Older adult hoarders’ experiences of being helped by volunteers and volunteers' experiences of helping

Kirsty Ryninks, Vuokko Wallace, James Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (SciVal)
114 Downloads (Pure)


There is limited research into the experiences of receiving and providing help in the context of hoarding disorder.

The present study aimed to explore the experiences of older people with hoarding difficulties receiving help and volunteers providing support to people with hoarding problems.

Qualitative methods were adopted to investigate the lived experience of participants. A total of seven volunteer helpers and four people with hoarding disorder were recruited and interviewed using a semi-structured interview, designed to explore experiences of providing and receiving help. Qualitative analysis of the interview data was performed using interpretive phenomenological analysis.

Four superordinate themes were identified: relationship between client and volunteer; ‘live life again’; challenges; and supporting volunteers. The relationship was crucial in providing a trusting foundation from which clients felt able to move forward. Volunteers provided a space for clients to talk and appropriate self-disclosure helped to build a relationship. The informal and ‘non-professional’ status of volunteers enabled clients to take the lead and feel more in control of the therapeutic process. Volunteer flexibility and lack of time constraints contributed to clients ‘making space’ for themselves, both in their home and their lives. The support from volunteers enabled clients to ‘live life again’ and created a domino effect, bringing about improvements in other areas of their lives.

The findings are discussed in relation to the training of health professionals to work with people with hoarding difficulties and the implications of the findings for treatment approaches and service provision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-708
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number6
Early online date14 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • hoarding
  • older adults
  • qualitative methods
  • volunteers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Older adult hoarders’ experiences of being helped by volunteers and volunteers' experiences of helping'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this