A ‘Friendly Visitor’ Volunteer Intervention for Hoarding Disorder: Participants’ Perceptions

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2024

Publication Title

The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy


Background: Determining and delivering effective interventions for Hoarding Disorder remains challenging, and appropriate resources are often unavailable. To address the need, the Friendly Visitor Program was designed in Portland, Maine, to pair people living with hoarding disorder with a trained volunteer to help with decluttering the living environment. The majority of the trained volunteers were occupational therapy students.

Method: This qualitative research study explored participants’ perceptions in a volunteer program that addresses hoarding behaviors. The study was conducted through an interpretivist, constructivist lens, examining the Friendly Visitor hoarding intervention program through individual, in-depth, semi-structured interviews with nine participants, including three clients with hoarding disorder and six volunteers.

Results: Three strong themes emerged from the data: importance of the client-volunteer relationship; physical, emotional, and cognitive demands of decluttering; and intervention strategies used for effective decluttering.

Conclusion: These findings reveal both practical and emotional elements to be considered when offering intervention for hoarding disorder. The Friendly Visitor Program can serve as a model for the design of volunteer programs to fill gaps in hoarding intervention services.