Leaders in Conversation with Anni Townend

Anni Townend in Conversation with Thurstine Basset, Author on Boarding School Survival

May 05, 2021 Anni Townend Episode 19
Leaders in Conversation with Anni Townend
Anni Townend in Conversation with Thurstine Basset, Author on Boarding School Survival
Show Notes

The trauma, abandonment and privilege of boarding school with Thurstine Basset

“We have had to overcome that sense that if you complain, you're just a privileged whinger, and that nobody wants to hear from privileged whingers,” Thurstine Basset

For the latest episode of the Leaders in Conversation Podcast with Anni Townend, Anni talks to Thurstine Basset, a boarding school survivor, author and mental health champion. 

Thurstine has co-authored a number of books on mental health including most recently Trauma, Abandonment and Privilege: A guide to therapeutic work with boarding school survivors with Nick Duffell.

Born into an army family, Thurstine was sent to prep school from just eight years old, but despite always knowing he had a less than happy experience there, it wasn’t until some 20 years later that he really began to explore the personal impact.  Persuaded by his psychotherapist wife, he attended a workshop for boarding school survivors, which started a long journey of realisation, discovery and wanting to help others.

A shared experience of abandonment

Anni, who contributed to the book Trauma, Abandonment and Privilege, also shares her experience of being sent to the Mount for Girls boarding school in York - something she has rarely spoken about. She reveals a sense of abandonment and having to step over the “threshold” into boarding life. Like Thurstine, a feeling of privilege has prevented more open reflection on the experience. She also talks about “growing up fast” at a time when childhood should be cherished.

Boarding school syndrome: A growing topic for psychotherapy

Boarding school syndrome has become an increasingly prevalent topic for psychotherapy and therapists.

“Although the schools themselves have become less brutal and more child friendly, actually referrals for therapy have gone up,” explains Thurstine. “The separation and the breaking of attachment is still there, and children are still feeling it and still having to survive it. And later on in adult life they're coming for help.” 

For those who have been through the boarding school system and may be struggling currently, Thurstine recommends opening the dialogue with friends and family. “I think the boarding school survivor, naturally wants to stay back from it, but when I went towards it, I found great relief and in a way, a new life opened up for me,” he explains.

Listen to the full episode to discover;

  • Survival and resilience in children
  • Overcoming trauma and abandonment
  • The burden of privilege and feeling silenced, unheard or judged
  • Dealing with shame and self-worth
  • The importance of open conversations around boarding but 
  • Why it is difficult to get true feedback from  minority groups boarders often conditioned to prize their education above all else
  • Why according to Thurstine, boarding school is not suitable for young children 

Discover more
For those looking for further information or support on the topic of boarding school, Thurstine recommends:

Trauma Abandonment and Privilege is available on Amazon.

Connect with Thurstine
You can connect with Thurstine on LinkedIn