Today Boarding School Syndrome is recognised as a real psychological issue by therapists and psychologists that has far-reaching effects on many ex-boarder's lives and relationships. The effects of going to boarding school can lead to profound personal difficulties in intimate relationships, and fuel patterns of behaviour that can benefit greatly from being shared, understood and carefully processed with the right therapist.
My work with boarding school survivors has developed over the last five years through taking a significant interest in the work of Nick Duffell and undertaking specialist supervision and training with him. His work reveals the complex mixture of abandonment and privilege, and of trauma and privilege for many who have been sent away. Not only does his work bring back to mind and emphasise the seriousness of the impact of sending away a child at the age of eight and other ages, but it collects the voices and stories of the many men who have shared their experience and work with him through the Boarding School Survivors workshops. Therapeutically he understands that those sent away to boarding school have needed to develop strong defences against feeling weak and vulnerable in a setting where there was not enough love. This can lead to all kinds of problems such as self-reliance, addiction, workaholism, timetabling, isolation, being outwardly competent and internally feeling a sense of an impostor syndrome. While individuals may be highly successful outwardly on the inside they may be very numb or unaware of who they are, what they feel and what they really want and desire. Recognising the impact of the boarding school environment and how powerfully structures of expectation and busyness and the lack of love, bullying or abuse that might have occurred is an important part of the work. The strategies that have been learnt to survive may not be relevant now and prohibit leading a fuller and more enjoyable life. Duffell calls this the recognition stage.
I am one of a group of accredited psychotherapists and counsellors who have undertaken specialised training in working with adult ex-boarders with Nick Duffel, author of “The Making of Them”.
Further information can be found at the following links:
Boarding School Survivors