The Hoarding Project Research

Research plays an important part of the mission of The Hoarding Project to help promote an increased understanding of Hoarding Disorder and its influence on individuals, families, and communities.
Click here to view THP’s policy for collaboration with outside researchers. Please contact THP’s Research Director [] if you have an interest in participating in THP research or which to collaborate with THP on a study.
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THP Research Director

Jennifer Sampson, Ph.D., LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and co-founder of The Hoarding Project. Jennifer earned her doctorate in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota. Her research interests involve the influence of family and life experiences on hoarding behavior, as well as developing effective and ethical approaches to mandatory hoarding cleanouts. She has published multiple articles in academic journals on hoarding, and completed her dissertation work on understanding the influences of unresolved trauma and loss and family dynamics on hoarding behavior. She earned her Master’s degree from Seattle Pacific University and teaches at Antioch University Seattle in the Couples and Family Therapy Department. She has currently practices therapy in her private practice in Tacoma, Washington, and chairs the King/Pierce County Hoarding Task Force.
To learn more about THP research, please contact Jennifer Sampson at

THP Research- Past Projects

Sampson, J. M., & Harris, S. M. (2013). The Influences of Unresolved Trauma and Family Experiences on Hoarding Behavior: An Internet Survey. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN.

Though the field of compulsive hoarding research has been steadily growing over the past few decades, the research has been primarily confined to studying the behavior of an individual and has paid limited attention to how context and experiences may influence the behavior. Furthermore, the research specifically on the influence of the family on hoarding behavior has been scarce. To date, there are no large-scale studies that examine the combined influence that family experiences and unresolved trauma have on the severity of hoarding behavior. Our research aims to investigate these connections further.


Sampson, J.M., Yeats, J. R., & Harris, S. M. (2012). Compulsive hoarding and ambiguous loss: A clinical intervention for family members of persons who hoard. Contemporary Family Therapy. 34(4), 566-581.

The current study is a pilot evaluation of a six-week psychoeducational-support group based in an ambiguous loss framework for family members of people who hoard. Findings suggest that participants who completed the six-week intervention group (N= 8) indicated positive results at the two-month follow up interview, reporting an increased understanding of family members’ hoarding behaviors and their own experiences related to the hoarding behavior and its impact on the family. Participants also reported that having personal and professional support from others who understand hoarding behavior was helpful to them in lowering psychological distress and improving interactions with their family members.


Sampson, J. M. (2012). The lived experiences of family members of persons who compulsively hoard: A qualitative study. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2012.00315.x

The current study took an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach to investigate the lived experiences of 12 family members of persons who hoard in order to better understand family members’ understanding, emotions, perceptions, experiences, and responses in their interactions with their family members who hoard. Five overarching themes for the family members’ experience of having a person who hoards in the family emerged: negative feelings toward the family member who hoards; lack of understanding of hoarding behavior; experiences of loss; internal barriers to seeking support; and internal conflicts. Clinical implications and recommendations for future research are discussed, including a proposed theoretical framework of Ambiguous Loss for understanding and working with the experiences of family members of persons who hoard.



Past and present research projects relating to hoarding.

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Research articles pertaining to hoarding.

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