Overcoming Hoarding Behaviors through Empathetic, Humane, and Ethical Methods w/ Elaine Birchall

[Episode 50 of The Intentional Clinician]

Paul Krauss MA LPC interviews Hoarding Behavior Expert, Author, Consultant and Therapist Elaine Birchall, MSW, about her work helping people all over the globe be able to overcome hoarding behaviors. Elaine is a hoarding behavior and intervention specialist and coauthor of Conquer the Clutter: Strategies to Identify, Manage, and Overcome Hoarding (with Suzanne Cronkwright).

Paul and Elaine discuss how to demystify and de-stigmatize hoarding, starting with defining what the disorder actually entails. Popular television programs that focus on hoarding show only one aspect of the disorder and minimize important aspects of the etiology and treatment of the disorder. Since more than 19 million American hoard, it is important that clinicians be aware of how it impacts clients and their families using research-based information, not popular psychology. Elaine conducts this type of research, and discusses some of her findings on the podcast.

Treating hoarding is a niche area, and clinicians need to be well-informed when working with clients who exhibit hoarding behaviors. Elaine offers advice for clinicians who are assessing their clients and offers training programs for clinicians. Hoarding often affects families, not just individuals, so it is also important that they are informed about the disorder to avoid causing further harm. Contrary to popular opinion, the solution to hoarding is not merely eradication of all belongings, so anyone involved with hoarding needs to be aware of this.

On the flip side of hoarding, minimalism has become a trend among the younger generation. Elaine discusses the pros and cons of minimalism and how it can become problematic if left unchecked. If you are interested in learning more about when to get help for hoarding or other problematic behaviors, see Elaine’s resources below:

More about Elaine Birchall:

  • Director of Birchall Consulting & founder of the Canadian National Hoarding Coalition
  • Helps individuals with hoarding disorder to understand and change their relationship to things—and to clean up their environment
  • Trains mental health professionals across North America on how to treat folks who hoard and counsel family members impacted

You can take a quiz to find out if Hoarding is impacting your life here:


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