2013 International OCD Foundation Conference in Atlanta
International OCD Foundation Conference
Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton and I spent the better portion of last week attending the International OCD Foundation’s conference in beautiful Atlanta, Georgia. We joined over a thousand researchers, health care professionals, therapists, and families living with OCD for a whirlwind of presentations, data, and the latest research in OCD-related conditions.
This year there were some exciting changes for us professional organizers, as the conference added an entire track dedicated to hoarding. Hoarding received its own diagnosis in the DSM-V this year which means there will be a lot more to learn about why 2-5% percent of the population hoards and what we can do to help and support them.
We attended a panel of leading researchers and other specialists working with clients who hoard, learned what the latest research says about the risk factors and treatment options for those that hoard, and learned how effective hoarding task forces can be in communities. While I could write pages and pages of what we learned and things we found interesting, I’ll narrow it down to two: the focus on group healing for those with hoarding behavior, and the importance of a strong support system.
New research seems to indicate that group therapy for those suffering from hoarding is just as effective as the latest individual therapy being used – cognitive behavioral therapy. This is exciting news because it means that there is another, lower cost option for those seeking help. Lee Shuer did a marvelous presentation on Buried in Treasures, his successful workshop for helping people who hoard in a supportive group setting. It brings people living with the same condition together so that they can work towards a common goal and support each other along the way. Mr. Shuer reports that participants felt safe and comfortable being around others who understood what they were going through. And although being a part of a group is but the first step down a very long and often windy road for these people, it was nice to see a room filled with hope for what may be waiting at the end of it.
Cris and I also attended a session designed for those living with or otherwise supporting a friend or family member who hoards. And while we already knew that nothing helps someone achieve their goals like a strong support system, it was rewarding to see a room full of people there to support those they care about. Dr. Tompkins, author of Digging Out, from the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy gave a wonderful presentation on the power of effective communication with specific strategies for avoiding conflict while working together towards a common goal. I encourage anyone struggling with disorganization to reach out for support wherever they see fit. This could come in the form of a family member or a friend. And if you would rather reach out to an impartial, caring, confidential, and compassionate third party, remember there is an entire industry of professional organizers who would love to help you achieve all that you deserve.