In this issue

Features

Old school ties
Why is our nation so resistant to acknowledging the emotional and psychological problems associated with the uniquely British habit of sending young children away to school?

Lost for words
The boarding school experience can for some be a particular form of psychological trauma. Those who present for psychotherapy often have lasting problems with communication and intimate relationships.

Miscarriages of justice
The effects of being incarcerated for years for a crime you did not commit are almost unimaginable. What is the best way to work with those who have suffered this profound trauma?

Feedback styles
Feedback styles in supervision and the effect they have on one’s development can vary enormously. How can you figure out what kind of supervisory style works for you?

Regulars

In practice
Kevin Chandler: This much we hold

In the client’s chair
Orla Murray: Feeling unreachable

In training
Alex Erskine: Standing alone

Questionnaire
Carol Martin-Sperry

From the chair
Dr Lynne Gabriel: ‘Right touch’ regulation

Dilemmas
The social network

Fiction
The Wednesday Group

Day in the life
Eugene Ellis

Last word
Andrew Reeves

Cover of Therapy Today, April 2011

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Editorial

I have several close relatives who were sent away to boarding school at a young age and at least two of them felt significantly damaged by it. Their patterns seem to fit with some of the observations about ex-boarders who present as clients in psychotherapy made by two therapists in this issue. 

For Joy Schaverien 20 years of working with clients who attended boarding school have convinced her that there are clear patterns around attachment and intimacy in many adults with a history of early boarding. Nick Duffell, himself an ex-boarder, has run workshops for ‘Boarding School Survivors’ since the early 1990s and asks why the problems associated with boarding are so very hard to talk about.

I have tried to imagine sending my own children away to school and how hard that would be. I remember how upset I sometimes felt even leaving them at primary school when they first started in reception and how torn I felt going off to conferences for several days at a time. It would have felt unnatural not to have them with me at a young age.

As they have become challenging teenagers, I have wondered about the merits of boarding school, not that this would ever have been a realistic option. Friends who boarded as children sometimes strike me as having desirable qualities and skills such as independence, self-containment and tidiness! I have a friend who feels that her boarding school experience was in many ways ‘the making of her’, partly because it limited her exposure to her highly dysfunctional family. She says that she was happy at boarding school because she had good friends – friends who still play a noticeably more important role in her life than family – and was able to fit in. In this respect, she argues, boarding school is the same as any school: those who suffered were the odd ones out who got badly picked on and bullied and of course had no respite.

Sarah Browne
Editor