Hoarding: Treatment

How hoarding is treated depends on the age of the child. For children eight and younger, psychologists often work with parents to set up a behavioral plan, to first stop a child from acquiring new things and then use incentives to work on gradually getting rid of some of her hoarded objects. For older children, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) with a therapist who has experience treating hoarding is helpful. CBT helps children understand why they feel compelled to hoard and teaches them how to decide which possessions are worth keeping and which should be discarded.

Despite what appears on misleading hoarding shows on television, an important aspect of treatment is not to judge the value of what patients collect; they already know that what they believe about their possessions is not what other people believe, and shaming is not going to help.

The medications most often used in a treatment plan for hoarding are a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Not all children respond to medications.