Emerging news

with my Americorp VISTA supervisor and mentor, Sheila Donahue -King

with my Americorp VISTA supervisor and mentor, Sheila Donahue -King

My two minutes of fame

My two minutes of fame

I was honored with an award from the MA Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (MA-NASW)  on April 4th, 2014.  The Emerging Leader award.

You often hear people talk about their fifteen minutes of fame…well I was given two!  Two minutes to make a speech…. for me that’s not very long.  I tried to thank everyone, but for anyone I forgot… thank you!  A big thank you to everyone who has supported my learning, growing, and self-esteem along the way.





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The Healing Power of Groups

I have had the privilege of running supportive educational groups for people who hoard for the past eight years.  Research shows that group participation in a facilitated support group shows “much improvement” of the hoarding behaviors.*

There is something so powerful about “finding your people” as more than one person has said to me over the years.  The thought that no one else will understand your secret drives many people who hoard into self-isolation.  People will say that coming to a group is scary at first, but after the first meeting their starts to grow a sense of belonging that is in itself extremely therapeutic.

I had someone in the 8th week of a 10 week group stand up and say for the first time in her life “I am a hoarder.”  No one laughed, no one asked her to explain in voyeuristic detail what that meant to her, not one person shook their head in disapproval.

What did happen was immediate applause spread throughout the room.  An acknowledgment of her bravery and encouragement for her to continue the very hard work of understanding how to slowly hoard less.  In the applause was an acknowledgment that my hoarding no longer needs to define me, but that it is an area that I need to work on: how my thoughts influence my behaviors.

Groups are growing in number as more clinicians are taking an interest in working with people who hoard and also their families.  Check to see if your area has a hoarding task force to guide you to find a group near you.

Please spread the word that a group for Adult Children of People who Hoard will begin on Wednesday, January 29th and run for six consecutive weeks.  The group will be held at the Sutton Home for Women (men also welcome) in Peabody, MA from 6:45-8 p.m.  Plenty of free parking and refreshments will be served.  For more information e-mail me at lauriegrantlicsw@gmail.com.     

*Muroff, J., Bratiotis, C., and Steketee, G. Treatments for Hoarding Behaviors: A review of the evidence. (2011) Clinical Social Work, 39, 406-423

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Thanksgiving gives each of us an opportunity to look around and re-evaluate what we are thankful for in our lives.  First thoughts for many people might go to family, friends and health, a roof over my head.bigstock-Gratitude-37954498

After the initial thoughts what follows?

As an exercise you might grab a pen and paper and make a list of what brings you joy and a sense of gratitude to your life.  Spend some time creating this list, letting all of your thoughts flow without judgement.  Take a moment and review your list, reading it over a few times.

Next evaluate what is on your list and make note of what is not on your list. 

If for example you are grateful for having the energy to play with your grandchildren or walk your fiesty dog- think about creating more space in your life to do just that.

Did your collection of magazines or newspapers not make the list? Or spending time with a friend who brings your spirits down? Perhaps that might be letting you know that it’s time to let them go so there is more space for what is bringing you joy and gratitude.

This exercise is good to do from time to time as you are contemplating making changes in your life.  It asks you to do something which can be very difficult- which is to ask yourself, what do I want and what do I need?  What do you want more of in your life? What will fill up your days in a positive way?

I am thankful for having the opportunity to work with and on beahalf of some amazing people.  I learn something new everyday and I am grateful for that.  thank you.


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Feel the Change in the Air?

There is something about the Fall that makes me feel refreshed, energized and ready to make changes in my life.

Visually the colors move me, I love walking outside and seeing color and falling leaves.  The sensations of walking through leaves and the sounds that they make crunching under my feet remind me to take a moment and breathe in the fresh air.  Fall is also brief in time, and I know that Winter will soon approach- so I take every chance I can to spend time outside and just be.  Sitting on the grass or running around with my children.

This year the Fall feels even more energizing because I am focusing again on what I love and want to do- build Reaching a Fork in the Road.

