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Question: Hi Anne-
I just picked up a new customer-someone in my networking group. She has already told me that her house is very bad. And others in the group, when they found out she hired me, rolled their eyes and said, "Good luck!". I'm afraid she is most likely a chronically disorganized and maybe a hoarder. Her plan is to sell her house, but right now she's looking to rent somewhere and weed through the stuff in the empty house. She'll probably make a mess in the new place too.

I'm a little nervous about this; I have an appointment on Monday. She seems willing to purge and wants to change and get rid of stuff; I guess I'm a little anxious that if she DOES have a problem, it may be more than I can handle. I've already told myself not to feel bad if we only get so far; it won't be my fault if we take a step forward and 2 back, right? Any wise advice from a seasoned pro?

Answer: My initial reaction is to say, “no” because you don’t have the training to work with a hoarder or even possibly someone who is chronically disorganized. If you feel you want the experience of seeing this type of environment, then I suggest you use the Hoarding Scale from the NSGCD located in the materials I provided you to help you determine what level the environment is. If it is above a level I on the Hoarding Scale, then I advise you not to take the job unless you work with someone who has the training for the level of environment it is. I suggest you ask her to send you some digital pictures and then you can follow-up with a phone needs assessment asking questions based on the Hoarding Scale. This will prevent you from wasting your time and hers if it is an environment that is not suitable to your skill level or is not your ideal client. Find out who are other profesional organizers in your area that are skilled to work with the chronically disorganized or people who hoard so you can refer to them.

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