Noel Howard, of Social Care Ireland and the editor of CÚRAM, the Irish care magazine, has sent these comments about John Cross and the book Charles Sharpe has written and compiled about John.
The Irish Journal of Applied Social of Applied Social Studies will be a publishing Noel’s full review of the book in a forthcoming issue.
Congratulations on the publication of A Shared Experience. It is hard to believe that you only met John in 2008 because reading the book I get a feeling that somehow, you knew each other for far longer.
I think this book comes at a good time for those who work caring for children because, to use a phrase I’ve used elsewhere, the essence of caring is not about commodification but about relationships. In Ireland at any rate, social care workers are more than ever subjected to the jargon of supposed certainties which benefit no one, least of all, children with difficulties.
I find, in reading your book, that John was the real antidote to what now can tie social care workers up in knots – on the one hand regularly encouraged to use their professional judgement and yet when they do, even with positive results, can find themselves facing a bureaucratic nightmare. There was a time, and this is perhaps another example of my dinosaur status, when one could write in a log book, “Tom had a very good morning”, safe in the knowledge that those you worked with and worked for knew what was meant. Now, on good authority, I believe you must detail how and why Tom had a very good morning. The very core of the ebb and flow of life in residential care is now subject to the latest buzz words, one of which at the moment here is “journey”. Everyone, from the cat to the King has to be on a journey of some sort. But enough of my meanderings and back to the book.
The saddest part for me has to be the boy saying to John on his being withdrawn from New Barns by his local authority, “John, you said I could always live here.”
The most infuriating part was of course the story of the trial which kept bringing Arthur Miller’s line in The Crucible to mind…”You are pulling down heaven and raising up a whore.” Most striking of course is your description of John’s lack of bitterness and resentment and in that I think he was a better man than most. I know, in fact, I’m certain, I would be very far behind him in that attitude. Also, it was lovely to read of Jim Nichol being so impressed by what Eve Foster and Maureen Ward had to say. It struck me that they perhaps were the best inspection service a unit might hope for, somewhat removed but imbibing all that was good around them.
The anecdotes from those who worked with John were, as with most anecdotes about people in this kind of work, quirky and revealing. Of course his innate modesty and true sense of justice were what most come through in the book as well as a thorough delving into what constitutes the therapeutic task.
Interesting you mention that John had no great reliance on theoretical matters and yet there is a very evident theoretical base in his conversations with you and the extracts from his writings. Also, you get across the idea that he was always about with his cup of tea and that can’t be said of many managers now pressurised by all kinds of bureaucratic demands.
Applicable I think to John also and to many who worked with him are those lines from Wordsworth:
That best portion of a good man’s life
His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.
I hope, Charles, that the book gets the readership it richly deserves and well done in bringing John’s life and times to us.
This letter has also been published as a permanent article in the goodenoughcaring Journal.
A Shared Experience John Cross, his life, thoughts and writing by Charles Sharpe, published by Abbeyhill Press Totnes in 2018. Price £7.995
To request a copy of this book email firstname.lastname@example.org
All the proceeds of the sale of this book go to sustaining the John Cross Archive currently maintained by PETT at the Barns Centre, Toddington, Glos.
A Shared Experience John Cross, his life, thoughts and writing by Charles Sharpe is now published.
Following his National Service, John Cross was heading for a career in politics until, in the early 1950s he arrived as a summer volunteer at Bodenham Manor School, a therapeutic community established by David Wills, which educated children who had suffered early deprivation. At once John knew that what was going on at the school was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
In 1965, he with others of kindred spirit founded a therapeutic community where the children and adults lived together. The community flourished until 1992 when the school closed in controversial circumstances and some members of the therapeutic team were put on trial. They were found not guilty but the pain of these events is still felt today.
John Cross knew and conferred with those who were considered pioneers of the therapeutic community movement. He eschewed the role of charismatic leader. He believed in the essential goodness of groups and teams of people. Given what the children, the adults and John achieved in their shared experience, it might be argued that the community of New Barns deserved the accolade “pioneering”.
Throughout his life John enjoyed sustenance and support from his family. He was a Quaker, a psychotherapist and served for many years as a magistrate in the youth justice system. After the closure of New Barns he became the executive of The Planned Environment Therapy Trust at The Barns Centre. John retired in 2011and still spent most of his days helping at the Trust until the his final illness. This book details the story of John’s life and records some of his thinking and his writing.
A Shared Experience John Cross, his life, thoughts and writing : by Charles Sharpe, published by Abbeyhill Press, Totnes; ISBN 978-0-9560438-1-8, 327pp £7.95.
