The Beginnings of Child Guidance Work
The Notre Dame Child Guidance Clinic was founded in Glasgow in 1931. The question of opening a child guidance clinic in connection with Notre Dame Training College, Glasgow was first raised in the summer of 1930. Dr Rush, lecturer in education at Jordonhill Training College for Teachers went to see Sister Marie Hilda (Hilda Gertrude Marley) and Sister Aimée, the principal of Notre Dame Training College, to discuss the possibility of founding a child guidance clinic. Sr Marie Hilda made preliminary visits to the Islington Clinic, London where she investigated the methods, techniques and essential requirements and to the recently established London Child Guidance Clinic at Canonbury Place. There, Dr William Moodie and Dr Lucy Fildes gave her the facilities to observe and fully investigate the clinical procedure.
Sr Marie Hilda had a very great natural psychological insight and having been given the impetus by Dr Rusk set about making herself an expert. Since the late 1920s she had been seeing and testing children and advising their parents as part of her psychology work in college. In subsequent years she did summer courses and laboratory work at London University as well as following courses as Louvain and she was in touch with everyone in the child guidance field.
In April 1931 Sr Marie Hilda helped Lady Margaret Kerr establish a Catholic child guidance clinic at Edinburgh, not only by giving advice but also by giving her own services as psychologist on Saturday mornings. She then applied to the trustees of the Commonwealth Fund for assistance with her own project. Her application was favourably received. It was also necessary to secure permission from lay and ecclesiastical authorities. The Archbishop of Glasgow gave his sanction and the director of education circulated pamphlets explaining the child guidance movement and arranged to notify head teachers of the weekly clinic attendances of children from their schools. The National Committee for the Training of Teachers recognised the work as a practical application of the psychology course followed by the students and, at a later date, voted a grant of 100 guineas towards clinic expenses.
The opening of the clinic in September 1931 was made possible by the generosity of the London Child Guidance Council and the superior of the Dowanhill community. The London Child Guidance Council loaned a fully-trained psychiatric social worker, Cecily Hay-Shaw and the Dowanhill community provided the premises for the clinic and was responsible for all the equipment and its maintenance.
In 1941, ten years after the clinic opened Sr Marie Hilda retired from the college staff where she had continued to lecture every morning before working in the clinic each afternoon. She was then able to devote her time to the clinic. Her clinic work was supplemented by a lecture-programme through which she sought others to follow her lead. Lecture tours took her to Scotland, England, Ireland, Germany, France, Holland and Belgium.
In 1942 she received notice of her election as Fellow of the British Psychological Society. In 1943 she became vice-president of the Guild of Catholic Social Workers in Scotland. In 1944 she was voted vice-president of the Scottish branch of the British Psychological Society. In 1947 she was presented with the Cross
Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice by the Archbishop of Glasgow.
In 1945 the clinic moved to larger premises at Athole Gardens.
Sister Mary Hilda
welcoming a boy to the Clinic
Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and play therapists in the 1940s
Thanks to these beginnings the Notre Dame Centre, Glasgow has been open for over 80 years working with children, young people and families. www.notredamecentre.org.uk
The above information was extracted from “Freedom to Grow – Sister Marie Hilda’s Vision of Child Guidance” by Sr Jude McAleer SND, Glasgow 1981
In 1942 Sr Marie Hilda helped to found a second Notre Dame Child Guidance Clinic in Liverpool which opened in 1943. This clinic became part of the Archdiocese of Liverpool’s Liverpool Catholic Children’s Society in the early 1960s and closed in 1976.
The Sisters were asked to open a child guidance clinic in the Westminster Archdiocese. The Notre Dame Child Guidance Clinic opened in Ladbroke Grove in 1966. it eventually closed in 1988.