It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Professor Bill Yule, a founding trustee and guiding spirit of Children and War.
Bill’s long and distinguished career in psychology encompassed clinical research, professional training and humanitarian action. A softly-spoken and kindly man, he was known and loved by generations of psychologists, psychiatrists, humanitarians and other colleagues and he will be greatly missed.
His professional roles included being Professor of Applied Child Psychology at King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience for 18 years; director of the clinical psychology training course at the Institute; and head of clinical psychology services at the Bethlem Royal and Maudsley Hospitals Special Health Authority in London.
He was instrumental in establishing clinical child psychology as a discipline in the UK, served as Treasurer for the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and was a member of the editorial advisory board for the Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry (JCPP). He published more than 300 articles and nine books on the subject of child psychology.
Internationally, Bill was renowned for his pioneering research on understanding and treating the effects of trauma on children, and in 2005 he was given the lifetime achievement award by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), for his work with children. In 2007 he received the Aristotle Prize of the European Federation of Psychological Associations (EFPA).
This specialism was prompted by work undertaken after the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987, and in the 1990s he served as an advisor to UNICEF during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. During the Sri Lankan civil war, he was a member of the British Health Expert Group, helping to identify therapeutic approaches for treating the psychological effects of trauma.
It was while assisting children affected by war in former Yugoslavia that he began to develop the ideas that would lead to the founding of the Children and War Foundation. Together with colleagues from the Institute of Psychiatry in London and Norway’s Center for Crisis Psychology, he developed a manualised group intervention, called Teaching Recovery Techniques (TRT), which can be used by non-specialists to help children to cope with the trauma of war. The TRT manual was later adapted for children affected by large-scale disasters such as earthquakes.
Since 1998, TRT has been used to relieve children’s suffering worldwide, including after earthquakes in Greece, Turkey, Iran, India, Chile and China, the South-East Asian tsunami of 2000, and conflicts in Ukraine, Uganda, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Iraq and Syria. Evaluations of TRT in such settings shows that it is effective in reducing children’s traumatic stress symptoms.
In 2000 Bill was a co-founder of the Children and War Foundation in Norway, and in 2021 a co-founder of Children and War UK. His life of service continued well beyond his official retirement in 2005, and he remained highly active as a trustee and treasurer of Children and War UK until his unexpected passing this month.
Bill died suddenly but peacefully at his home on 5 November 2023, aged 83. He is survived by his wife Bridget, his daughter Claire and son Alastair, daughter-in-law Kelly and three grandchildren. Our thoughts are with all of them at this time.