boarding school survivors

working with ex-boarders

Children who attend boarding school often leave with outwardly impressive levels of achievement, resiliance and independence - but at what cost? 


Leaving home at an early age - often as young as seven or eight - ruptures the attachment with parents or caregivers, and leaves the child to be raised in an institution without love. In order to survive this, children develop a strategic survival personality, which requires them to shut down their emotions and become little adults, unable to display - and on some level, even feel - the normal healthy emotions of childhood and adolecense.


This offers protection against homesickness and of painfully experiencing the abandonment wound whilst at school, but can have deep and lasting effects in later life, particularly around forging close, intimate relationships.

"The true character of society is revealed in how it treats its children"

-Nelson Mandela

I decided to start working with ex-boarders because so often the trauma they have experienced goes unacknowledged, in many cases, even by the ex-boarder themselves.


As an attachment informed practioner,  I believe that raising children in institutions without love can cause untold and unexamined pain. The emotional life for the adult ex-boarder can be confoundingly difficult to navigate. Boarding School Syndrome, a term coined by Joy Schaverien, a leading voice in the field, can help to explain why. 


Revisiting Boarding School Syndrome: Girls and their Bodies - with Joy Schaverien (2022)



Trauma, Privilege and Abandonment: Boarding School Syndrome - with Nick Duffell (2023)

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