1st Edition

Trauma, Abandonment and Privilege A guide to therapeutic work with boarding school survivors

By Nick Duffell, Thurstine Basset Copyright 2016
    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    Trauma, Abandonment and Privilege discusses how ex-boarders can be amongst the most challenging clients for therapists; even experienced therapists may unwittingly struggle to skilfully address the needs of this client group. It looks at the effect on adults of being sent away to board in childhood and the problems associated with boarding, which have only recently been acknowledged by mainstream mental health professionals.

    This practice-based book is illustrated by case studies, diagrams and exercises and is divided into three parts: ‘Recognition; Acceptance; Change’. It aims to help readers understand the emotional processes of boarding and the psychological aspects of survival, outlining the steps toward recovery and the repercussions of survival. The book also explores how ex-boarders frequently struggle with intimate relationships with spouses and partners and offers interventions and strategies for those working with ex-boarder clients.

    Trauma, Abandonment and Privilege will be of interest to therapists, counsellors and mental health workers across the UK. It will also be relevant to those who are well acquainted with boarding schools based on the UK model, for example in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India.

    Foreword  Part 1 Recognition  Chapter 1 Introduction  Chapter 2 What Therapists Can Do: an overview  Chapter 3 Managing Separation and Loss  Chapter 4 Survival  Chapter 5 Signs, Symptoms and Relationship Issues   Part 2 Acceptance  Chapter 6 Remembering  Chapter 7 Adapting  Chapter 8 Trauma  Chapter 9 Sex: Puberty, Gender, and Abuse  Part 3 Change  Chapter 10 The Healing Process  Chapter 11 Unmasking Survival Patterns  Chapter 12 Homecoming  Postscript Boarding in the 21st Century  Appendix Useful Organisations


    Nick Duffell is a psychotherapist and trainer in private practice who pioneered therapeutic work with ex-boarders and specialist training for psychotherapists. He is the author of The Making of Them: The British attitude to children and the boarding school system and Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and the Entitlement Illusion - a psychohistory.

    Thurstine Basset worked as a social worker, mostly in the mental health field, before entering the world of training and education in the 1980s. He has subsequently written and produced a variety of training packages, articles, book chapters and books in the mental health field. Early in the 21st Century, he attended a Boarding School Survivors Workshop and was a director of Boarding Concern, an organisation that supports boarding school survivors. 

    "This book alerts psychotherapists to the hidden emotional trauma of boarding school. Case histories show how deceptive appearances can be. Many boarding children grow up with chronic anxiety, despite leading busy, conscientious, adult lives; they struggle with close relationships having learnt to dissociate and to project disowned feelings onto others. A helpful addition to a growing literature on this peculiar aspect of British life." – Sue Gerhardt, author of Why Love Matters and The Selfish Society

    "British independent boarding schools are frequently seen as the envy of the world. This provocative book – based on twenty-five years of therapeutic practice – suggests that far from being models of excellence, they are the source of psychological distress which mars the lives even of those who appear to be their most successful products. Passionate engagement, exceptional clinical experience and case studies which portray the anguish of the human soul make this an impressive book which should be required reading for therapists, educationists and politicians. It may also prove a life-saver for many boarding school ‘survivors’." - Brian Thorne, Emeritus Professor of Counselling, University of East Anglia, Co-founder, the Norwich Centre for Personal, Professional and Spiritual Development

    "Informed by a wealth of experience Bassett and Duffell have created a valuable and timely resource for therapists and counsellors.Vivid examples from workshops and testimony from boarding school survivors build a convincing picture of the ‘strategic survival personality’. Informed by theory the book is accessible and practical; it offers suggestions on technique, including exercises and questions for practitioners. It will equip the professional reader to identify and work with this client group and offers significant insights for ex-boarders. This is an excellent and lively contribution to the growing literature in this field." - Professor Joy Schaverien PhD, Jungian Psychoanalyst and author of Boarding School Syndrome: The Psychological Trauma of the Privileged Child

    "Basset and Duffell have written a helpful, lucid and controversial book that sets out the fruits of 30 years work with this newly recognised and challenging client group. Using real life case studies they show how a, so-called, ‘privileged' education, based in a style of 'attachment breaking institutionalisation with its roots in Victorian hyper- masculinity', has a cost for individuals and society as a whole. The case studies show how painstaking psychotherapy can offer a route to helping these clients reclaim their humanity. This is a follow up to nick's groundbreaking 'The Making of Them' - which stripped the veil from the culturally acceptable face ofpublic school education." - Adam Jukes

    "Trauma, Abandonment and Privilege is a must-read for any and every therapist who has worked, is working or may work with clients in connection with boarding school, in whatever capacity... Anyone who has any experience of and/or interest in the phenomenon of boarding as a practice dating back over centuries, which remains ‘alive and kicking’ today, will find this a compelling read... A powerful book – much needed and not to be overlooked: by therapists, clients and the wider world." - Jane Barclay, Psychotherapist

    "While boarding schools are far less harsh environments compared with 50 Uears ago, 'the trauma of separation and loss of familg is still the same. Attachments are still deliberatelg broken'. So, while attending boarding school mag be less of a'Big T'trauma, it still constitutes a'tittle t' trauma.l Consequentlg, the impact of boarding school remains an issue for the boarders of todag and the ex-boarders of tomorrow, (sadlg) confirming this book's importance both now and for gears to come." - Helen Corderg

    "The book offers case histories, diagrams and exercises and is divided into three parts (recognition, acceptance and change), covering the emotional processes of boarding and the psychological aspects of survival; steps towards recovery and repercussions of survival. It also explores how ex-boarders frequently struggle with intimate relationships and offers interventions and strategies for those working with exboarder clients." - Human Givens Journal

    "This will prove a valuable resource for therapists working with adults who have experienced the boarding school system and who are seeking therapy to address concerns in later life. It may also be useful for other mental health workers – having been to boarding school may not present as the primary issue but may emerge as a contributing factor during therapeutic work. Recognition work is identified as the first stage in helping adults who have been adversely affected by this type of education and this book helps therapists to identify this. It gives them some tools to work with and some timely warnings of what to expect in terms of transference." - Alison Blank