To order a copy of this book or to express an interest in it email
Just over a year ago on July 10th, 2017, John Cross, the former Principal of New Barns School and the one time Executive Director of the Planned Environment Therapy died. To mark his life and his ideas, a new book, A Shared Experience John Cross, his life, thoughts and writings is to be published soon. It has been compiled and written by Charles Sharpe who met with John in conversation on a number of occasions during the last eight years of his life. The book is based upon these conversations.
The exact date of the book’s publication will be announced here within the next few weeks.
To express an interest in this book email email@example.com
Farhad Dalal has sent us news of the next Limbus lecture which will be presented on September 15th, 2018 by Rex Haigh and is entitled Therapeutic Communities: The Radical Edge. The venue is Studio 3 Dartington Hall The cost is £20.
On-line booking for this lecture is now open.
Therapeutic Communities: The Radical Edge
In the 1300s, the village of Geel in Flanders used to welcome ‘mentally afflicted pilgrims’ and supported them to work on the land, saving them from early death as outcasts from society; in the 1790s, William Tuke founded The Retreat in York and started the ‘Moral Treatment’ movement, in which people with mental illness were no longer chained up and kept as animals. In the Second World War, the group therapy experiments with battle-shocked soldiers brought the name ‘therapeutic communities’ into psychiatric practice. All these endeavours challenged the established exercise of power and the traditional nature of relationships.
This paper will explain what therapeutic communities are standing up for and challenging in contemporary times: why they are still at the radical edge of psychiatry and mental health services – and need to be. It will cover themes including the politics of data and evidence; biomedical and pharmaceutical dominance; fluid hierarchies; immersive training experiences; how patient safety can become a health hazard; taking control of quality; and toxic environments.
Rex Haigh studied social sciences as well as medicine as an undergraduate, being particularly interested in critical theories of psychiatry. After working as a GP, he trained as psychiatrist, then as an NHS medical psychotherapist and group analyst – and became a consultant in Berkshire in 1994, where he has been based since. He received a mid-career award from the Health Foundation in 2002, and became Clinical Advisor to the English Personality Disorder Development Programme until it closed in 2011. At the Royal College of Psychiatrists, he was the founder of ‘Community of Communities’ quality network in 2002 and the ‘Enabling Environments’ award in 2008. He was on the NICE guideline development group for Borderline Personality Disorder, and is involved with several third sector organisations in the Personality Disorder field. His particular clinical interests are modified therapeutic communities, ecotherapy, critical psychiatry, and service user partnership. The social enterprise he chairs, ‘Growing Better Lives’ won the 2014 sustainability award from the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He was appointed as Honorary Professor of Therapeutic Environments and Relational Health at Nottingham University’s School of Sociology and Social Policy in 2015.
“Every life and every childhood is filled with frustrations; we cannot imagine it otherwise, for even the best mother cannot satisfy all her child’s wishes and needs. It is not the suffering caused by frustration, however, that leads to emotional illness but rather the fact that the child is forbidden by the parents to experience and articulate this suffering, the pain felt at being wounded; usually the purpose of this prohibition is to protect the parents’ defence mechanisms. Adults are free to hurl reproaches at God, at fate, at the authorities, or at society if they are deceived, ignored, punished unjustly, confronted with excessive demands or lied to. Children are not allowed to reproach their gods – their parents and teachers. By no means are they allowed express their frustrations. Instead, they must repress or deny their emotional reactions which build up inside until adulthood, when they are finally discharged, but not on the object which caused them. The forms this discharge may take range from persecuting their own children by the way they bring them up, to all possible degrees of mental illness, to addiction, criminality, and suicide.”*
Alice Miller wrote the above in 1980. Her interpretation of childhood may have been open to question even when she wrote these words, but would they hold true now ? Are children allowed to be their true selves? Certainly some would argue that the nature of parenting and teaching nowadays has become even more prescriptive, giving less space for children to express themselves freely.
*The text quoted is an extracted from page 254 of Alice Miller’s book For Your Own Good Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearingThe Roots of Violence published in 1980 by Virago Press, London.
Farhad Dalal informs us that the next Limbus lecture will be on Saturday, June 9th from 10.30am to 1pm at Studio 3, Dartington Hall.
The Lecture, A Fair Chance in Life: Helping Children Flourish will be given by Sue Gerhardt, the author of the deservedly praised, ( in my view, [ed] ), and influential book Why Love Matters : how affection shapes a baby’s brain published in 2004 by Brunner – Routledge.
The Sanville Institute for Clinical Social Work & Psychotherapy & the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work (AASPCW) celebrate the centenary of the birth of Selma Fraiberg with a conference on Saturday March 24th, at San Francisco State University Seven Hills Conference Center 1600 Holloway Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94132
The conference awards 6 CE credits for LCSWs, MFTs & Psychologists.
