Research Collaborations

Current Research Projects

"I Think I have a problem with Clutter"  Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF)  are conducting a study to learn more about different treatments for people with difficulties discarding.

To learn more about this study, go to the website or contact Gillian Howell at MHASF: or (415)763-7489. Groups are in San Mateo, Berkeley, and San Francisco.

Download the flyer

“The Impact of Hoarding Cleanouts”  Primary Investigator: Jennifer Sampson, PhD., LMFT is President and Research Director of The Hoarding Project (THP), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization aimed at providing education, research, and treatment for people who hoard, their families, and communities.


Dr. Sampson is currently conducting a research study titled, “The Lived Experience of People who Hoard who have Undergone a Forced Cleanout of their Home.”

Hoarding has long been identified as a community health problem and has been found to have a significant economic and social burden on communities at large. It is clear to experts that forced full- and partial- cleanouts- or abatements- are not helpful without mental health assistance. In fact, these cleanouts may even be harmful to the homeowners who are forced to clear out their homes to avoid serious consequences, like eviction or loss of child custody. To date, there have been no academic studies on the long-term effects of abatements, and we know almost nothing about the financial and emotional costs of these approaches, both to the community and the individuals who hoard and their families. This significantly limits professional and government agencies in their ability to intervene and respond in appropriate, effective, and ethical ways.
THP appreciates your voluntary participation in this study designed to explore the impact of forced cleanouts on a person who hoards.

To be eligible for this confidential phone interview study, you must reside in the United States or Canada and be of age 18 or older and have undergone a forced cleanout by some authority (e.g. court-ordered, code enforcement, housing authority/property manager, protective services, etc.) at least 6 months ago. The survey is open to anyone that meets these requirements. If you are interested in participating this study or getting more information, please contact


“Hoarding and the Family” In collaboration with Jennifer Sampson, M.S., LMFT
Jennifer Sampson, M.S., LMFT, is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Ms. Sampson is currently conducting a research study titled, "The Influences of Unresolved Trauma and Family Experiences on Compulsive Hoarding Behavior: An Internet Survey." To date, there are no large-scale studies that examine the joint influence that family experiences and unresolved trauma have on the severity of hoarding behavior. The results of this study will be available in the near future.


Psychological Perception of Home:

*This is one of the two studies which includes the Clutter Quality of Life (CQLS) scale, developed by Dr. Roster, in collaboration with ICD.*

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD), in partnership with Catherine Roster, Ph.D., Associate Professor at University of New Mexico and Dr. Joseph Ferrari, Distinguished Professor at DePaul University, is conducting a study to learn how clutter impacts a person’s psychological sense of “home.”  Psychological home refers to self-identity as it is aided through a person’s use of personal dwelling spaces in the place one calls “home,” as well as public use and association with nearby spaces that aid one’s self-identity through access to culture, people, or things that connect a person with their surroundings.

ICD appreciates your voluntary participation in a study designed to explore factors that affect a person’s psychological sense of home.  To be eligible for this study, you must reside in the United States or Canada and be of age 18 or older.  The survey is open to anyone that meets these requirements, especially people who have problems with clutter in their home.  The survey will take approximately 20 minutes or less to complete.  You do not have to answer all questions in one session.  If you choose to complete the survey in multiple sessions, you can resume answering questions at the point you left off and all of your previous answers will be saved.  Your responses are completely anonymous.  All responses will be analyzed in summary format only.  Additional details about your participation are described in a consent form that prefaces the survey.  After reading this material, you may choose to decline this invitation to participate.  You may withdraw from the study and discontinue answering questions at any point, or choose not to answer any questions that make you uncomfortable. 

If you have any questions or concerns about this study, please contact ICD's Research Director at

Survey is now closed. Thank you for your participation in this important study! Results from this study will be published on ICD's website.


“The Secret Lives of Objects” In collaboration with Corinne Botz

Corinne Botz is a Brooklyn-based artist, professional photographer, and author of the book The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death (Monacelli Press, 2004). Her work has been featured in numerous art exhibitions, including solo exhibitions at Bellwether Gallery, New York, and Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington, D.C and group exhibitions at Jackson Fine Arts, Lombard Fried Gallery, New York, NY, and Wurttembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany. Corinne's work has been reviewed by The New York Times, Village Voice, BookForum and New York Magazine. Her work has been published by New York Magazine, Metropolis, 2wice, Blackbook, and Popular Science. She has taught photography at the International Center of Photography, Johns Hopkins University and Maryland Institute, College of Art. B.F.A., Maryland Institute, College of Art; and M.F.A. Bard College.


