What is Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral Therapy is a type of therapy that treats behaviors with the belief that unhealthy or self-destructive behaviors could be changed or substituted with healthy behaviors. The focus of treatment is on problems and how to solve or overcome them with a healthy response or new healthy behavior.

Types of Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on problem solving with changing thoughts and beliefs which drive actions and moods into healthier thoughts and desirable behavioral patterns. An example would be to recognize self-doubt in certain situations and use mental exercises or behaviors to overcome those bad thoughts in the situation and allow you progress.

 System desensitization

System desensitization is therapy often used to treat phobias as this therapy first teaches relaxation techniques and breathing exercises before being repeatedly exposed to the object of the phobia or the idea of being exposed to the object of the phobia.

Aversion therapy

Aversion therapy is therapy that associates a negative stimulus with the behavior they are trying to change. This is commonly used to treat substance abuse such as smoking or alcoholism where a negative stimulus such as a bad memory is associated with the substance thus lessening the desire or reaching a complete aversion to the behavior they want to change.

Behavior Therapy is Effective at Treating:

  • Hoarding
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Self-Harm
  • Substance Abuse
  • Phobias
  • Social Anxiety
  • Anger Issues
  • Panic Disorders

How effective is it?

Behavioral Therapy has been highly effective at treating negative behaviors and have reported some benefits from treatments. Cognitive Behavioral Play therapy is also very effective with treating children.

Behavioral Exercises and Treatments

Cogbtherapy.com covers many details on some of the exercises and treatments of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) including: 

  • Cognitive Restructuring
  • Activity Scheduling
  • Graded Exposure
  • Successive Approximation
  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Skills Training
  • Problem Solving
  • Relaxation Breathing Training

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps Hoarding

CBT methods have been very successful in treating hoarding. CBT therapy works with the person and their desire to not only clean but to hold on or acquire items. It involves assessing the situation and the person’s willingness to change their behavior and then assessing their cause or need to hold on to items. It also involves exercises to avoid bringing in new items or aversion to situations that raise the desire to acquire, motivational training, skills training to sort and organize, repeated exposure to letting go of items, and ensuring the new habits or behaviors are kept up with.  
A guide on the CBT protocol developed by Drs. Randy Frost and Gail Steketee can be found on the iocbf.org website. 

Find a Therapist

Please visit these resources to find a therapist:
ABCT – Associaition for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
ADAA – Anxiety and Depression Association of America 
IOCDF – International OCD Foundation

Coping With a Sudden, Traumatic Death

traumatic deathDeath is a difficult yet inevitable part of life, but a sudden death is an unforeseeable and, at times horrendous, incident that is even more difficult to cope with. A traumatic death can be sudden, violent, destructive, and preventable. When a death is a result of suicide or homicide, the situation is even more distressing and challenging to respond to.

The loss of a loved one is a terrible experience to undergo but to lose someone on such shocking terms is unimaginable. An unanticipated tragic event shatters the world we know and leaves mourners in emotional turmoil. Each individual responds differently to the situation: some grieve with tears, others scream and curse at the world, many remain in a state of denial, and others feel a great numbness overcome them. There is no time to absorb this sudden death and really process what happened; you are just thrown into the midst of chaos, unwillingly and unprepared.

One reason a sudden, traumatic death can be so difficult to cope with is because there may be a sense of regret added to the fusion of emotions. Many may feel cheated of their opportunity to spend time with the loved one or the opportunity to say a final goodbye, along with any additional thoughts. Instead all that is left is a sense of emptiness. Grief of any form is difficult to manage, whether unforeseen or predicted, but each has their own set of struggles to overcome.

