Delivery of Internet Treatment for Compulsive Hoarding (DITCH)

Prior to this project, there were no studies examining Internet-based self-help groups for compulsive hoarding. This research study tested the effectiveness of online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) group interventions by studying a pre-existing Internet group of individuals with compulsive hoarding.  The group intervention was designed to help individuals better manage their hoarding symptoms.

The Internet group participating in the study had well-established procedures, including: an application process; a requirement that participants actively take steps to reduce compulsive hoarding within two months of membership; and a willingness to post behavioral goals and progress on the website at least once per month. The group format was based on CBT methods, and members had access to mental health information, educational resources, tips on how to dehoard/declutter and organize, thought records, cognitive strategies, lists of professional contacts, and a real-time chat room.

Compulsive hoarding is a disabling and distressing problem that can be difficult to manage and overcome. This research provided additional information about the effectiveness of hoarding-specific CBT methods.

Internet-based self-help for compulsive hoarding may be helpful in relieving symptoms, building motivation, and reducing loneliness. Additionally, such resources may extend access to mental health care, complement existing evidence-based practices, reduce treatment costs, and appeal to individuals concerned about the stigma surrounding mental health treatments. Evaluating the benefits of web-based self-help and peer intervention groups is critical, given the growing popularity of and demand for web interventions.