Approaching a loved one about their hoarding behaviour can be sensitive and challenging. Hoarding disorder is a complex issue that often requires professional intervention. However, discussing the issue with empathy and understanding can encourage your loved one to seek help. Here are some helpful tips on how to approach this delicate conversation.

approach hoarding

Educate Yourself About Hoarding Disorder Before You Approach

Before talking to your loved one, could you take the time to learn about hoarding disorder? Understanding the disorder and its symptoms can help you approach the conversation with empathy and compassion.

Symptoms: Learn about the common symptoms of hoarding disorder, such as difficulty discarding items, excessive clutter, and emotional attachment to possessions. Understanding these symptoms can help you recognize them in your loved one.

Causes: Educate yourself about the possible causes of hoarding disorder, such as genetics, past trauma, or underlying mental health issues. This can help you understand that hoarding is not simply a matter of being messy or disorganized.

Choose the Right Time and Place

Pick a time and place where you and your loved one can talk privately and without distractions. Choose a moment when your loved one is calm and receptive to discussion.

Avoid Confrontation: Avoid bringing up the topic during a heated argument or when your loved one is feeling overwhelmed. Instead, choose a time when you can have a calm and compassionate conversation.

Create a Safe Space: Ensure that the environment is safe and comfortable for both of you. This can help your loved one feel more at ease and open to discussing their hoarding behaviour.

Express Your Concerns with Compassion

Start the conversation by expressing your concerns in a non-confrontational and compassionate manner. Use “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory.

Approach with Empathy: Try to put yourself in your loved one’s shoes and understand their perspective. Express empathy for their struggles and acknowledge that hoarding disorder is a real and challenging issue.

Focus on Safety: Emphasize that your concern is for their safety and well-being. For example, you can say, “I’m worried that the clutter in your home could be a fire hazard or pose a risk to your health.”

Listen and Validate Their Feelings

Listen actively to your loved one’s perspective and validate their feelings. Hoarding can be a coping mechanism for underlying issues such as anxiety or trauma.

Practice Active Listening: Listen without judgment and try to understand the emotions behind their hoarding behaviour. Reflect back what they’re saying to show that you’re listening and understanding.

Validate Their Feelings: Acknowledge their feelings and let them know that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed or anxious. Avoid minimizing their emotions or trying to “fix” their feelings.

Offer Support and Encourage Professional Help

Let your loved one know that you are there to support them and that hoarding disorder is treatable. Encourage them to seek professional help from therapists or hoarding cleanup services.

Offer Practical Support: Offer to help them find a therapist or hoarding cleanup service. You can also offer to assist them in decluttering their home in a respectful and non-judgmental way.

Encourage Small Steps: Hoarding recovery is a gradual process. Encourage your loved one to take small steps towards decluttering and managing their hoarding behavior. Celebrate their progress, no matter how small.


Approaching a loved one about their hoarding behaviour requires empathy, understanding, and patience. By educating yourself, choosing the right time and place, expressing your concerns compassionately, listening actively, and offering support, you can help your loved one take the first step toward recovery. If you or your loved one need professional hoarding cleanup services, contact us today. Our compassionate team is here to help you through this challenging time.

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