The first annual conference of CYPPE, Counselling for Young People from Privileged Environments, was held on 27 February 2016 at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.
Delegates were recruited from the most academically successful Independent Schools in England (including International Schools) based on published GCSE, A-Level and IB test results.
The conference attracted a variety of concerned professionals (school counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists, nurses, pastoral care specialists, teachers, house masters, boarding residents and school administrators) who came together to discuss the special challenges which privileged young people face within elite schools.
In essence, the conference focused on three things:
Helping the delegates to connect with each other and to tell their own stories of experiences with privileged young people within a collaborative group of like-minded professionals.
PowerPoint presentations and open discussions with delegates attempted to map the current difficulties which privileged young people have and show relevant research about their psychological symptoms while also exploring the psychological, socio-economic, and cultural factors which may contribute to their growing distress. (What is ‘the problem’?)
‘Brainstorming’ about possible activities or therapeutic interventions which might help both the delegates and privileged young people. (What might be done to solve ‘the problem’?)
You can read a transcript of the discussion segments here.
Session 1 presents the current research on young people from privileged environments and attempts to delineate the social, cultural, economic and historical variables which define them as 'privileged'. The possible consequences of parental and academic pressure during adolescence are discussed along with the need for balance between competition for success and developing and maintaining emotional and relational health.
Session 2 attempts to define aspects of the relationship between economically successful parents and their children and looks at the possible consequences of the use of business values in parenting. The presentation addresses current research on upper-middle and upper-class parents and gives suggestions for further research.
Session 3 looks at the nature of elite schools and outlines some of the challenges these institutions face in 'caring for the whole child'.