Debbie Petherick Integrative Counsellor
Counselling Services


Boarding School and Separation in Childhood

The reality of the impact of being separated from family, friends and home as a result of being sent away to boarding school at an early age has, in the main, been previously overlooked.  However, the cost of creating a persona to hide vulnerability in order to survive amongst peers in an institution from a young age has been further highlighted through the works of Nick Duffell and Joy Schaverien.

In 2011, I trained with Nick Duffell (author of The Making of Them) and Prof Joy Schaverien (author of Boarding School Syndrome, the psychological trauma of the ‘privileged’ child).  This training specifically helped facilitate my work with ex boarders and their partners.

My work is informed by professional study and practice, my own therapeutic practice and in the case of ex-boarders my personal experience of boarding school.

What is Boarding School Syndrome?

During his work with ex-boarders from the 1990s, Nick Duffell found that there were common traits that these clients were presenting, as a result of being ‘boarding school survivors’. Joy Schaverien expanded on this in her book Boarding School Syndrome where she explores the trauma of the ‘privileged’ child. 

The consequences of adapting to the institution of Boarding School can linger long into adulthood. Some common traits include:

  • Do you have difficulty sustaining relationships? Do you avoid intimacy but long for it at the same time?
  • Are you lost for words and/or unable to express emotions?
  • Do you hoard food, money, or belongings?
  • Are you a ‘workaholic’?
  • Do you avoid, prolong, or rush goodbyes?
  • Does life beyond your comfort-zone feel daunting?

If you or your partner ‘survived’ boarding school you may benefit from counselling.  For more information please contact me or visit Boarding School Concern website

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