As a therapist who sees people who have been to boarding school it really helped me to see some of the subtle difficulties in working with these clients - the stronghold that the Strategic Survival Personality has become, the difficulty in admitting vulnerability of any kind.
This is a must-read for any and every therapist who has worked, is working or may work with clients in connection with Boarding School – which is almost inevitable, even if unaware of the connection. But the style, approach and content reaches far beyond this readership – anyone who has any experience of and/or interest in the phenomenon of Boarding as a practice dating back over centuries and still ‘alive and kicking’ today, will find this a compelling read.
The layout, in clear sections and headings, makes for accessible reading. Which is important since much of the material may be emotive for many readers, therapists, their clients and others.
Below are some examples of content: p 21: how the strength of attachment to the ‘Strategic Survival Personality’, and the reluctance to let go affects the therapy as well as familial relationship.
p 37: highly relevant references to the psychiatrist Rivers, well portrayed in Pat Barker’s ‘Regeneration’ trilogy. p 38-40: reference to ‘amputation’ of feelings and how the void is filled by each child p 40: how all relationships can be strategic p 51: how it’s easier for the therapist to be with a client’s vulnerable side than darker side p 63: how clients come to therapy to look at everything-but-boarding issues and how vital it is for the therapist to keep boarding in awareness, Later chapters on i trauma and ii sexual abuse, are clear, scientific and without technical jargon. p 153: reference to Roberto Assagioli’s work in recognising the ‘will not to change’ p 186: how therapists need persistence and resilience And, to enrich the text are numerous contributions from many sources.
As a boarding school survivor, not a therapist, I found so much of this revealing, helpful, strategising and telling. In myself and others. Especially the three types: Crushed, Conforming and Rebel. I was the latter. The icicles at one's heart take a lot of shifting, and melt very slowly.