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Understanding and Working with Hoarding Disorder: Helping the Person Behind the Diagnosis

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Understanding and Working with Hoarding Disorder: Helping the Person Behind the Diagnosis by Eileen Dacy

Eileen Dacey is our new Clinical Hoarding Specialist. Although new to this role, Eileen had previously been involved as a graduate level intern for ten months in the Hoarding & Cluttering program at North Shore Elder Services (NSES).  She also volunteered for the program during the summer of 2016.  This past May, Eileen graduated from Simmons College with her Masters of Social Work.

After completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at the University of North Florida, Eileen moved to Massachusetts where she worked as a case manager for another Aging Services Access Point (ASAP) agency. Eileen encountered many situations that involved cluttering.  She felt overwhelmed with not knowing how to address the issue with clients.

Wanting to understand more about hoarding, Eileen attended the first Hoarding Conference run by NSCHC. There she met Marnie Matthews, NSES’ Clinical Hoarding Specialist and engaged in conversation with Marnie.  That meeting struck a chord with Eileen.  Once accepted into the Master’s program at Simmons, it was the motivation behind Eileen wanting to do an internship at NSES.  At the time, NSES was not affiliated with the social work program at Simmons.  Eileen successfully worked out the details and an internship was born.

That internship solidified Eileen’s interest in the field. She had found her calling.  Specializing in mental health and addiction was a good match for the hoarding program.

Eileen shared some exciting news recently. The Hoarding program will be billing Medicare for those eligible to participate in group sessions and individual counseling services offered through the program.  This will allow the program to be more accessible.  Eileen’s long-range goal is to expand the program and down the road be able to bill other secondary insurances.

We interviewed Eileen to find out more about the Hoarding & Cluttering program at NSES.

  • Can you explain what hoarding is?

“It is important to understand that hoarding is NOT about the stuff. It is a progressive and chronic condition. We do not know what causes hoarding disorder.  As of 2014, hoarding disorder is categorized as its own distinct mental health disorder. Those with the disorder commonly have one or more co-occurring psychiatric conditions, like depression, ADHD, Anxiety, and OCD.”