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CYC People

Charles Sharpe




I’ve been involved in the care and education of children and young people as a practitioner, manager, teacher and consultant since  1965.  I now practice as a psychodynamic psychotherapist in Totnes, Devon, England. I am also the presiding editor of the goodenoughcaring Journal. which provides an arena for discussion about the care, upbringing and education of children and young people including the nurture of those who are not living with their own families.  

In my work I have been influenced in the main by the psychodynamic theories of Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott and Wilfred Bion. I am particularly interested in the mutual aspects of the therapeutic relationship between children and those who provide their care. During my career I have been helped and supported by – among others – the teaching and advice of Martin Wigg, Haydn Davies Jones and Robert M. Young.  

Though Scottish by birth and, I suspect, by nature, I live in England with Jackie, my wife who is, and has been, the principal influence on my personal and professional life. I have two daughters, a son, two grandsons and a granddaughter.

How I came to be in this field

I became involved with the residential care and education of children and young people through expedience rather than altruism. I applied for a job at a residential school because it came with free family accommodation which with a young family to provide for was a distinct attraction. I got the job and in the long term this proved a happy chance. My career - details of which emerge from my many pieces of writing - has been, in both practical and emotional terms, a journey of many twists, turns, and undulations. Yet over time the relationships I’ve enjoyed with each youngster and colleague I have lived and worked with have enriched me to the point that I now feel almost ready to accept myself as a fully qualified grown up. For this I am grateful. My hope is that I have given something helpful in return. Some have been kind enough to say so. Yet I know also that sometimes I have failed to meet the needs of youngsters and colleagues.

Along the way I got a training. I gained a qualification as a teacher with the University of London in the 1960s and in the 1980s graduated with a B. Phil in Residential Child Care and Education at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. In the 1990s I did an MA in Psychoanalytic Studies at the University of Sheffield and followed this up by gaining my clinical qualification in psychotherapy at the Westminster Pastoral Foundation and Roehampton University. I gained most from my studies and training when I was given an opportunity for experiential and reflective learning. 

A favorite saying

Two sayings that are never far from my conscious self
“Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”
      - from My Back Pages by Bob Dylan.

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us”
     - from To a Louse by Robert Burns

These are a help when I feel my grandiose, omnipotent impulses creeping up on me.

A few thoughts for those starting out

Always, always, reflect on your part and your feelings in the relationships, the events and the processes engendered by your work. I believe this can give you not only greater self-awareness but just as importantly a sense of the inner world of each of the young people with whom you are working.

A recommended child and youth care reading link 

I am impressed and influenced by much of what is published on CYC-Net but for intellectual and emotional insight Thom Garfat’s article “Sitting with Jason” at offers me a great deal. It is a relatively short piece but it should be required reading for anyone who wants or needs to know what emotional containment means. It rings true.

A writing of my own

“The nature of a residential child care worker” offers an idea of some the conclusions I’m moving towards about residential child care.  It can be found at

Influences on my work

A number of people writing now influence my thinking about residential child care. Mark Smith and Adrian Ward are amongst those. Both are well known to CYC-Net fans like myself.

Anything else

Music has always assumed an important place in my work. Over the years I have listened to, and enjoyed with youngsters all kinds of music. I like the Kinks driven by the inspiration of Ray Davies’ lyrics and melodies, Angelic Upstarts, Doug E Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew, Muse, The Proclaimers,  Emmylou Harris and Franz Ferdinand but the musical experiences and memories that have consistently reached the parts that others can’t are :  Gustav Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, almost everything by Neil Young, and the voice of Willie Nelson.


Last updated October 2016

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