Quite frequently I get asked “How in the world did you get into hoarding?”
In 2009 I had just moved to Massachusetts from Texas and was selling life insurance over the phone while contemplating what I really wanted to do with my life when I grew up….oh, and completely intrigued by a new reality tv show on A&E called “Hoarders”. In 2010 I decided to go back to school as a ‘mature student’ to get my psychology degree – which was something I had intended to do when I made my first attempt at college back in the mid 80’s. Two weeks before registering for the psychology program at Salem State University, a friend recommended that I get my Masters in Social Work instead as I would get to work directly with people sooner and be more marketable. At that time I only knew social workers were involved in connecting people with government services and working in children’s services – neither of which I saw myself ever doing. So of course, I immediately enrolled in the social work program! For the first two years of school, I frequently wondered what in the world I was doing until one day, a moment that I can still clearly remember, changed my life.
Remember the part about watching the tv show Hoarders? Well, in 2011, I was now a faithful weekly watcher and becoming more and more intrigued with the multi-faceted nature of the disorder. At the same time, as part of my Bachelors of SW requirement, I had to do a two-semester internship and I had no idea what agency to go with. On agency day, when agencies taking interns all showed up at Salem State University for students to connect with, I walked in the door with my list of top picks – drug court, which I really didn’t want anything to do with, and the other two I don’t even remember because I was equally uninterested in them too. As I walked in the door, someone to my right said ‘hoarding’. It’s amazing I didn’t break my neck when I whipped my head around trying to find where the word had come from. I quickly approached the small group of people and said – ok, maybe yelled – “HOARDING???? Did someone say HOARDING??? I can do something with hoarding????” That moment changed my life and everything I have done since has been in passionate pursuit of how to better understand and better help those struggling with and affected by clutter, hoarding behavior, and hoarding disorder.
To sum up where I am today, here is my current bio:
Prior to a recent move to TN, Marnie Matthews, MSW, LICSW, developed and was the Clinical and Program Director of the North Shore Center for Hoarding and Cluttering (NSCHC) in MA from May 2011 to June 2017. NSCHC is a clinically based program that provides support groups, individual and family counseling, peer support programs, crisis case management, case/town/task force consultations, and agency and community training. Marnie is recognized as one of the top experts in the field of hoarding work, providing local training in addition to speaking regularly at conferences and agencies throughout the United States on topics such as Understanding Hoarding Disorder, CBT for Hoarding Behavior, Hoarding Task Force Development, and the Collaborative Approach for Resolving Hoarding Cases. Marnie developed the Uniform Inspection Checklist (UIC) as a standardized and objective tool for assessing, goal setting, and the monitoring and measuring of progress in hoarding cases. The UIC is currently being used nationwide, in Canada, and in Australia to help resolve hoarding cases. Marnie is the Vice-President of the Board of Directors of The Hoarding Project, is a member of the Hoarding Task Force of Middle TN, chaired the North Shore Hoarding Task Force, was a member of the Boston Hoarding Task Force, and sat on the MA Statewide Steering Committee on Hoarding. Additionally, prior to her move, Marnie was a Graduate Level Field Instructor for the social work programs at Salem State University and Simmons College and continues to provide clinical supervision for social workers.