I have been working with a client with hoarding disorder (please don't call people "hoarders" it doesn't define who they are, it's a complex mental health issue) for about eight months. As with many I have worked with who have this disorder, she is kind, highly intelligent, and creative.
I’m always curious to know what the “hoard” means to my clients. Sometimes the items represent protection, other times the extreme clutter contains memories of happier times. It’s always different. But it’s always “something”.
I tread lightly and wait until I have built trust with a client before I ask about it. This client recently told me it represents failure. And it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more she brings in, the more of a failure she feels and it is all there to remind her.
This may not seem like progress, but it is.