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Compulsive Hoarding and Acquiring: Group and Individual Treatment

Help is on the way: Support for individuals, couples and families in the community.

CHAG is a 12 session group program addressing problems with compulsive hoarding and acquiring.

Compulsive hoarding is where individuals have difficulty discarding items. This leads to the person's living spaces kitchens, bedrooms, lounge rooms, etc. becoming cluttered to the point where they can no longer be used for their designated purpose. For example, people may no longer be able to cook in the kitchen, or may not be able to sleep in their beds due to their "stuff" getting in the way.

Swinburne University's group treatment program for hoarding is based on the successful individual program developed by Randy Frost and Gail Steketee in the US. It is based on the principles of "cognitive behaviour therapy" and aims to help people develop the skills to deal with their hoarding themselves (e.g., decision making, tolerance for emotions associated with sorting). Note that in this program, participants remain in control of their possessions at all times indeed, the therapists will not touch people's possessions without explicit permission.

We have found that being in a group with other individuals can in itself be very helpful for hoarding. In particular, individuals with hoarding can often feel quite ashamed of their issues, perhaps refusing to let people into their homes so as to not reveal the hoarding, and it can therefore be very powerful to meet others with the same problem. Group members also help by giving helpful suggestions for dealing with the hoarding, by giving increased insight into the problem through their shared understanding, and by giving encouragement to people dealing with hoarding.

The hoarding program was adapted for Australia by the Psychology Clinic with Prof Michael Kyrios' research group the BPsyC research centre including clinical psychologists Dr Richard Moulding, Dr Maja Nedeljkovic and Dr Christopher Mogan.

Program Details

The compulsive hoarding group will be open to eight participants and it will be run on a low cost basis. Medicare rebates may be available for those who would like to participate. The Compulsive Hoarding and Acquiring Group runs several times per year. Please note that there is a 4 - 6 month waiting list for this group. If you would like individual therapy in the meantime, please contact us.

If you would like to find out more or register your interest in this group, please contact the Project Officer (Tuesdays - Fridays) on (03) 9214 5528 or send an email to psychprojects@swin.edu.au.