Boarding School Survivors Therapy for Ex-boarders
When Boarding School Syndrome symptoms surface, one-to-one therapy or group therapy with Marcus can help
Boarding School Survivors Syndrome is recognised by therapists as a very real psychological issue.
The costly form of education, particularly highly prized in the UK, that’s known as residential boarding – which is marketed and ‘sold’ to ex-boarders and to their parents as a ‘privilege’ – is in fact a poor recipe for a child’s emotional development and, therefore, often a disastrous preparation for the adult world.
Boarding School Syndrome and Relationships
Boarding schools, by substituting an institution for parents and family, seem often not to produce self-aware, self-connected adults who are at ease with themselves and able to form healthy, intimate relationships. Therapy’s goal is to address these difficulties and help you overcome them… Read more about Boarding School Syndrome and problems forming or maintaining relationships in adult life.
Boarding School Survivors Syndrome and Bullying
Therapy for ex-boarders who were bullied or abused at boarding school helps you come to terms with very difficult experiences that may up to now have affected and informed your life in all sorts of damaging ways. Boarding school is a 24/7 immersive experience with nowhere to hide or to run, and bullying at boarding school was remorseless and inescapable. If you were being bullied or abused, there was no let-up in the evenings, there was no safe refuge, and there were no parents around to protect you or to calm and reassure you, let alone to bring a complaint… Read more about Boarding School Syndrome and the effects in adult life of having been bullied or the bully.
Boarding School Survivors Syndrome and Depression
It should not be a surprise that adults who, when they were children, were exiled from family life and brought up for 9 months of each year within an institution which took the place of their parents, exhibit symptoms of abandonment and trauma. Characteristically, male ex-boarders learned not to trust their feelings and especially their vulnerability. Female boarding school survivors became alienated from their very bodies at boarding school, and suffered profound though often barely visible wounds to their personal, feminine identity. People who were sent away to boarding school often show effects resembling people who have suffered the most deprived and neglected childhoods… Read more about Boarding School Survivors and problems with depression, anxiety and self-confidence in adult life.
Boarding School Survivors’ Symptoms
Do you recognise any of these signs and symptoms of Boarding School Syndrome in yourself (by no means a complete list)?
- Does emotional intimacy make you anxious, or even seem impossible for you?
- Have you lived most of your life in institutions of one type or another?
- Do you function well at the social or financial level but very poorly on an emotional plane?
- Do you have a difficult relationship with authority?
- Are you unable to relax?
- Do you often not know what you need or want?
- Do you feel alone, even when surrounded by people?
- Are there troubling gaps in your memory?
- Are you terrified of failure?
- Do you avoid your partner, in subtle or not so subtle ways?
- Do you fear you are unlovable?
- Do you bury yourself in work?
- Have you struggled with addictions?
- Do you have a pattern of not committing to relationships, or of wavering between alternate partners?
- Do you avoid open and honest conflict, preferring secret or covert rebellion?
- Do people react to you as if you’re a bully?
- Do you see yourself always taking care of others?
- Do you struggle with being a parent?
- Is your top priority keeping out of trouble, and the worst terror getting ‘caught’?
- Do you fear exposure as a fraud or impostor?
- Do you suffer sleep disorders, sexual problems or other chronic, stress-related challenges?
Healing and recovery in Boarding School Survivors Therapy: becoming your true self
Whatever has brought you to consider therapy, there will probably be ways in which you are not functioning well, perhaps in relationships or in how you take care of yourself on a practical, daily level. Therapy gently supports, holds and contains you while you experience the feelings you may have been guarding, often rage and grief. In time, you will be freed up to live your life in a way that is true for you and not adapted to the survival needs of the boarding school child that you were.
The first step in Boarding School Survivors Therapy is to recognise the effects of what you learned as a child in the pressured, hot-house atmosphere of boarding school. This involves acknowledgement and often a somewhat painful acceptance of the strategies you used to survive as a boarder and which will have long since become second nature to you.
Boarding School Survivors Therapy then moves on to the task of how to re-learn ways of living a normal, rewarding life outside of institutions. The goal is to become an adult in ‘right relationship’ with himself or herself, equipped with the empathy, openness and boundaries necessary to enjoy fulfilling and truly intimate adult relationships. Ultimately the aim is to be able to be authentically happy being the person that you come home to each day.
Boarding School Survivors Therapy for Ex-boarders with Marcus
Take the first step and contact Marcus to discuss therapy for Boarding School Survivors.
Where to learn more about Boarding School Survivors Syndrome
Boarding School Survivors – Support
The informative website of an organisation that offers support, a newsletter, an annual conference and dedicated, intelligent opposition to the boarding school industry’s practice of educating children in residential institutions and forcing these children to adapt. This is an unnatural form of institutional life rooted in a discredited, abusive past. www.bss-support.org.uk
The Making of Them
Ground-breaking BBC2 documentary filmed in 1993 about 8 or 9 year old boys starting boarding.
Boarding School Survivors Therapy Workshops
A programme of safe but challenging groupwork, designed especially for ex-boarders, that has run for over 25 years and helped hundreds of survivors.
Article by Colin Mackenzie
Colin Mackenzie’s memories of the abuse that went on at his prep school.
Article by Charlotte Beale
Reflections of a Survivor, by Thurstine Bassett (PDF file)