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12 & 12

Common name for A.A.®’s book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

4th Step Inventory

The traditional meaning is to make a written inventory of ourselves to discover our assets and character defects. Another meaning of Step Four is to physically sort through our stuff. See the “Recovery from Cluttering: The 12 Steps of Clutterers Anonymous℠” leaflet, available in the CLA store, and the 12 Steps of CLA℠.

7th Tradition

There are no dues or fees for membership; we are self-supporting through our own 7th Tradition contributions, neither soliciting nor accepting outside donations.

action lines

Telephone conference lines used for activity sessions

activity session

A phone activity session is a gathering of two or more clutterers who come together on a CLA conference call line on a designated day and time. They actively declutter, set goals, make commitments, announce victories, give and receive support in taking actions.


Non-disclosure of any information about a CLA member

The Big Book®

Common name for A.A.’s book Alcoholics Anonymous®


We bookend when we talk to other CLA members before and after taking difficult steps in our recovery. This way we can hold ourselves accountable for completing a specific task or project.


CLA member and helpmate in recovery. We may call buddies with our daily plan, or ask for help with a project.


CLutterers Anonymous

CLA-approved literature
  • CLA Literature: Literature written by and for CLA members and approved by WSO for use in recovery. Includes nine recovery leaflets, one leaflet for professionals, one newcomer booklet, and the CLA Meeting Starter Kit

  • A.A.® Literature: Includes Alcoholics Anonymous® (The Big Book®) and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (The 12 & 12)

CLA meeting directory

Listing of all CLA meetings


CLA’s quarterly newsletter written by and for CLA members

CLA Meeting Starter Kit

Contains sample meeting formats, documents, and literature used to start a CLA recovery meeting

closed meeting

A gathering of two or more clutterers where only clutterers are invited


Clutter is anything we don’t need, want, or use that takes our time, energy, or space and destroys our serenity.

Clutter-Free Day (CFD)

Day-long, regional recovery event that consists of CLA speakers, workshops, and fellowship


A person who struggles with having physical or nonphysical excess. Many clutterers may have difficulty with organization or have a tendency to procrastinate.


Creating or adding to physical or nonphysical clutter


Two-day recovery event that consists of CLA speakers, panels, workshops, recovery meetings, fellowship, some meals, and entertainment


Verbalization that includes: 1) advice-giving, criticizing, or making comments about what others have already shared, 2) questioning or interrupting, 3) talking while someone is sharing, or 4) speaking directly to another person rather than to the group. Crosstalk is discouraged during meetings.


Reducing or eliminating clutter


Event that takes place on a Phone Activity Session phone line where clutterers share their decluttering actions. There may also be speakers, goal setting, progress reporting, etc. See CLA Declutterthon.

delegate (noun)

Elected group member who 1) serves as a liaison between his or her home group and WSO by communicating information between both and 2) represents the group’s conscience at WSO


We provide a place for our possessions and return them there. We create a home for anything before bringing it in. When we add a new item, we release an old one. For accessibility, beauty, and peace of mind, we keep some empty space.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee consists of WSO officers, committee chairpersons, and intergroup chairpersons. The purpose of the Executive Committee is to address specific concerns critical to the functioning of CLA.

Experience, Strength, and Hope (ESH)

What it was like before our recovery from clutter, how CLA helped us, and where we are now


Socializing with other clutterers

The Fellowship

The members of Clutterers Anonymous℠ as a whole


Our goal is to do one thing at a time.

format (noun)

Written and timed script for facilitating a CLA meeting

goat path

Narrow trail through piles of clutter

group (noun)

A CLA recovery meeting. Both recovery and business meetings are considered meetings, but only recovery meetings are referred to as groups.

Higher Power (H.P.)

Any power greater than oneself. (Some people prefer to use this term instead of “God.”)


A clutterer who excessively collects objects and/or animals, resulting in nonfunctional or unsafe living conditions for themselves or others


Excessive collection and retention of things until they interfere with personal effectiveness

home group

A single CLA group that you attend regularly and where you feel connected and comfortable.


Grouping of CLA meetings in a limited geographical area

meeting (recovery meeting)

A meeting is formed when two or more clutterers gather together to share their experience, strength, and hope, so that they may solve their common problem and help each other to recover from cluttering, using the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of CLA.

meetings, face-to-face

Meetings held in a physical location

meetings, phone

Meetings held on the telephone using a conference line

Newcomer’s Guide

Common name for CLA’s 28-page booklet “Is CLA for You? A Newcomer’s Guide to Recovery”

open lines

Telephone action lines between scheduled activity sessions

open meeting

A gathering of two or more clutterers where everyone, including non-clutterers, is welcome


Expected and enforced guidelines for behavior for a meeting or activity session


A CLA speaker’s detailed description of his/her experience, strength, and hope with recovery from cluttering


The process by which CLA groups register meeting and contact changes and additions with WSO. Yearly registration is required in order to be listed on the CLA Meeting Directory. WSO delegates from meetings are required to register as well.


Giving back to the Fellowship to enhance our own recovery (There are many ways to be of service, for example: at meetings, as a sponsor, at the WSO level.)

share (noun)

A CLA member’s brief description of his/her experience, strength, and hope with clutter

speaker’s meeting

A gathering of two or more clutterers at which one or more CLA members describe at some length their experience, strength, and hope with clutter and recovery

spiritual timer

A meeting volunteer who tracks and informs speakers of elapsed time


Clutterer who receives guidance from a sponsor in working the 12 Steps of CLA.


The CLA sponsor guides the sponsee through the program and the 12 Steps and is not necessarily a friend, but someone in whom we can confide.

Starter Kit

See CLA Meeting Starter Kit.


The 12 Steps of CLA.


We keep only those items we use and for which we have space.


The CLA Tools of Recovery


The 12 Traditions of CLA


We simplify our lives, believing that when we need a fact or an item, it will be available to us.


World Service Organization. WSO is the CLA service body responsible for producing and mailing out literature; maintaining the CLA website; answering phone, email, and postal correspondence; support and communication among CLA groups; furthering communication among groups; and making decisions which affect the Fellowship as a whole. All CLA members may attend and participate in WSO General Meetings. Voting members include elected delegates from meetings, WSO officers, WSO committee chairpersons, and intergroup chairpersons.

A.A. and The Big Book are registered trademarks of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.