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Boarding School Survivors

I have a specialism in working with adults who are ex-boarders. Due largely to the work of Nick Duffel and Joy Schaverien, it is now widely recognized that there are a collection of learned behaviors and emotional states that may follow growing up in boarding school which can lead to serious psychological distress.  Joy Schaverien has labeled this “Boarding School Syndrome.”

Boarding School Symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Relationship Difficulties
  • Parenting Difficulties
  • Fear of Intimacy
  • Shame and Guilt
  • emotional numbness
  • hyper-vigilence
  • low self esteem and confidence
  • Low levels of self care
  • Workaholism
  • Burn out
  • An inability to relax
  • Isolation
  • Trauma
  • Sexual Problems
  • Fear of Groups.

Attending boarding school is a unique and alternative upbringing that impacts heavily on long-term development. Understanding the nuances of the boarding school experience is important for understanding where many symptoms stem from. Children become self-reliant, cut off their vulnerability from a young age, and asking for help can be one of the hardest things that adult ex-boarders can do.

How Can Therapy help?

Together we will be able to explore and make sense of your experience and feelings. Ex-borders often feel their schooling was a privilege and therefore they may have never allowed any negative feelings about their schooling to surface. They may have developed a suit of protective armor from a young age, to protect their vulnerability and survive. As an adult, this may prevent closer intimacy and connection.

It takes a lot of courage to open up and let someone else see how exhausting it is having to constantly hold it all together all the time. Especially when you have had to manage on your own from such a young age. We can explore what you genuinely want and need from yourself and relationships and learn nourishing ways to support yourself.

I am currently undertaking specialized training in working with adult ex-boarders with Nick Duffell, author of “The Making of Them.”

Below is excerpt from a debate at Edinburgh university on whether Boarding should be banned for under 16s.

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