Many professionals agree that people undergo five stages of grief after a loss (note that each person may experience the stages differently and/or many not make it to the point of acceptance):

  1. Shock – the initial astonishment of the events that occurred
  2. Disbelief/Denial– the refusal to believe/accept this has actually happened
  3. Anger/Guilt – searching for someone/something to blame; possibly blaming self for not being able to prevent the loss or for not spending as much time with the deceased
  4. Depression – inability to function due to the extreme feelings of misery
  5. Acceptance – acknowledgement that what happened, happened and there is nothing that can be done to change the past

The length of time for each stage will vary with each individual and may not go exactly as described, but this is a general emotional response of a mourner. Nothing can change the events that have occurred, nor can anything magically make the situation better, but there are some points to keep in mind that can help alleviate the process and hardship:

  • Utilize a support system. There is no reason to cope with a loss alone, and you are not the only one coping either.
  • Don’t suppress your emotions. Use your support system as an outlet to express how you feel and what you’re going through. Chances are your friends and family may be feeling the same way, so you will be able to cope and even share memories together. It’s ok not to be the “strong one,” so be honest with yourself and others about how you feel.
  • Begin the notification process. If this is too difficult to do alone, ask someone to help you. Remember, it may be best to notify some people person to person.
  • Consider your health. You need to keep in mind that your health is important too, so don’t try to do it all alone. Take off of work if possible, try to eat, rest, and contact a family doctor, grief counselor, support group, your religious affiliation, or whatever contact you feel comfortable and confident with.
  • Be aware that the grieving process varies from person to person. Some may experience emotional symptoms, and others may even experience physical symptoms of grief.

The grieving process is not easy, but it is manageable. If you can, minimize other stresses to make the process a bit easier. Some matters should not be delayed and should be addressed as soon as possible so that the grieving may commence. Funeral arrangements need to be made; keep in mind any requests of the deceased. As a traumatic death, discussion with the police may be a necessary evil, but it can be accomplished with the help of a friend/family member in order to make it easier. Legal matters will also need to be addressed, and if the tragic loss has occurred in the residence, cleanup arrangements will need to be met – professional services can take that heavy burden off your shoulders and complete the cleanup so you don’t have to worry about it. You are not alone, and with the support of friends and family, you will be able to make it through this difficult time.


Connection between Trauma and Hoarding

In recent years, mental health professionals have learned a lot about hoarding. It was previously thought to be the same as OCD, but as more people are treated for the disorder, they’ve learned hoarding doesn’t always respond to OCD treatment methods. Studies have shown that the issue with hoarding usually lies in the decision making part of our brains, but not everyone who struggles with decisions turns to hoarding. One common link that psychologists have started to identify is the connection between traumatic events and hoarding behavior.

A study from the University of South Wales found that there may be a relationship between late-onset hoarding and traumatic events, especially if hoarding symptoms start to manifest directly after the event. If someone experiences something devastating, like losing a child or spouse, it leaves an emotional hole that they fill with material objects. These objects become a distraction from dealing with the pain of loss and they also give hoarders something to care about. In a lot of situations, the stuff they collect begins to take the place of personal relationships and makes it hard for hoarders to form attachments with people.

Both childhood and adult trauma can lead to this kind of loss-hoarding behavior. If you experience a devastating loss as a child, that sense of emptiness can remain throughout adulthood. The need to replace what was lost as a child can cause the same kind of emotional attachment to belongings.

If trauma or loss is the cause of hoarding, it helps explain why letting go of belongings is so hard. Since losing or letting go of a belonging triggers the same fear of losing a person, it’s hard not to hold on to everything. Trying to clean up trauma hoarding can cause extreme anxiety and negative emotions when hoarders are asked to let go of something. If you believe trauma is the root of you or a loved one’s hoarding, it’s especially important to seek psychological help. Not only to help address hoarding behavior, but also to help start healing from whatever traumatic event has affected you.

Address Our Mess has helped compiled a list of recommended hoarding therapists if you’re unsure where to start and our crews are also here to help with the physical cleanup.  We understand that even seeking help can be difficult, so we want to make the process as easy as possible. Our crews do all the heavy lifting, so all you have to do is tell us what you want to keep and we will sort, organize, and remove whatever’s left.

If you’ve noticed hoarding behavior and are ready to make a change, it’s never too late. With a combination of therapy and physical cleanup help, you can get back to living clutter free and feeling safe in your own space.

