By David Bain
Dictionary.com, defines innovation as “something new or different introduced”. Their definition of the act of innovating is “the introduction of new things or methods”.
Thinking Outside the Boxes: Innovation in Action is the theme of MHA’s 18th Conference on Hoarding and Clutter. So, what is new or different about our conference this year? First, the focus of the conference this year is less on the why and more on the what.? What can we do to increase our effectiveness in our efforts to de-clutter our lives? What is new and innovative in the treatment of hoarding
disorder? What can we do to expand our understanding of hoarding behaviors and what does an individual dealing with the challenge face in their day-to-day life? What can we do to impact the future?
The format of the conference is new. Our program includes more interactive breakout sessions and more involvement on the part of you, the participants. The goal of work sessions on Thursday and Friday is to draw from your expertise and knowledge and to combine all our efforts to address the challenges posed by hoarding and cluttering behaviors. We are also thrilled to be holding the conference in a new and exciting location: the campus of the University of California at Berkeley.
In our goal to increase an individual’s effectiveness in their de-cluttering work, we are putting focus on self-care. The sessions on journal writing and mindfulness are fully interactive; participants will learn and practice specific skills that will help them deal with the stress and anxieties associated with de-cluttering work whether they are a peer, a service provider, a therapist or just part of an individual’s support system.
Multiple sessions will focus on techniques designed to expand and supplement the gold standard of cognitive behavioral therapy. These include presentations on compassion-focused therapy, resilience training, support for friends and family members and new work being done by Adult Protective Services in San Francisco.
Hannah McCabe-Bennett at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario takes research on hoarding in a totally new direction. Using virtual reality (VR) technology, Hannah is looking at actual information processing deficits, the role of emotions in hoarding symptoms, and whether there are differences in preferences and stress reactivity to increasing levels of clutter. Her presentation concludes with clinical implications and possible applications of VR in the treatment of hoarding disorder as well as possible future directions for this line of research.
Why be an innovator? Innovators create change and through positive change we improve the quality of our lives. Much of the work done in this field is innovative. We are still learning new things and fine tuning our knowledge and understanding of hoarding disorder. Any contribution to this body of knowledge moves us forward even when what we have learned is what not to do. Our understanding of the ineffectiveness of clean outs is just one such example.
Therefore, let me challenge you to be an innovator. Introduce yourself to new approaches to treating hoarding disorder, new techniques to add to your skill base and possibly, new directions in your work in this most challenging field.