Question: My mom saves everything, and has filled my parents’ large house from top to bottom. She wants very much to change, but knows she can’t do it alone. She’s asked me to find help because she hasn’t been able to seek it herself – she’s afraid. She’s willing to go to “OCD camp’ (if there is such a thing) for intensive therapy.
Answer 1: I’m not sure if a “OCD Camp” is really the solution. Compulsive hoarders such as your mother are best treated with some type of home based treatment. If she were to go away from home to a hospital based program, she would not be able to work on throwing away her clutter, since it would not be accessible to her or her behavioral therapist. Home is where the real work must take place. Her best bet is to find a behavioral therapist and a good psychiatrist who are experienced in treating OCD in her area, and work with them. Medications can lower her anxiety and her symptoms, and raise her mood enough for her to then make a successful start in behavioral therapy. Facing a house full of junk can be pretty overwhelming to a sufferer, and they keep procrastinating because they just don’t know where to start. Other types of OCD can be treated away from home, but this is just not one of them. Check the internet for any local support groups in your area to get the names of competent practitioners. Be a smart consumer! Ask lots of questions, and look for doctors who are experienced. This type of OCD is quite treatable with the right help, so tell her to not give up hope. Hope she makes a speedy recovery. Continued near the bottom of this page.
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Answer 2: OCD camp would not be the best choice since people with the hoarding form of OCD need to work on the stuff they have at home and learn how to stop hoarding. This is very hard work but the good news is she is willing to try. Although medication may help reduce her anxiety the most effective thing will be to find a cognitive behavioral therapist who knows about treating hoarding and OCD. They will need to do things that are unusual in this business like make house calls.
Answer 3: There are several centers across the country that offer intensive therapy for OCD, either on an outpatient, residential, or inpatient basis. Check help for hoarders website for a list of treatment centers. However, wherever she goes, she will probably need follow-up therapy, so it will be helpful to find a therapist close to home who can see her after she returns. Sometimes home visits are useful for the type of problem your mother has. Good luck!