Hoarding Help Tool Kit: Finding Help for Hoarding

Hoarding Help KitObsessive compulsive hoarding is estimated to affect anywhere from 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the US. It’s a serious concern that many people often don’t know how to deal with. When a hoarder is ready to get help it can be confusing to figure out where to start, but there are a number of resources out there to help hoarders.


Task Forces

Hoarding cleanup often takes a lot of support in order for the home to get and remain clean. Some states have developed task forces that work with numerous agencies to help hoarders in their communities. Task forces are generally open to anyone who is interested and they aim to educate people about the hoarding condition. They also help develop and maximize resources that can help with the treatment and education processes.  States that offer these services will have it listed on the state website.

Mental Health Professionals

If hoarding is going to be stopped long-term, the underlying causes need to be addressed first. Hoarders can seek out trained and licensed professionals that specialize in hoarding to counsel and support them during and after the cleanup process. Therapists can be found through loved one recommendations or through the International OCD Foundation website.

Hoarders can also seek help with support groups. Hoarders Anonymous locations help hoarders express themselves and find solutions in a group setting.

Professional Cleanup Services

Some hoarding situations are more extreme than others, but all of them require detailed cleaning. Hoarded homes often have clutter or trash that make it difficult to navigate the home. Often when the home is in this condition, it’s too large of a project for one person to handle and it can be unsafe due to potential biohazards. If the plumbing is not functional or there are pets in the home, there may be waste that is unsafe to come into contact with.

The best solution for hoarding cleanup is to hire a professional service. It’s important to hire a company that is sensitive to the situation and understands how a hoarder feels while someone is entering their home and going through their belongings.

Address Our Mess employs a case manager with every job to work as a personal support system for the hoarder during cleanup. All trash haul and donation management are handled by the company and at the end of the job the hoarder’s home is guaranteed to be returned to a safe and livable condition.

Hoarding Cleanup in Chicago

hoarding chicagoLooking for help to handle hoarding cleanup in the windy city of Chicago? Address Our Mess is helping resolve the hoarding problems in the United States’ third biggest city. Their top notch case managers can help relieve the clutter and hoarding issues in this great city. What can this clutter be composed of and how might it affect the residents of Chicago?

The people of Chicago tend to love sports, especially baseball and football. Their love of the baseball teams the Cubs and White Sox and football’s Chicago Bears runs deep. This results in many of Chicago citizens collecting sports memorabilia to remind them of the good and bad they have had with each team. These collections of sports memorabilia can turn into a hoarding problem if it starts to clutter up all the rooms of the home and impair room functionality. Many of these items can be attributed to sentimental hoarding.  People find comfort in their memories and sports memories can be appealing for those who are feeling a sense of loss. Hoarding can pose a serious danger in an urban environment.

The urban environment of Chicago lends itself to be problematic for hoarders and the residents of their buildings. Hoarder residences can quickly pile up stuff in their property due to the limited spaces available in an urban environment. In many cases nearby residents of the hoarders can be affected by a hoarder’s lifestyle. The piles of clutter can cause serious health and safety risks. Biodegradable piles can cause a bio-hazardous situation to develop, and vermin or pests can also build nests in the clutter and spread to other people’s homes. Another serious concern in Chicago is animal hoarding.

Animal hoarding in Chicago can be a very dangerous situation. The hoarder may not realize it, but they are harming the animals more so than helping them. In reality the animals are not being fed, cleaned properly, or able to live an active life. The animals are often unable to leave the property, which causes animal waste to build up.  This can result in bio-hazard conditions developing in an urban environment.  What can be done to alleviate all the problems of a hoarding situation in Chicago?

Address Our Mess is here to help Chicago with hoarding and clutter problems. Address Our Mess’s compassionate case managers and technicians can assist in resolving the hoarding problems in their property with our hoarding cleanup service. They will thoroughly organize, remove items from the home, and deep clean the property. Chicago is one of the great cities of our country, and Address Our Mess plans to help clean up and organize the  hoarding problems in Illinois.


