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DO YOU NEED A CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER OR CHRONIC DISORGANIZATION SPECIALIST?

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Do You Need a Certified Professional Organizer or Chronic Disorganization Specialist?

June 5, 2022

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Hello, I'm Jen
As a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization® (CPO-CD®), I am uniquely qualified with the knowledge and experience to help you with ADHD issues, hoarding, chronic disorganization, and aging. 


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Not all professional organizers are the same. Like doctors, professional organizers have different specialties. Some organizers organize specific locations like homes and corporate offices, while others focus on helping specific people. For example, there are organizers who specifically help seniors or those affected by ADHD, chronic disorganization, or hoarding.

While both certified professional organizers (CPO) and certified professional organizers who specialize in chronic disorganization (CPO-CD) help people declutter and organize their homes, they help different people. A CPO helps those who are situationally disorganized; a CPO-CD helps those affected by chronic disorganization. Each organizer offers a unique skill set and expertise. 

Today, we’re going through differences between a CPO and a CPO-CD, so you can choose the right organizer for yourself or for your loved one.  

deciding between chronic disorganization and professional organization

What’s the Difference Between a CPO vs. CPO-CD? 

A CPO goes to your home and helps you declutter, sort, organize and order your belongings. They can help you if you’re situationally disorganized, which means you’re not as organized due to a situational change in your life like the birth of a baby, a death, or a move. 

In short, you’re typically organized, but you want extra help from a CPO because you don’t have the time or don’t have the energy to do it by yourself. 

A CPO-CD also goes to your home to help do everything a CPO does from decluttering to donating. But unlike CPO clients who are situationally disorganized, CPO-CD clients are affected by chronic disorganization. 

If you’re affected by CD, you’ve been disorganized for years, and no matter how hard you try, organization doesn’t seem to stick. On top of that, disorganization has noticeably affected other parts of your life. 

Compared to a CPO, a CPO-CD is trained to provide more care, patience, and guidance through the organization process. They take their time to talk through each decision with you and understand your thought process when decluttering and organizing your space. A CPO-CD is also trained to work with those affected by their mental health. 

A CPO isn’t qualified to take on the work of a CPO-CD, but a CPO-CD can do both. 

What’s the Difference Between a Professional Organizer and a Certified Professional Organizer? 

Anyone can be a professional organizer, but not everyone can be a certified professional organizer. Getting certified takes at least five years of organizing experience, passing an exam, and continuing education. 

Training and Certification for certified professional organizer and chronic disorganization specialist

Training and Certification for CPO vs. CPO-CD

The requirement to become a CPO and a CPO-CD varies on the certification program, length of time, and education. You can think of getting certification of a CPO-CD as a master’s program and the CPO as a bachelor’s degree. 

Certification for CPO 

To become a CPO, you get certified through National Association of Productivity and Organizing (NAPO). NAPO is an organization that encourages, empowers, and trains professional organizers in the U.S. They provide training, education, and coursework to uphold each organizer to the same high standards and provide resources to help organizers help their clients to the best of their abilities.  

Here are a few of the NAPO requirements to become a CPO: 

  • Minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent 
  • 1500 hours of paid work experience within 5 years before applying for certification 
  • Adhere to highest ethical standards of the Board of Certified Professional Organizers 
  • Pass CPO Exam, which consists of 125 multiple choice questions

Certification for CPO-CD 

To become a CPO-CD, you get certified through the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). The ICD is a community of professionals who serve to understand, educate, and help those affected by chronic disorganization. 

At the ICD, the CPO-CD is the third and highest level of certification required to help clients organize. To become a CPO-CD, it’s a two year commitment with intensive course work. 

Here are a few of the many ICD requirements to get certified: 

  • Working as a professional organizer for at least 2 years 
  • Nearly two years of intensive study and practical application with clients 
  • Work with a mentor to develop skills 
  • Have experience working with CD clients 
  • Received certifications in ICD Level I and II
  • Taken three speciality courses which can include ADHD, hoarding and aging courses

Whether you work with a CPO or a CPO-CD, you can feel confident that you’re working with a professional with lots of time devoted to their skill.

When to Hire a Certified Professional Organizer Who Specializes Chronic Disorganization 

When to Hire a Certified Professional Organizer 

A professional organizer is great to work with if you need additional help organizing your space. If it’s overwhelming to do on your own, or some guidance along the way, a CPO can make the process easier. 

You should work with a CPO if you:

  • Don’t have time to get organized 
  • Are motivated, but too overwhelmed to start 
  • Can’t decide what to do next and want expert help 
  • Want help organizing your home before or after a life changing event 

It’s hard to do everything on your own and an extra set of hands from an expert CPO makes everything easier.

If you’re moving or going through a life event, a CPO is also very helpful. If you’re usually organized, but need help streamlining your home or just don’t have the time to, a CPO is perfect for you.

When to Hire a Certified Professional Organizer Who Specializes Chronic Disorganization 

Chronic disorganization (CD) occurs when disorganization has persisted for over a long period of time and disrupts your quality of life. No matter how many times you tried to get organized by yourself or with the help of others, nothing has worked. If this sounds like you or your loved one, a CPO-CD can help. 

CPO-CDs are considered the “social workers” for organizing. They have a deeper understanding of mental health, how your mind works, and how to help you. 

Here are a few other signs you should work with a CPO-CD:

  • You need to work side by side with a professional organizer, every step of the way 
  • You’re easily overwhelmed by decisions 
  • You need constant reassurance 
  • You an extremely hard time letting things go 
  • You wish your home was a livable space again 
  • You notice other areas of your life being affected by disorganization 
  • Traditional organizing methods don’t work for you 

CPO-CDs are trained to provide support every step of the way to achieve meaningful and long-lasting results for your unique condition. 

If you can’t get organized through traditional methods, a CPO-CD helps you find creative and unique ways to help you get organized and stay organized. 

If you’re working with a therapist, a CPO-CD is a perfect person to work with to supplement treatment. Working with a CPO, in this case, is not recommended because they don’t have the appropriate training. 
You want to work with a CPO-CD if you or your loved one is affected by hoarding, ADHD, or chronic disorganization.

What to Do Next

Whether you decide to work with a CPO or a CPO-CD, you can feel confident that you’re working with an expert in their field.

Knowing the differences between a CPO and CPO-CD is a great first step to choosing the right organizer for you. The next step is to talk to an expert to see how they can help you. 

If you’re truly unsure which CPO to work with, talk to a CPO-CD first. They are trained to work with both CPO and CPO-CD clients. They also have more extensive knowledge to help you get organized and get your life and space back. 

Located in Alameda County, CA, Livable Spaces is CPO-CD trained to work with those affected by chronic disorganization, ADHD, and hoarding. 

Schedule a free call today to get the help you deserve. 

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