In early September I faced my test anxiety and sat down to take a 4 hour exam.   I tested for my LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker) exam.  After 4 long hours and some computer calculations – PASSED appeared on the screen.  I did a happy dance at the thought that I had just completed my last standardized test!  I also danced a jig to the thought of what this means to me professionally.

It means that I can now offer my services to more people.  I am currently in the process of joining insurance boards and will be able to accept insurance, including medicare in the near future.

I am also energized that I have found an office space in Salem that I will be using for in-office visits.  I still plan on visiting people at their homes if that is were they are most comfortable, but an office space allows for more options and a place to meet privately.  Meeting at Panera Bread has its advantages (love the pastries and coffee), but it also has its price in extra calories and lack of privacy.

So now your saying – That’s great Laurie!  How do I refer people to you?  Who should I refer to you?

How:  You can direct potential clients to my web-site www.reachingaforkintheroad.com or e-mail lauriegrantlicsw@gmail.com or phone (617) 548-8927

Who: 1) people who feel that their possessions have taken control of their lives (material and emotional) possessions. 2) older adults who are feeling blue or worried more days than not, thinking or dreading their retirement, overwhelmed by life changes. 3)someone who is ready to confront obsessive or impulsive thoughts and wants to work on new behaviors 4) a person who is having a hard time adjusting to a change in their life and wants support during this time of transition.

Now your asking- What do I get if I refer someone to you?  A gift card?

I wish I could give out gift cards, but in my profession that is unethical and against our Code of Ethics.  What I will give you for a referral is my promise that I will treat your friend, family member, client with care and help them make the connections to move forward with their goals.  A thank you card might also come your way.

Thank you so much for the support as I move forward with my own goals and dreams.




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Second Year in Business

I feel blessed to say that Reaching a Fork in the Road is still moving forward and keeping me busy…so busy that my web-site is in desperate need of an update.  I’ll have to get to that, one of these days.

Here are a few highlights from the past year that I want to share:

I continue to have the opportunity to meet and work with some amazing, fascinating people. My greatest joy is playing a part in a transformation and watching a client do something just a little bit differently and feel a LOT better.  Thank you to the people and families that I have had the chance to work with this past year.

Traveling– I have put some miles on my old mercury sable this past year.  Presenting workshops in Franklin County, Martha’s Vineyard, Brockton, the Cape, Boston and Princeton.  It is always fun to get in the car and see and area of the world (well state) that I have never been too.  Although I did not grow up in MA, I really do feel at home here now.

Consulting work– I continue to work with MassHousing helping to develop and implement Hoarding community efforts/Task Forces. Masshousing has done so much in this area and continues to be the go to for up to date information on hoarding resources.  I had a great chance to work via phone/skype with a group from Canada.   And I recently had the opportunity to meet with a group from Brisbane, Australia (here in Boston) who are looking at our work to start their own programs.

Greater Lynn Senior Services- The hoarding program at GLSS continues to grow and be viewed by many as a best practice program in the state- maybe the country!  I am proud of my work at GLSS developing and implementing this program and for the support of the agency as we figure out how to pay for this important work.  We are laying the ground work and waiting patiently for the funding to appear…. funder’s give me a call!

Salem State University– I am still teaching as an adjunct in the Bachelors of Social Work program at Salem State University.  One of the highlights from the past year was having the opportunity to serve as a field liaison and conduct the seminar class.  I had a small group of students who I was able to get to know very well and watch them grow from their first day of internship to their graduation date.  I love teaching for many reasons- the students enthusiasm and interest in the field, the energy of the campus, surrounding myself in a learning environment, having the chance to talk to and pick the brain of the professors who I respect and admire.

Hoarding Best Practice Guide for MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs- A project I have worked on this past year has been to chair a committee and work on gathering our collective knowledge to produce a guide for senior service agencies on how to work with and address the mental health issue of hoarding.  I just submitted the first draft and hitting that send button felt SO good.  I’m not sure when it will be available, but I will keep people updated on my Reaching A Fork in the Road facebook page.