Primary Causations of Hoarding

hoarding causesHoarding can result from different factors, which must be resolved before any cleaning takes place. Many of the leading causes of hoarding relate to an individual’s mental state. Causes of hoarding may include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression, or diseases of the elderly.

PTSD is one of the most common causes of hoarding from a mental health perspective. PTSD is the result of a severe traumatic event that has significantly influenced the psychological makeup of an individual. PTSD is commonly found among former military personnel who have suffered battlefield trauma. The individual may begin hoarding because of the traumatic experience in their lives. Many people who suffer from PTSD are afraid to get rid of many items because it gives them a sense of comfort and security from the outside world. This gathering of items can result in a hoarding problem.  In extreme circumstances, the onset of PTSD can lead to depression.

Depression is a serious problem that can develop into a hoarding problem. Depression is the result of different chemicals in an individual’s brain makeup being misconstrued resulting in a feeling of sadness or uselessness. When this occurs an individual’s home cleanliness can deteriorate due to lack of motivation or energy. Piles of garbage or other old products may begin to accrue. These items can create a hoarding scenario if the depression is not treated.

Another condition that can result in unhealthy hoarding if left untreated is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is an obsessive complex that can take over the brain and result in an unhealthy fixation on certain items. These items vary from person to person, it can range from paper to large pieces of junk. The individual has an unnatural attachment to them. In many cases, they place the items well-being above their loved ones and their health.

In some cases, hoarding obsession can begin to affect people who suffer from diseases of the aging. Diseases of the aging include dementia and Alzheimer’s. Both of these diseases affect the elderly decision making and motor abilities. With the deterioration of their mental capacity, these individuals are no longer able to make decisions that are rational. A result is that they begin to purchase unnecessary or duplicate items, and in other cases they gather things that are in the trash or have been discarded. This unhealthy habit can affect those in their twilight years.  What can one do to resolve the issues of hoarding?

One of the first parts in solving a hoarding problem is to get the individual the help and service they may need to clarify their situation; this can range from seeking family, therapeutic, psychological, or medical help. If the cause of the situation is not addressed, then the hoarding condition will reoccur. It is important to understand, even if the clutter is gone it can still return if the psychological issues are left unaddressed. Once the root of the hoarding problem has been treated then the home mess can be resolved by a specialty cleaning service. One such hoarding cleanup service company that does this type of specialty cleaning is Address Our Mess.

Address Our Mess operates with discretion and compassion with individuals who want to better their lives. The crews are aware of the potential mental health status of the clients and take the utmost care to help them solve their clutter and organization problems.  Address Our Mess prides itself on their workers and case managers being some of the best in the industry of helping former hoarders return to a safe and livable environment.



Trash or Treasure?

trash treasure clean upThey say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” but how can you tell the difference between this “trash” and “treasure?” Each item is not going to have a label on it, identifying it as junk or something of value, so for some items it can be a little more difficult to distinguish whether it should stay or go.

When going through belongings in an attempt to purge yourself of junk, make the process more effective by asking these questions:

  • When was the last time I used this item? Is this an item I use regularly?
    Has it been a week, a month, or a few years? Is it a seasonal item or one for regular use? If the item has been sitting collecting dust for a period of time, you most likely will not need it. If you have forgotten about the item for a while until you miraculously stumbled across it again, it may be time to part with it. Generally, it is a good time to part with belongings if it has been over a year since you’ve last used them (or even remembered their existence).
  • Do I have this item due to obligation or expectation?
    Was the belonging a gift from someone or a trend you felt obligated to follow? If you do not truly enjoy the item or have use for it, it is okay to trash or donate it (depending on its condition). Do not try to hold onto something you do not want just because it was a gift. It is your home and space, so keep what you want and need, not what others expect for you.
  • Am I saving this item “just in case?”
    Holding onto a metal detector in case you ever feel the desire to start treasure hunting? Have a zombie fighting kit in case the zombie apocalypse is unleashed? Sit down and think for a minute: Is this really necessary? Living life constantly thinking “if” and “just in case” will only limit you, and in the case of physical belongings, limit household space.
  • Are there duplicates?
    There is no need to keep multiples of the same items. If you have one blender do not keep the second because the chances of making two smoothies at the same time is pretty slim. Re-gift, donate, trash – it’s time to part with that duplicate item.
  • Is there another item with a similar function?
    Though not a duplicate of the same item, having an item with the same function is also unnecessary.
  • Am I keeping a broken item with the intention of someday fixing it?
    “Eventually,” “someday,” and “one of these days” sound very familiar? If the excuses keep piling up and that broken item still remains broken, it may be time to part with the item. Consider if it is worth fixing, if someone else can easily fix it, or if it is cheaper and easier to just buy a replacement.
  • Is this item worth the storage space?
    Each item takes up space within a property. No matter how small, materials will add up, decreasing available storage space. Consider if the item is worth taking up space within the home, and if the space could be used for something better.

