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Persian Courtesy and the Violent Child

  • 3 May 2007
  • The Churchill, Hyatt Regency London 30 Portman Square London W1A 4ZX

Persian Courtesy and the Violent Child: 

Camila Batmanghelidjh is a psychotherapist and founder and leader of Kids Company, a charity in Peckham, south London, England devoted to deprived and often severely disturbed children.

She studied theatre and dramatic arts at Warwick University. Then she did a Master's degree on the philosophy of counselling and psychotherapy, two years of child observation at the Tavistock Clinic in north London and a course in art therapy at Goldsmiths College, in south-east London. For four years, she trained in psychotherapy. She also worked with children as a nanny, and discovered a rare talent for the work.

Camila used her mortgage repayments to set up The Place to Be, offering psychotherapy and counselling to children in schools. It is now a national project and serves in excess of 20,000 children a year.

Her work is influenced by the Attachment theory elaborated by the British child-psychologist John Bowlby and others. This essentially holds that children develop as the direct result of how their first carers engage with them. To help troubled children learn to develop compassion and care for others, Camila believes they first need to hear someone apologise for everything they have been through. Kids Company staff do that, then help children to empathise by forming intensive attachment relationships with them. A wide range of techniques, such as the Tibetan Buddhist method of "compassionate restraint", is used to assist Kids Company staff deal with physically challenging children.

Camila won the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2005. She has written Shattered Lives: Children Who Live with Courage and Dignity, and other papers. She was also nominated in The Good List 2006, of exceptional people. She also appeared at the 2006 Conservative Party Conference.

Camila Batmanghelidjh was awarded the Woman of the year award for 2006 in recognition of her work with Kids Company.

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