On a personal note- My family is about to welcome our second son.  In just four weeks we will go through our own next transition and become a family of four.  I’ll be taking a bit of a break October 29th through January to focus on my new little joy and figure out our new norm.  If you know me- you know I have a lot of energy so I expect to still be checking e-mail (I just can’t help myself), phone calls on the other hand might not happen..it’s going to get loud around here.

What do I hope for in Year 3?

-I hope to test for my LICSW – still plugging away on my clinical hours.

-I hope to grow the Family and Loved One Support Group (see group page for more details)

-I hope to continue to have the opportunity to work with new clients and their families

-I hope to move the program at GLSS into a self sustaining program that has a budget and staff support

-I hope to continue to work with and encourage students to enter the field of gerontology

-I hope to continue to work on my own families work/life balance and have time for both work, family, travel and play

Thank you for your support of Reaching a Fork in the Road.  I learn best when I am meeting with and engaged with professionals and seniors who are passionate and care about their work, and I feel thankful that I have that opportunity every day.

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Film Screening and Discussion of My Mother’s Garden

November 2, 2011


Film Screening and Discussion at Salem State University to Address Issues of Compulsive Hoarding and the Impact on Friends and Families

Salem, MA —     My Mother’s Garden, www.mymothersgardenmovie.com, a film by Cynthia Lester, tells the very personal story of her mother, Eugenia Lester’s severe hoarding disorder and the impact on their family.   The film documents how one family comes together to cope with their mother’s disorder and rebuild a lost sense of family.  Hosted by Salem State University School of Social Work, the film and follow up discussion will take place on Saturday November 19th at 2:30 pm in Marsh Hall Theatre, 352 Lafayette Street, Salem.   The 70 minute film will be followed by a Q & A and discussion of how hoarding affects loved ones and families.  Light refreshments will be provided.   A suggested donation of $5.00 is requested.

“Hoarding is especially stressful for family members.   Until recently most of the research on hoarding and the media focus has been on the hoarder themselves and hasn’t looked holistically at the impact on family members. We saw a need in the community to get the word out that there are resources for loved ones, and that they too need support”, states Laurie Grant, Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

For further information and to RSVP, please contact either Laurie Grant, 617-548-8927, laurie@reachingaforkintheroad.com, or Liz Vago, 978-744-3442, lizvago@aol.com

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Celebrating Year One…onto Year Two!

A Year in Review

What an amazing first year I have had building Reaching a Fork in the Road.  I have spent some  time reviewing and reflecting on the year and wanted to share some of my favorite accomplishments (in no particular order):

  • As a consultant for Mass Housing I have helped Norwood, Barnstable, Mashpee, Cambridge, Middleborough, and Brockton plan and develop hoarding task forces.
  • I taught Social Work 101 at Salem State University
  • I ran 2 Clear the Clutter from Your Life, six week support groups , the members are still meeting once a month for on-going support
  • I have had the pleasure and honor of working with clients and witnessing some real change and accomplishment!
  • I have continued my education in motivational interviewing, value based coaching, mindfulness, and cognitive behavior therapy.
  • I have met with Dr. Christiana Bratiotis, at Boston University, for consulation and continued growth in the area of working with individuals who hoard
  • Panelist at Department of Mental Health Conference, Hoarding and Risk Management
  • Presented a workshop at the MA Association for Advancement of Group Work Conference “Older Adults and groups”
  • Committee member for SWRI Initiative, NASW – speaker at high schools to encourage young adults to consider social work as a career
  • Member of Home Based Business Women’s Network

I am amazed at how much I have been able to squeeze into the first year of my business. I feel energized and excited at the prospect of what is to come as I embark on year 2!   I would like to thank my colleques and friends for your support, and referrals.

Starting Year 2 

My goal for year 2 is to bring more of a focus to the work I am doing by  clearly defining what it is I do and who is a potential client …. I know what I do, but do you?

I love coaching, but I will also be testing for my LICSW at some point during year 2.  I will be finding a way to use both coaching and social work practices to best meet the needs of older adults.

