The Falmouth Hoarding Task Force is holding an introductory forum for people interested in the Buried in Treasures Workshop, a support program for people with hoarding disorder on Thursday, February 26, at 2 PM in the Hermann Foundation Meeting Room at Falmouth Public Library.
“It’s to get the word out there,” said Erika A. Woods, chairman of the Cape Cod Hoarding Task Force, which is co-sponsoring the event. “We are also hoping to get contact information for anyone interested in the workshop.”
The forum is the first step in expanding the Buried in Treasures program to the Upper and Lower Cape areas with funding from the Massachusetts State Hoarding Task Force and MassHousing.
Last year Ms. Woods helped establish a workshop, which addresses hoarding and ways to manage compulsive clutter with a peer group, on the Mid-Cape, now in its third round.
“Peer type support seems to be the most beneficial type of program,” Ms. Woods said.
The 15-session workshop covers why people hoard, strategies to reduce collecting items, and how to sort and discard items.
“We help individuals realize why they are doing it, and what they are doing it for,” Ms. Woods said.
The American Psychiatric Association describes hoarding disorder as a mental illness where people save items regardless of value and are unable to discard this excessive accumulation which then causes disruptive clutter in their lives.
In the past, the condition was linked with obsessive compulsive disorder. But in 2013 the American Psychiatric Association gave hoarding disorder its own label and distinction in its manual.
The guest speakers on Thursday, Lee Shuer and his wife Rebecca Belofsky Shuer, will speak from experience.
Mr. Shuer himself was a compulsive hoarder. His wife at one point gave him an ultimatum that he had to choose between her and his clutter.
Their discussion will include how he learned to manage his hoarding and how it affected their relationship.
Mr. Shuer went on to co-develop the facilitator guide for the Buried in Treasures Workshop with Dr. Randy Frost of Smith College.
“Lee has gone through this,” Ms. Woods said. “He is speaking through his experience, so is his wife, Rebecca.”
The Falmouth group will be led by Karen Cardeira, co-director of the Falmouth Hoarding Task Force and director of Falmouth Human Services, with the support of the Cape Cod Hoarding Task Force.
Ms. Woods said that for this first round in Falmouth there will be no charge for participants. Groups commonly have nine to 13 people.
Call Falmouth Human Services at 508-548-0533.