Chronic clutter? There’s a new class for that

Washington County

A new Washington County workshop wants to help those with hoarding disorder

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new workshop series in the Portland area aims to help people with hoarding disorder find relief from the strain of owning too many things.

“Buried in Treasures” is a 16-week course being offered for the first time in Washington County to help adults who suffer from compulsive acquiring, saving and hoarding.

The series takes a small peer support group approach at helping people regain control of their lives by practicing exercises to improve discarding and organizing skills.

Chris Batman-Mize, the aging services coordinator with Washington County Disability, Aging and Veteran Services, hopes the class has a big impact on those who take it.

Chris Batman-Mize with Washington County Disability, Aging and Veteran Services, Aug. 7, 2019. (KOIN)

“We understand that 16 weeks is a huge time commitment but it’s taken years for people to collect all their stuff and it’s going to take time to unlearn all those habits,” she said.

Experts say about 5% of the U.S. population has a hoarding disorder but that figure is likely much higher due to a lack of self-reporting.

The effects of hoarding are far-reaching and take more than just a toll on a person’s living space.

Aside from creating a potentially physically unhealthy environment, those who hoard often experience isolation due to the shame and stigma attached to the disorder.

Compulsive collecting often begins with a traumatic life event, such as the death of a spouse and correcting the problem isn’t as simple as just cleaning the house. Hoarding can also be tied up in other disorders such as depression, anxiety, paranoia, OCD and ADHD.

“That’s not addressing the root of the issue; that’s not getting the person to actually recognize ‘oh, this event was when I started that behavior. Let’s think back to why I needed to begin the collecting, the acquiring, the saving,” said Batman-Mize.

A booklet for the “Buried in Treasure” workshop series, Aug. 7, 2019. (KOIN)

“Buried in Treasures” works to uncover the contributing factors to pave the way for long-term success.

“We want people to understand that we support them, we’re here for them,” said Batman-Mize. “If they want to contact us and get more info and referrals, we encourage them to do so because there is help and there’s hope.”

The organizers of “Buried in Treasures” say 73% of those who have completed the series are “much or very much” improved compared to collectors who haven’t.

The program is free. For more information or to register for “Buried in Treasures,” call 503.846.3060.

Additional local help for those with hoarding disorder:

Clutterers Anonymous | 503.674.8893

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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