I am also ready to hire or partner with someone to grow the business.

Here we go – Cheers to year 2!

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Enjoying the Fall

The last few months have been amazing.  The Fall is by far my favorite time of year, I love the crisp air, pumpkins and the yellow and reds of the trees in my neighborhood.  This year I had a little more time to enjoy the change in season and the chance to watch my growing toddler play in the leaves (I am smiling right now as I write this).  It does not surprise me that I have not updated my blog, any down time was spent outside you will all be happy to know.  It is cold out there today, so here I am typing away!

Reaching a Fork in the Road had a busy Fall, it started out by hitting the road and traveling to the towns of Barnstable, Mashpee, Middleborough, and Norwood to present and help the groups plan and build there Hoarding Task Forces.  Each town was unique, but at the same time they are all  trying their best to address the issue of hoarding at the community level.  Today more than ever it is important for agencies to collaborate in an effort of sharing resources and time.

I have had the privilege of working with a number of clients privately.  Some of the subjects we have addressed have been simplifying, downsizing a large home, and starting a business.  Thank you so much for welcoming me into your lives, it really has been fun to see each of you make changes and find increased happiness.

I spoke at the Beverly Sen-net meeting on September 22nd to an audience of close to a 100!  The topic: Hoarding and how a Community Responds.  I spoke about the work I am doing at Greater Lynn Senior Services as the Hoarding Outreach Specialist.  We are providing in home support to individuals who hoard and have started a community group called Greater Lynn HOPE (Hoarding Outreach Partnership Effort).  I also attended and spoke at the State Wide Hoarding Steering Committee held at MassHousing in October.  MassHousing has led the way in educating housing and other professionals on the subject of hoarding.

Which brings us to today- the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  I like most of the country plan on exercising and eating healthier after the feast a few days ago.  Does a walk around the block count as exercise for today?  Some exciting things about to happen include an article that will come out soon in Living Right Along a publication of Northeast Senior Health/Beverly Hospital.  A Clutter support group that will begin in January in Peabody.  Also I will be looking for sites to host a New Beginnings group that will focus on making the most of your “retirement” years.  The group will follow the 2young2retire format, but also allow for those who are currently in retirement to participate.

A Thank you if you read this entire post and a Thank you for all of you who have helped and supported my efforts.  We all need cheerleaders/champions to encourage and build us up… so we can not only keep going, but do it well.


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After a week in California I feel refreshed and ready for… another vacation?! How can that be?  How can that always be!!  I like work, I like home…the day to day- but there is something truly wonderful about having a set amount of time when you can focus not on what you like but instead on what you love.  Leisurely meals, ocean walks, time with family and friends- and the luxury of afternoon naps.

On this trip I had a chance to visit one of my favorite places, Santa Barbara.  My college friends and I spent a long weekend renting a house in Goleta, close to the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Our trip was as much about reconnecting as it was about eating and eating we did- we indulged, as we spent time remembering our college days.  So much has changed with our group of friends, yet we are still able to connect and create new memories.  I am so thankful that everyone took time out of their busy schedules to set aside this weekend to enjoy and celebrate our lasting friendships.  I love you girls!!!

August will be a busy month for Reaching a Fork in the Road.  I am working with Mass Housing to assist in the creation of hoarding task forces throughout the state of Massachusetts.  In the next week I will be traveling to Barnstable and Norwood.  I am also putting the finishing touches on a brochure and creating new business cards.  I am scheduling groups/workshops for the Fall/Winter.  Putting proposals together today.

OH vacation I miss you-Laurie      

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Today is a new day

Well yes it is a new day… let’s see what has happened in the past two weeks (after 9 months of soul searching and planning)

1) Left my job at the Beverly Council on Aging

2) Started a new job .. part-time at Greater Lynn Senior Services

3) Really working with clients and enjoying every minute of it

4) More time at home with my family

5) And I have even managed to work out regularly, so I feel better physically and mentally

Things are looking up for me…. Who’s next?

I look forward to hearing from you.


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