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For Newcomers
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General

1. Membership: What are the requirements for CLA℠ membership?

Tradition 3 states, “The only requirement for CLA membership is a desire to stop cluttering.

2. Religion: Is CLA a religious program?

CLA is a spiritual program, based on the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous®. We believe that we are powerless over our clutter and that our recovery comes when we surrender the self-will which has brought us to our desperation. We then turn our life and our will over to a Higher Power, a power greater than ourselves. We each choose how to define Higher Power. All clutterers, whether they are religious, spiritual, agnostics, or atheists, are welcome at CLA. Tradition 3 states, “The only requirement for CLA membership is a desire to stop cluttering.

3. Abstinence: How does CLA define abstinence?

Clutterers Anonymous℠ is not a substance-based program, so there has been controversy over whether there can be abstinence. Each person has a unique definition of recovery from clutter or hoarding derived from introspection, help from his or her Higher Power, a sponsor, or buddy. From “Measuring Progress on Our Journey in Recovery” leaflet.

4. Contact CLA: Does CLA have a phone number, email address, or mailing address for questions?

Meetings

5. Contact Others: How can I get in touch with other clutterers about my cluttering problem?

We suggest that people attend our face-to-face meetings, phone meetings, and/or phone activity sessions. There, you can meet and possibly exchange phone numbers with other clutterers. Is CLA for You? A Newcomer’s Guide to Recovery states, “Many of us found it helpful to attend at least six CLA meetings before deciding whether Clutterers Anonymous was for us.” If there is no meeting in your area, you can Start a Meeting.

6. Expectations: What happens at a meeting?

Typically, meetings open with one of the CLA serenity prayers. There is no attendance taken at meetings. No one is required to speak. Members may share their experience, strength, and hope about decluttering. We do not permit crosstalk. To protect anonymity, we ask all visitors and members to adhere to “What you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.” Meetings may use different formats so, if possible, we recommend you try different meetings to find the ones that work best for you. Some meetings have speakers, for example, while others discuss CLA literature or study the 12 Steps and/or 12 Traditions. The group conscience of each meeting determines its practices such as where they meet, what they do at meetings, and whether they offer refreshments. Opportunities to be of service or volunteer often exist at meetings and help our recovery. Our 7th Tradition states, “Every CLA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.” Consequently, meetings usually include a request for 7th Tradition contributions. Usually, meetings end after reciting another CLA serenity prayer.

7. Meeting Variations: What types of meeting are there?

CLA offers face-to-face meetings, phone and Skype® meetings, and/or phone activity sessions. Meetings may be open to everyone or closed (open only to clutterers). Different meetings follow different formats. Some discuss CLA or A.A.® literature, some do 12-Step study, some have CLA speakers, some do writing, and some have prayer circles.

8. New Meetings: Can I find out if you hear from people interested in starting a meeting in my area?

We don’t keep inquiries or make referrals. Start a meeting by ordering the CLA Meeting Starter Kit available in our CLA store or getting a free download. Among other things, it suggests ways to attract people to your meeting.

9. No Meetings: There are no meetings in my area. What do I do?

Every CLA meeting was started by someone who needed a meeting close to them. See Start a Meeting. Attend phone meetings, and phone activity sessions.

10. Start Meetings: How do I start a CLA meeting in my area?
11. Leaders & Officers: Who runs CLA meetings?

The meeting’s members elect officers such as meeting leader (secretary or chair), treasurer, delegate to World Service, literature person, and, if appropriate, a CLA-East Intergroup representative. Giving service to the Fellowship is part of our recovery. It gives us a chance to pay back what we have been freely given. Tradition 2 states, "Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern." If a weekly meeting, a six-month term for officers is suggested. If a monthly meeting, a year. Rotation of officers is healthy because it prevents burnout and gives members a chance to be of service and pay back what they have received.

12. Anonymity: How do we ensure that what we say in meetings won’t be repeated outside the meeting?

We can’t guarantee anonymity but do ask that all meeting attendees respect the confidentiality and anonymity of all Clutterers Anonymous members. You can inform members about anonymity by putting up a sign where members can see it and/or reading a statement saying: “WHAT YOU SEE HERE, WHAT YOU HEAR HERE, WHEN YOU LEAVE HERE, LET IT STAY HERE.”

