The psychological impact of boarding school

According to a report which is to be published in next month’s British Journal of Psychotherapy, boarding school can leave adults struggling to form intimate relationships and communicate difficult emotions, reports the Independent.

Professor Joy Schaverien believes that children sent to boarding school can experience psychological damage not dissimilar to that of those taken into care. Despite the obvious trauma for children of the forced separation from family and friends, many therapists do not see this as a significant factor in their patients issues because boarding school education is seen as a privilege.

However, no matter how beautiful the surroundings, how fantastic the education and no matter what cost parents are paying per term, some children who are left in the care of adults who do not love them find the experience traumatising.

Nowadays boarding schools have improved dramatically after the introduction of inspections 10 years ago. Hilary Moriarty, director of the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) believes that boarding school is actually best for some children.

”I don’t think you would find a single unhappy boarder now because children wouldn’t stay and parents would not keep them there,” she said.

However, boarders of the past may have suffered, emotional or sexual abuse from other children or staff members with no one to confide in.

44 year old psychotherapist James Taylor, suffered physical and sexual abuse at boarding school when he was just 10, and commented to the Independent that as a result he had no trust in authority for many years.

“Children need to grow among people who love them… Things have improved but children are still exposed to regimented lifestyles, loneliness and separation. They often turn into very successful adults – look at the current Cabinet – but they can suffer from a poverty of emotion which deserves attention…” Said Professor Schaverien.

Each boarder will have a unique experience of school and whilst some may enjoy and thrive in a boarding school environment, others will struggle with being away from their loved ones. If you have had a negative experience of boarding school then you may find talking to a counsellor in confidence would be of benefit.

To contact a qualified counsellor in your local area please use the search tool located on the homepage.

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Written by Emma Hilton

Written by Emma Hilton

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