A capacity audience gathered together at the Friends Meeting House on 17th November to welcome back Paul Sunderland, a very popular speaker for TAP members and guests.
Paul treated us to some thought provoking insights into ‘Boarding School Syndrome and Recovery – When Privilege is Trauma for the Early Boarder.'
Paul originally trained as an addictions counsellor, moving to senior positions in residential treatment settings and then into private practice.
As the evening’s talk progressed it became apparent that there was a theme running that also ran through a Saturday workshop that Paul put on for TAP in October. The theme was one of ‘self-soothing’ behaviours which may bring survivors into therapy.
For the young child the moment of leaving home for boarding school is the beginning of an episode of adaption. There may be tension between the idea of privilege – ‘aren’t you lucky’ and the reality of life in ‘captivity’ with no care giver present and little privacy. Being unhappy and not feeling fortunate are a good mix to promote feelings of shame in the child. Guilt and shame make up some of the foundation for self-soothing (addictive?) behaviours to take hold as the child finds an often arid environment in which to share feelings.
Boarders and adoptees are over-represented in treatment and recovery services. Do we recognise PTSD in early boarders?
Neuroscience tells us that early experiences shape the brain. Experience is the architect of the brain. If the 7 year old learns to keep themselves to themselves, the pattern will stick.
Boarding schools began around 500 years ago preparation for empire. Graduates would be less likely to miss home.
There exists an ambiguity; socially we may consider it a tragedy when a child is taken into care, but not into boarding school.
A grateful vote of thanks and applause brought the talk to a close, but not the evening. The discussion continued over fresh coffee, various teas and some very lovely biscuits.
The next talk will be on 8th December, alongside a Christmas social event to which everyone is invited! £5 on the door, free to TAP members. Hear Suzie Grogan (a sell-out at the recent Taunton Literary Festival) give a 30 minute talk about Death Disease & Dissection – a Horrible History of medicine for grown-ups.
Smoke Without Fire: The Challenges of Identifying and Working With Parental Alienation - a TAP Talk by Dr Sue Witcombe
Braving the first real chilly evening of the season on 18 November, a large number of TAP members and guests attended a presentation by Dr Sue Whitcombe entitled `Smoke Without Fire: The Challenges of Identifying and Working With Parental Alienation`. Sue is a Chartered Psychologist registered with the Health & Care Professions Council and principal psychologist at Family Psychology Solutions, which offers specialist services for families and children. Sue also teaches at Teesside University.
Sue was introduced by TAP Council member Andrew Wilcox, who surprised the meeting with the amazing fact that this was the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Talk in the history of TAP, adding the exciting news that TAP’s Conference will be held in the Spring on 18 March 2017.
The meeting heard that Parental Alienation is defined as an unjustified rejection of a parent, where there was previously a normal loving relationship or an intentional or unintentional action by a parent to turn a child against a non-resident parent. It was explained that over time the child becomes hostile and abusive in a campaign of denigration, which can include physically resisting contact and rebuffing phone calls, letters, emails and gifts. These actions are usually accompanied with expressions of hatred which often cumulate in the rejection of the non-resident parent.
Outlining what help is available in cases of Parental Alienation, Sue spoke of the Interventions which can be employed in the form of Therapeutic modalities and strategies. These can include Family systems approach, Structural and strategic family therapy, Brief solution focused therapy, Narrative therapy, CBT, Parent-child interactive therapy and Psychoeducation.
Sue's presentation can be viewed by clicking on the link HERE and further information can be downloaded HERE. A list of useful resources can be downloaded HERE.
Following the vote of thanks, tea and coffee was served, which gave the audience an opportunity to talk over Dr Whitcombe’s excellent presentation and catch up with old friends and colleagues.
The next talk is on January 20th 2017 when Dr Damian McCann presents `Exploring the dilemmas of disclosure in 'coming out' in family and couple relationships and in therapy`. This talk will examine developments in thinking about ‘coming out’ with particular reference to gender and sexual diversities. All are very welcome.