Resources

13. Literature: What CLA literature exists and how can I get it?

CLA does not have a book yet. In the meantime, we use Alcoholics Anonymous® (The Big Book®) and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions as guides. About CLA use of A.A.® Literature.

14. Tips & Tools: What can CLA do to help me declutter?

CLA has our Tools of Recovery that help us achieve and maintain physical, emotional, and spiritual sobriety. We also have a leaflet called “Spiritual Timing” that deals with time clutter. CLA does not promote any particular decluttering plan or organizing skills.

15. Basic Four: I’ve heard of a “basic four.” Does CLA advocate using it?

No. The “basic four” is from an outside source. According to Tradition 6, CLA cannot endorse it.

16. Online CLA: Is there a CLA online group, bulletin board, or a chat room?

No, at this time, CLA offers face-to-face meetings, phone and Skype® meetings, and phone activity sessions. This is the only CLA WSO website. Other local meetings and Intergroups may have their own web locations.

17. Active Help: How can CLA help me while I declutter?

We have Phone Activity Sessions that allow participants to make decluttering commitments, focus actions, report victories, and find buddies. Depending on the individuals, some buddies may help each other with physical clutter.

18. Sponsors: Do you have 12-Step sponsors?

Yes. "Sponsors are CLA members who are committed to recovery through the 12 Steps and the 12 Traditions." A Step Sponsor leads us through the 12 Steps of recovery. Tools of Recovery states, "Choosing a sponsor involves going to several meetings to find someone with whom we can identify–someone who has the type of recovery that we want." We also have Buddies. Tools of Recovery states, "Buddies are CLA members and helpmates in recovery. We may call them with our daily plan or ask them for help with a project."

19. Outsiders: Do you allow outside speakers and non-CLA literature?

No. Speakers must be CLA members. They share how they used the CLA program to recover and their experience, strength, and hope. Subject to Tradition 6, there is no promotion of personal enterprises, businesses, or affiliations outside CLA. With the exception of A.A.® literature, only CLA-approved literature is to be used at CLA meetings.

20. Professional Help: Does CLA have a referral network of professionals that can help clutterers with their clutter?

No. Tradition 6 states, “A CLA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the Clutterers Anonymous℠ name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, or prestige divert us from our primary purpose.” We do not mention any non-CLA-approved literature or outside enterprises, which include books, tapes, workshops, websites, authors, public speakers, consultants, broadcasts, trademarked products or systems, and the like.

21. Events: Does CLA hold any regional, national, or international events?

CLA offers the following face-to-face events:

  • CLA convention: two-day recovery event that consists of CLA speakers, panels, workshops, recovery meetings, fellowship, some meals, and entertainment

  • CLA-East Intergroup's Clutter-Free Day: day-long, regional recovery event that consists of CLA speakers, workshops, and fellowship

  • Other Clutter-Free Days: when possible at other locations

CLA also offers Declutterthons℠, holiday-weekend, phone-based events that consist of qualification speakers and activity sessions.

Friends & Family

22. Help for Non-Clutterers: I am the relative, friend, or other person concerned about a clutterer. How can CLA help me help him/her?

There are no CLA-sanctioned 12-Step groups for friends or family of clutterers at this time. For suggestions, see our “For Non-Clutterers” page.

23. Non-Clutters Help Clutterers: How do I break through the denial barrier with a clutterer whom I care about?
  1. Work on your own attitude first. Go to a CLA open meeting. Read our literature. Work the 12 Steps. Accept that cluttering is an addiction just as real as alcohol.

  2. Realize that the cluttering is not meant to annoy and would be the same (probably worse) if you weren’t there.

  3. Make sure your interest is compassionate.

  4. The more you accept clutterers as they are, the more you show that you care about their welfare, the more they become willing to change.

  5. Don't expect instant change. Their way of coping by cluttering may be all they know.

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