Going through items can be a long, tedious process, especially if the residence contains a large collection of belongings. If time is not available or the project is too overwhelming to work on alone, professional help is available to make the process easier. Junk haulers will merely take the trash out instead of sorting and separating belongings. Address Our Mess is a specialty cleaning company that is able to help sort and organize the items with you, separating the trash from the treasure.


Signs of a Hoarder

Hoarding Signs To Watch Out For

Hoarding SignsHoarding is not just an occurrence on a television show, but rather a more common condition than many people realize. A hoarding condition is not solely a disorder that leaves a home in disarray. Health hazards, social tension, and physical limitations can accompany the clutter of hoarding, among other issues. Some people who are hoarding may be unaware of what they are doing, or even in denial. Family members and friends may suspect a hoarding condition is the cause. There are signs to be on the lookout to determine if a hoarding condition is prevalent so the issue can be immediately addressed in order to minimize potential damages:

  • It is normal for homes to have a bit of clutter, but when clutter is making parts of the home unusable, there is a bigger issue at hand. Clutter should not impede upon home functionality.
  • De-cluttering is a terrifying thought because it would be classified as a sizable job that would take more than just a couple hours to complete.
  • Parting with possessions is difficult. If an attempt is made to physically remove items from the home, strong resistance and combative behavior may be encountered. An attachment to these items, no matter how valueless they seem, has developed, so the individual will not easily concede to giving up the items.
  • Items lack value. Someone who is hoarding may have accumulated items that lack value to the average person. Some of these items may include old newspapers, expired food items, duplicate items, various broken items, and any other item that is perceived to possibly be of some use for a hypothetical situation or of no use at all.
  • Possessions keep accumulating. There may be an issue of compulsive shopping or just the refusal to throw items away that results in the increase of item. This may also result in financial problems due to the excess spending.
  • There is nowhere to store belongings out of sight. The belongings have reached massive proportions that make it impossible to keep everything in closets, cabinets, and organizers. As a result, items are scattered across various surfaces.
  • The individual may be undergoing a medley of emotions. Anger may accompany their defensive behavior if someone attempts to touch items or suggests throwing things out. Aside from combative behavior, a hoarding individual may also experience anxiety or other mental illnesses, such as depression.
  • Social isolation may result due to embarrassment. Family tension may have increased or there may be embarrassment of other people viewing and judging the living conditions, so in order to eliminate the additional stress, the person who is hoarding may not permit others in his/her home. Additionally, relationships may deteriorate because people may refuse to visit as well.
  • Unsanitary living conditions are prevalent. Perishable food items, waste (i.e. feces, urine, etc.), and other biohazards can produce unsanitary living spaces. Bacteria, illnesses, insects and vermin, and other health risks often accompany these conditions.

There are various levels of hoarding. The living conditions can vary from minor disruptive clutter to extreme clutter that puts health and safety at risk. There are dangers that can accompany hoarding clutter, which is why it is important to seek help for a hoarding condition. The physical cleanup process can be accomplished by professional specialty cleanup services if the situation is too difficult to handle without assistance. Hoarding is a mental condition so it is imperative to seek help from a mental health professional in order to confront the main problem and minimize the chance of the situation reverting back to unlivable hoarding conditions. Knowing what signs to be on the lookout for will make it possible to properly help hoarding individuals in their time of need.


