive behavioral therapist will teach the hoarder strategies to cope with the fears and anxiety so that it is less stressful for the patient. With the knowledge from the therapist, the patient will know why they act the way they do and how to change their mindset.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is slightly different from many of the psychotherapy treatments because it does not seek to answer why the patient is becoming a hoarder but rather accepts the fact that the patient is a hoarder. Therefore more time is spent on learning how to deal with the situation rather than finding out why. However, cognitive behavioral therapy is not a quick solution. Actually cognitive behavioral therapy takes even longer time to work its magic but it does not have side effects like those found if medication is involved. Therefore it is a healthier method and the treatment is more lasting, even after the hoarder has stopped the sessions with the therapist.

Although it has been successful, cognitive behavioral therapy needs more evidence in terms of case studies before it can accurately be shown as a true and effective treatment for compulsive hoarding.  Experts have shown this kind of therapy does produce better results than if the patient is given medication as part of the treatment for hoarding. However, unlike medication which can be a quick fix, cognitive behavioral therapy takes longer to work and be successful.

For more information please call The CBT Partnership in Hertford on 01992 552022 or click here to visit their feature on The Best Of Hertford and see how their therapy can help with these problems.


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Victoria H

Member since: 10th July 2012

Hi there, my name's Victoria and as owner of thebestof Hertford and Ware it's my job to find and promote the best information, events and businesses that Hertford and Ware have to offer!

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