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How We Clutter


Emotions Shape What We Buy and Save

Jane E. Brody guides New York Times readers on how a person’s beliefs and emotions may lead to excessive buying and saving that results in cluttered spaces. Hoarding is the act of acquiring many possessions and the failure to discard them, resulting in the accumulation of clutter (Frost & Gross, 1993). It is important to consider that the extent to which hoarding gets in the way of healthy living varies from person to person and within a person’s lifetime. Ms. Brody offers reasonable suggestions for how to de-clutter, including setting manageable action-oriented goals, acting committedly and quickly, and relying on friends and others who can provide more objective appraisals of belongings. Making and maintaining these changes can be hard.

CBT for Hoarding Can Help

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for hoarding disorder helps individuals reduce their acquiring and saving habits, develop new skills to categorize and discard items, and learn new ways of thinking and relating to their possessions. Those who find it difficult to implement Ms. Brody’s suggestions on their own may benefit from professional help. If you believe that you or a loved one may benefit from this professional help, consider using>ABCT’s Find a Therapist tool.

Frost, R. O., & Gross, R. C. (1993). The hoarding of possessions. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 31(4), 367–381.

To see the full New York Times article:

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Thanks to

Maria Jiménez-Salazar M.A, Ph.D. Candidate in Clinical Psychology at Fordham University;

Series Editor:

Nicholas C Crimarco Ph.D.

What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of treatment that is based firmly on research findings.  It places emphasis on changing your cognitions (thoughts) or behaviors (actions) in order to effect change in how you feel. These approaches help people in achieving specific changes or goals.

Changes or goals might involve:

A way of acting: like smoking less or being more outgoing;
A way of feeling: like helping a person to be less scared, less depressed, or less anxious;
A way of thinking: like learning to problem-solve or get rid of self-defeating thoughts;
A way of dealing with physical or medical problems: like reducing back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.

Cognitive behavioral therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past. They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life. CBT is an effective treatment for individuals, parents, children, couples, and families. The goal of CBT is to help people improve and gain more control over their lives by changing behaviors that don’t work well to ones that do.

How to Get Help

If you are looking for help, either for yourself or someone else, you may be tempted to call someone who advertises in a local publication or who comes up from a search of the Internet. You may, or may not, find a competent therapist in this manner. It is wise to check on the credentials of a psychotherapist. It is expected that competent therapists hold advanced academic degrees. They should be listed as members of professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association. Of course, they should be licensed to practice in your state. You can find competent specialists who are affiliated with local universities or mental health facilities or who are listed on the websites of professional organizations. You may, of course, visit our website ( and click on “Find a CBT Therapist”

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an interdisciplinary organization committed to the advancement of a scientific approach to the understanding and amelioration of problems of the human condition. These aims are achieved through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to assessment, prevention, and treatment.

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