Helping Hoarders Recover

Recovery Of Hoarders Depends On The Help From Around

When a hoarder begins seeking help to solve their affliction, then they are ready for the road to recovery. It is important that these individuals seek professional help on the way to recovery in order stabilize their psychological disorder. Once the hoarder has sought to control their addiction of collecting and cluttering, a professional cleaning of the property can be done. Why is it advisable to seek professional psychological help first and foremost?

Seeking psychological help is important for the hoarder. Hoarders tend to have a higher tendency to hoard particular items. A way of stopping this is to find the cause behind hoarding. Often hoarders have a tendency to gather a particular type of item, which may hold personal significance to them. The hoarder will want to protect these meaningful objects. When trying to remove these trigger items from the home, it is important to note that the hoarder might lash out to protect those objects. What might cause the hoarder to act this way?

The items that the hoarder collects or gathers could have personal significance. A traumatic event in their life may have led to their hoarding behavior. An example of such trauma could be the unexpected death of a loved one or a severe injury that makes the hoarder feel helpless and cause them no longer do certain tasks. Another possible causation of hoarding is a financial collapse.

Hoarding behavior can occur in a person who had a significant financial catastrophe that affected their life. Survival instinct may have developed due to the hoarder’s concern that he/she might return to poverty or become bankrupt later on. The hoarder may try to hold onto everything in their property due to this fear. Once a hoarder has begun to seek professional help, the mess caused by their hoarding habits and life catastrophes can be cleaned up.

The hoarder will view the removal of the items in the same sense of a child’s favorite toy being taken away; therefore, it is important to approach the situation cautiously. Helping the hoarder remove the items from the home is an important part of the therapeutic process. Without the removal of the items there still might be a small chance the person may return to hoarding tendencies and make the home unlivable again.

A professional clutter cleanup company can come to help. With expert case managers and experienced crews, Address Our Mess can help with the hoarders’ healing process. Expert staff can help remove the clutter from the property and deep clean it in its entirety to give a fresh start to the former hoarder.



Are Cleanouts Alone Effective? Utilizing Psychological Treatment for Hoarding

There may be clutter throughout the residence, blocking entrances and maybe even pathways, posing as threatening tripping hazards, and quite simply just causing chaos. The simple solution seems to be just get rid of everything, right? Unfortunately, it is not always that simple. Sometimes clutter situations may actually be much more involved. In the case of many hoarding situations, a clean out may not be as effective as perceived, so seeking psychological treatment can help provide a more effective clean out.

psychological helpA hoarding clean out will be able to restore property conditions. It will eliminate excess clutter and provide a safe, sanitary environment. The hoarding behavior, however, may not be directly addressed. Though the home may be clean, the question may become: how long will it last? Hoarding behavior involves not only struggling to identify valuable items from invaluable items, but it also leads to collecting behavior resulting in an over-accumulation of possessions.

The behavior can be triggered by a mental condition, such as depression, OCD, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, etc. Sometimes a traumatic experience such as a death in the family can trigger or intensify hoarding habits. In addition to addressing the physical clutter involved in hoarding, it is important to seek help for the psychological aspects as well. Mental health professionals can help.

Therapists who specialize in hoarding behavior can help make it easier to overcome hoarding. Psychotherapy is an effective form of treatment. Otherwise known as “talk therapy,” psychotherapy is a principal form of treatment, especially cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). The licensed therapist will be able to work with the hoarder to explore why they feel compelled to hoard and help the individual to improve decision-making and organizing skills.
Each therapist has their own method and approach to clients and hoarding behavior. Psychological treatment combined with clutter cleanup efforts can make it possible to overcome hoarding. A qualified therapist can not only help the hoarder but he/she can also help family and friends impacted by the hoarding situation. Find a local hoarding therapist to help overcome hoarding tendencies, and contact Address Our Mess to assist with the hoarding cleanup.