REGISTER at www.sanville.edu/selma
Discounts for Sanville community members, AAPCSW members, new professionals, and students. Lunch included.
Selma Fraiberg’s integration of social work and psychoanalysis had a profound impact on infant mental health, child development, psychoanalysis and the larger community. Beginning with group work with disadvantaged children and an unconventional psychoanalytic training, Fraiberg’s interventions with blind children, her groundbreaking innovations in infant mental health and her proli c writings — including her classic works, The Magic Years and Ghosts in the Nursery– have left a lasting legacy.
The Magic Years of Selma Fraiberg: Clinician, Researcher, Writer
The Sanville Institute, AAPCSW, and Lisa Fraiberg
9:15am-10:30am: Selma Fraiberg, Her Life and Work Joel Kanter, MSW, LCSW-C
Based on archival research and interviews with a diverse array of colleagues, trainees and relatives, this presentation will review Fraiberg’s professional training in social work and psychoanalysis, her early clinical work with children’s groups, her emerging psychoanalytic expertise,
her diverse literary contributions and her important clinical research on blind infants and at-risk infant-mother dyads. The lasting impact of her contributions will be summarized.
10:30am-10:50am: Coffee Break
10:50am-12:00pm: Ghosts and Angels in the Nursery:
The Lasting Impact of Selma Fraiberg’s Legacy
Alicia F. Lieberman, PhD
Selma Fraiberg taught us to create a holding environment where the clinician enables parents and baby to feel safe to experience the full
range of their emotions, to explore how the past is coloring the present, and to build enjoyable new ways of relating to each other. Her most in uential contribution involved the understanding of the intergenerational transmission of psychopathology from the parents’ childhood fear and pain to their attributions to their baby in the here and now. This talk will highlight her continued in uence and the new applications of her thinking in current infant mental health practice
1:15pm-2:10pm: Selma Would Never Have Called It Mindfulness, But That’s Exactly What She Showed Us
Michael Trout, MA
Is infant mental health a strategy, or a way of being with? This keynote
will consider the origins of our eld, which was originally fueled by a deep scienti c and psychoanalytic curiosity about the nuances of infant-parent interaction, the meaning of early experience, the remarkable transferences between parental early experience and relating to the child in the present. What is most important to us, now? What would Selma say? She taught us mindfulness without ever using the then-unknown word. She taught us the bliss of modesty and not-knowing, of attunement, of following, of holding. She required the discipline of self-knowing, and resulting self-regulation.
2:10pm-3:00pm: Re ections on The Magic Years by Clinician-Mothers Today
Elizabeth (Beth) Kita, PhD, LCSW Rebecca Mayahag, MSW, LCSW-C Christina Papanestor, LCSW, BCD
Three clinicians who are also mothers of young children will re ect on their reading of Fraiberg’s classic The Magic Years as it impacts their current parenting experiences.
3:00pm-3:20pm: Coffee Break
3:20pm-4:10pm: Selma and Me:
Master Teacher and Trauma-obsessed Trainee
Lenore Terr, MD
From 1964 to 1966, Terr attended Fraiberg’s Continuous Case Conference on child treatment at the University of Michigan Children’s Psychiatric Hospital as well as presentations on Fraiberg’s research on blind babies. She will share her recollections about these interactions, discussing how she absorbed Fraiberg’s ideas and methods as she pursued her research on childhood trauma.
4:10pm-5:00pm: Video of Selma Fraiberg and concluding panel with Lisa Fraiberg and presenters
5:00pm-5:30pm: Wine and Cheese Reception
Joel Kanter, MSW, LCSW-C: Faculty, Institute for Clinical Social Work; Distinguished Practitioner, National Academies of Practice; Author, Face to Face with Children: The Life and Legacy of Clare Winnicott.
Elizabeth (Beth) Kita, PhD, LCSW is a clinical social worker in San Francisco, California. She completed her MSW at UC Berkeley and her
PhD at Smith College School for Social Work. Beth has worked within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for the past 15 years providing mental health treatment both in prison and on parole. Beth also has a private practice in Hayes Valley, teaches in the MSW program at UC Berkeley, and is Chairperson of the Coalition for Clinical Social Work.
Alicia F. Lieberman, PhD, is the Irving B. Harris Endowed Chair in Infant Mental Health; Professor and Vice Chair for Faculty Development at the University of California, San Francisco, Department of Psychiatry; Director of the Child Trauma Research Program at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
Rebecca Mayahag, MSW, LCSW-C is in private practice in Rockville, Maryland. She received her MSW from the University of Maryland
and is a graduate of the Modern Perspectives in Psychotherapy at the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis. She currently serves on the board of the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Social Work.