Corinne is currently working on an art project called “The Secret Life of Objects.” This project considers how objects are connected with our memories, our sense of self, and the process of letting go of possessions. The ultimate goal of this project is to shed light on the relationship people have with objects, as well as the act of anonymously gifting sentimental objects to strangers.

Corinne is asking individuals to gift objects for use in this project, along with a personal story from participants that describes the significance of donated objects in their lives and how they felt about parting with these objects. She plans on combining the objects she receives to create shrine-like sculptures. Later, she will exhibit the sculpture, or photograph the sculpture and exhibit the photographs. ICD professional organizers submitted objects and stories donated from their clients who volunteered to assist with this project. To learn more about the Secret Lives of Objects art project, please visit Corinne's blog at


ICD Research - Past Projects

“ Capella University is recruiting participants for a clinical research study about compulsive hoarding” 

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) is collaborating with Capella University to recruit participants for a clinical research study about compulsive hoarding. It is the purpose of this study to understand the factors which may lead to compulsive hoarding in adulthood; and how such factors influence the progression of compulsive hoarding across the life span. Stressful life events and attachment styles are considered as the possible factors in this study.

To learn more about this study, please contact:   Tracey M. Biagas, researcher – Email: Phone: 301-221-0858.

This study is now closed.

Fathers of Children with ADHD [2011-2012]
ICD collaborated with Abigail Mintz, MS, who at the time was a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College Park, to recruit participants for her dissertation research involving fathers of children with ADHD. This study was designed to learn more about the experiences of fathers of children (age 5-12) who have ADHD or undiagnosed significant attention/disruptive behavior problems. As little is known about parenting behaviors, especially those of fathers, this study provides knowledge that can improve treatment for families of children with ADHD. ICD widely disseminated a link to a web survey to subscribers that encouraged qualified participants to take the survey. Results indicated that paternal antisocial personality disorder symptoms, rather than ADHD symptoms, were robustly associated with child conduct problems and that paternal negative parenting mediated this relationship.

Click here to view a summary of findings from this study.

Safe Passage Strategies Used by Professional Organizers [2008-2009]
This ICD study, led by Catherine A. Roster, Ph.D., examined factors and strategies used by professional organizers to help clients let go of possessions. Ninety-four ICD subscribers provided case descriptions of clients who found it extremely difficult to let go of their possessions. Findings revealed a paradigm based on context, conditions, strategies, and consequences revolving around a central theme best described as achieving “Safe Passage.” Safe Passage appeared to represent a peaceful state of mind clients realized from successfully navigating the emotional, cognitive, and decision-making challenges associated with letting go of meaningful goods. Safe Passage was aided by the organizer's experience, emotional intelligence skills, and personal relationship with the client, but hampered by numerous extraneous factors related to the client's physical, cognitive, or emotional state and his or her external environment.

Click here to view a summary of findings from this study.

Survey of Organizing Techniques Used by Professional Organizers with Chronically Disorganized Clients [2007]
This ICD study, led by Kit Anderson, former ICD Research Director, examined the frequency of use of the organizing techniques originally proposed for CD clients by Judith Kolberg in What Every Organizer Should Know About Chronic Disorganization. The study sought to determine which of these techniques were most often used by ICD subscribers and other professional organizers. Findings were that “body doubling” was by far the most used technique, followed by avoiding “tactile sympathy.” About half used “maintenance sessions,” “recommending support services,” “treasure hunting,” “sampling/playing favorites,” and “shrines.” Just under half regularly used the “muttering game” and usage of other techniques was much lower.

Click here to view a summary of findings from this study.

Development of a Chronic Disorganization Inventory [2006-2007]
ICD collaborated with Sharon Mintz, MS, who at the time was a doctoral student at Fordham University, in a project to develop a Chronic Disorganization Inventory. ICD placed a link on our web site to a survey measuring the extent and type of chronic disorganization, and sent an email to all subscribers asking them to encourage their CD clients to take the on-line survey. Results indicated that the 60-item Chronic Disorganization Inventory is a psychometrically sound instrument that can be used to assess the level and subtypes of chronic disorganization. After further analysis the tool will be made available to professional organizers.

Click here to view a summary of findings from this study.

Decision Making Among Elderly Clients with Hoarding and Clutter-related Issues [2005-2006]
ICD collaborated with Monika Eckfield Petross, RN, MSN, who at the time was a doctoral student at the University of California at San Francisco School of Nursing, to conduct a pilot study designed to explore the experience of elderly individuals with hoarding and cluttering behaviors. ICD professional organizers distributed a brochure to their CD clients and encouraged them to participate in the pilot study. Findings were that all participants in the study struggled with decision making. A variety of reasons for decision-making difficulties were given by participants, including a fear of making mistakes, inability to prioritize, the struggle between emotional attachment and logical decisions, and others.

Click here to view a summary of findings from this study.