Psychology of Clutter and Hoarding and the IOCDF Clutter Image Rating Scale

NAPO Conference 2014 Report

by Gayle Goddard, professional organizer and owner of The Clutter Fairy

I recently participated in the National Association of Professional Organizers 2014 Annual Conference and Organizing Expo in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference is a great four days of new products, great education, and lots of fun with colleagues.

I attended a fascinating session entitled “Distracted & Obsessed: Helping ADHD and/or OCD Clients” presented by Dr. Roberto Olivardia, a clinical psychologist and instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He’s an ADHD/OCD specialist who has ADD himself. He gave a great discussion on the differences between OCD and ADD and how those differences affect one’s ability to organize. Both disorders affect executive function—the set of mental processes that allow us to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space—but in completely different ways, and both can lead to hoarding behaviors.

Clutter Image Rating Scale (sample)Another organizer in the session shared a helpful resource that visually represents levels of clutter or hoarding. Check out the Clutter Image Rating Scale from the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). This PDF guide shows photos of several sample rooms that range from completely clean (photo #1) to a hoarding situation (photo #9). The document is designed to help people get an accurate sense of the seriousness of a clutter problem.

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