Research Grant Program

Aligning with our mission of improving lives affected by chronic disorganization, ICD established our research grants program in 2013.

In the years the program is offered, the winning projects are determined by a thorough, content-oriented review by our Research Advisory Council, and financial/business approval by the ICD Board of Directors. 

Chronic disorganization implies that disorganization meets the following criteria: 1) it persists over a long period a time; 2) it is accompanied by failed attempts at self-help; 3) it has a negative impact on people’s daily lives, and 4) the likelihood of persistence or recurrence of disorganization is great.

ICD has collaborated with researchers on specific projects throughout its history.

This program is designed to encourage and reward graduate students (i.e., master's and Ph.D. level) working in topic areas related to chronic disorganization, such as (including but not limited to the following):

  • ADHD and time/possessions disorganization
  • Anxiety or depression and time/possessions disorganization
  • Brain injuries, concussions and time/possessions disorganization
  • Communication skills, interpersonal intelligence, learning styles or decision-making styles and disorganization
  • Chronic physical disabilities and time/possessions disorganization
  • Productivity/time management and chronic disorganization factors
  • Community-oriented studies about prevention/services
  • Collaborative response by community agencies to hoarding (pets or possessions)
  • Hoarding task forces
  • Aging and time/possessions disorganization
  • The transition of the elderly to community living
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy [or other counseling interventions] and collaboration with professional organizers
  • Major life transitions and disruptions to self-identity
  • Clutter and quality of life
  • Grief and loss, including loss of possessions resulting from natural disasters
  • Compulsive hoarding, compulsive buying and possession attachment
  • OCD and time/possessions disorganization

Proposals or Questions

Please send to our Research Director, at [email protected]
In the years the program is offered, the winning projects are determined by a thorough, content-oriented review by our Research Advisory Council and financial/business approval by the ICD Board of Directors. Each student or team of students will receive reviewers' comments.

Past Winning Projects

Awarded to:

David Charles, M.S., Ph.D. program, Psychology, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, Illinois, USA

For the research project:

An Investigation of Category Learning and Hoarding Problems

Proposal Abstract

Hoarding Disorder (HD) is a serious psychiatric condition that is characterized by excessive acquisition, difficulty discarding, and clutter. While HD has been included as a separate diagnosis in the DSM-V, more research is needed to fully understand how HD is distinct from other disorders such as OCD and to improve treatments available for HD. The current cognitive-behavioral theoretical model of HD suggests that the disorder is in part caused by information processing deficits, which impacts various executive functions such as organization. Initial studies have attempted to measure organization skills by utilizing sorting tasks and explicit category learning tasks (e.g., the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task). To date, studies utilizing
these tasks have been inconclusive and explicit category learning deficits are commonly found in individuals with OCD. Preliminary neurobiological studies of hoarding behaviors suggest that these individuals may suffer from implicit category learning deficits. The current proposed study aims to compare implicit category learning performances among individuals with HD, OCD, and other anxiety disorders to help further elucidate the distinctions between these disorders. Doing so may also better inform treatments and strategies to help address the chronic disorganization that helps maintain dysfunction in individuals who hoard or similar difficulties.

Awarded to:

Rachael Suffrin, Clinical/Community Psychology Ph.D. Student, and Juline Girts, Psychology Masters Student of DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, USA

For the research project:

Let’s be Intentional about Our Stuff: Exploring Clutter and Quality of Life

Proposal Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore the relationships between clutter and quality of life. In this study, we are exploring the quality of life in terms of a stronger psychological sense of home and sense of community. As many intentional living communities proactively work towards building a sense of community and developing more than “just a home” for residents (with some also subscribing to a living simply philosophy), examining how beliefs, expectancies and attitudes about “home” may differ between intentional living communities, and traditional living situations (e.g., with roommates, living alone, in a dorm) will help to better understand the relationship between sense of community, home, clutter, and disorganization, as well as place and object attachment. Although many studies rely almost exclusively on self-report methods, this study exemplifies ingenuity and innovation by utilizing a combination of not only self-report, but also structured in-home observations with individuals across multiple samples (i.e., college student, post-undergraduate fellows, and adults in the community) to gain a clearer sense of how these variables interconnect. Findings may help to better understand how to improve the quality of life for individuals living in chronic disorganization and clutter.


Awarded to:

Kim Stetson Bolstad, B.A., and Taylor Wolf, B.S. Masters Program, Professional Mental Health Counseling, Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling, Portland, Oregon, USA

For the research project

Clutter Support Group for Individuals with Chronic Disorganization

Proposal Abstract

This qualitative study will identify benefits that self-identified “chronically disorganized” individuals gain from attending a clutter support group.  The support group, designed by the authors, is a psycho-education focused group helping participants learn and gain insight into their own individual hoarding situations, and teaches participants decluttering and organizing skills.  The trial support group, January to February 2016, received positive feedback from all group members.  For this proposed study, the group will meet weekly for 10 weeks, between May and July 2016.  Both authors will facilitate each 90 minute session.  The group will be closed to a maximum of 7 individuals.  At the end of the session participants will complete a feedback survey rating their satisfaction with the session, motivation to declutter, and confidence in their ability to change.  At the conclusion of the 10 weeks participants will fill out a survey regarding the benefits gained from attending the group.  The goal of this research is to highlight the importance of a formal support group in treating chronic disorganization, and create a curriculum that may be followed by clinicians when working with individuals who suffer from chronic disorganization and/or hoarding disorder.


Awarded to:

Delinda Free, M.S.W. and Matthew Strickland, M.S.W., Masters Program, Social Work, Portland State University School of Social Work, Portland, Oregon, USA

For the research project:

My Clutter, My Story:  A Photovoice Exploration of Quality of Life

Proposal Abstract

Hoarding and excessive clutter are the subject of now hundreds of research articles, dozens of episodes of television programs, countless cartoons and catch-phrases such as “she’s such a hoarder.” The individuals who engage in hoarding and cluttering behaviors are often singularly and narrowly defined and lack the ability to share their view and voice around a situation that impacts them most intimately. In an effort to standardize the study of hoarding and understand the problem more effectively, the perspective of people who hoard and clutter is sometimes lost amidst the data and professionalism. In this small-scale qualitative study using the person-centered empowering data collection method of Photovoice, people with hoarding and cluttering behavior will share their perspective on their quality of life. The findings from this study may be useful to other sufferers, family members, human service providers and policy makers.