While much of the focus is properly on finding ways to treat hoarders themselves, there seems to have been very little attention paid to the treatment needs of the children of hoarders. Indeed, children of hoarders are often mentioned by professionals as being obstacles and problems, rather than as being people in their own right who are hurting and need support at least as much as the hoarders. From the Children of Hoarders website (childrenofhoarders.com), it is plain that many COH (myself included) have been raised in conditions of harrowing squalor, and such children often suffer from social isolation, social anxiety, poor self esteem, and many other issues that can last far into adulthood. Given that hoarders tend to be rather refractory to treatment, as well as the lengthy time typically required for treatment of hoarders, I'd really like to see clinicians and other professionals thinking more holistically about the entire family, particularly since, from a utilitarian perspective, family members may well be far more open to and benefit more from therapy and support than the hoarder is likely to benefit, at least in the short term. The short term is particularly important here, since, for a child of a hoarder, the short term may well encompass critical development periods such as early childhood, adolescence, etc.
Dr. Randy Frost, the co-author of "Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things", responded to my comment as follows:
You raise a great point. Most of the research has focused on the people who hoard and not on family members. We've done one study of family members and have another under way, but virtually nothing has been done on developing treatments or support groups for them. I believe this will happen. There is such a great deal of research on hoarding now that it is only a matter of time.