Christina Papanestor, LCSW, BCD received her MSW from the Smith College School for Social Work, and was awarded post-graduate fellowships by Stanford University and the American Psychoanalytic Association. She completed advanced training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, and maintains a private practice in San Francisco where she works with adults and couples.
Lenore Terr, MD: Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, Winner of the Ittleson, McGavin, and Marmor Awards, American Psychiatric Association; Author of Too Scared to Cry, Unchained Memories, and Magical Moments of Change: How Psychotherapy Turns Kids Around.
Michael Trout, MA: Director, Infant-Parent Institute; Founding President of the International Association for Infant Mental Health.
THE SANVILLE INSTITUTE FOR CLINICAL SOCIAL WORK & PSYCHOTHERAPY www.sanville.edu firstname.lastname@example.org 510-848-8420
Of ce: 2198 Sixth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
CPA Accredited: The Sanville Institute (CPA PAS SAN 150) is approved by the California Psychological Association (CPA) to provide continuing professional education for psychologists. The Sanville Institute is an entity recognized by the Board of Behavioral Sciences as a provider of continuing education for LCSWs, MFTs, and LPCCs (pursuant to Division 18, Title 16, Section 1887.4.3, of the California Code of Regulations). The Sanville Institute maintains responsibility for this program and its contents.
CEUs will also be provided by the AAPCSW, a national social work organization whose CEUs are recognized by the Boards of Social Work in many states.
The first two parts of Joel Kanter’s series of articles about Selma Fraiberg are now available to read in the goodenoughcaring Journal.
In his introduction Joel Kanter writes of Selma Fraiberg:
Selma Fraiberg was a social worker, a psychoanalyst, an author and a pioneer in the field of infant health. She devoted her career to understanding the developmental needs of children, to creating programs that promote infant mental health, and to reaching parents and policymakers through her clear, persuasive prose. In her brief 63 years, she accomplished enough to fill three careers.
The first article Fraiberg Remembered Part One The Magic Years can be found at Fraiberg Remembered Part One The Magic Years
The second Selma Fraiberg’s Magic Years Part Two “An unconventional Analytic training” can be read at Fraiberg’s Magic Years Part Two An Unconventional Training
John Cross, for over 60 years an influential figure in the field of planned environment therapy in therapeutic communities for children has died aged 85 at his home in Cheltenham. He retired from his role as Director of the Planned Environment Therapy Trust in 2012. Until the onset of his illness in the autumn of 2015, John continued to be involved in the daily life of PETT at Toddington in Gloucestershire.
In 1952, his early ambition to take up a place at Durham University and to become a politician faded on the completion of his National Service when the direction of his life was altered by a summer placement at Bodenham Manor School where David Wills was the Warden. John decided that what was going on at the school felt right and that shared experience in a therapeutic community would provide the pathway for his life. In the following decades John was engaged in the community life of Bodenham Manor School, Herefordshire, Ashley House Remand Home, Worksop, New Heys Reception Centre, Liverpool and New Barns School, Toddington.
At the same time as he was engaged as a member of the group of children and adults at New Barns John became a psychotherapist, served as a magistrate in the Juvenile Justice System, was the Chairman of the Youth and Family Courts and Vice Chairman of the Gloucestershire Probation Committee.
John maintained his relationships with those who had been with him and his colleagues at New Barns. Over the years he became a ‘best man’ at their weddings and a godparent at the christening of their children many times over.
John played an influential role in a number of other organisations. He was a founding member of the Association of Workers with Maladjusted Children (AWMC) which later became the Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties Association (SEBDA) and for over 40 years served on its Council. Prior to his death was John was the only living founding member of PETT. He was a founding member of other groups too including the Charterhouse Group, Young Minds and the Child Care History Network.
Over his career John wrote and presented a number of influential papers about therapeutic communities and planned environment therapy and he co-authored the controversial 1979 Quaker publication Six Quakers Look at Crime and Punishment: A Study Paper.
John was a Quaker. He was a man modest about his achievements. For him achievement was the shared experience of a community. John is survived by his two sisters Sybil and Cynthia. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by so many of the people with whom he shared experience and a community life.
Here is the text of an interview with John from 2010 and this is the article he wrote for the goodenoughcaring Journal in 2012, Some tentative thoughts on the concept of planned environment therapy is at http://www.goodenoughcaring.com/the-journal/some-tentative-thoughts-on-the-concept-of-planned-environment-therapy/