‘Trauma, abandonment and privilege’ Nick Duffell & Thurstine Basset
In Britain boarding school became the favourite educational choice for the children of the affluent middle and upper classes. However despite well documented accounts of misery, bullying, abuse and loneliness, it is only recently that the long- term effects produced by early separation, fractured attachments and emotional repression have been understood by the medical and psychological professions.
Boarding school carries high social status, is considered a privilege, and is laden with parental expectation. Children attending boarding school learn to hide their vulnerability and put on a brave face as well as endeavouring to please their parents who invested so much in their education. However by repressing vulnerability and empathy in favour of functioning, and taking their experience as normal, many adult ex-boarders often struggle with intimate relationships and family life. By retreating into work without understanding hidden distress, they may present only a defensive façade of confidence and success.
Therapy then, may involve firstly recognising the symptoms and causes of the problem and helping the ex-boarder feel safe enough to let down the protective guard which has been their best friend. Great sensitivity is required to help dismantle lifetime defences before therapy can explore ways of helping the sufferer move from merely surviving back into living.
Therapists who have trained specifically in working with Boarding School Survivors and who offer therapy on a range of issues which may include: difficulties in relationships and parenting; workaholism; inability to relax; isolation; infidelity; a need t control; substance abuse; trauma; a sense of failure and phobias; physical, sleep and sexual problems, eating disorders; CFS/ME; IBS.
For partners and families there may be concerns over: excessive work focus, relationship or parenting difficulties; breakdown of trust; feelings of being ignored, humiliated or controlled.
To find out more, please contact [email protected] or go online to book an initial interview. Following this we will then arrange ongoing sessions with your therapist. For details of further information and training please see: Boarding School Survivors
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