Introduction to treatment for bullying and harassment
- Bullying can cause physical, psychosocial, social and personality injuries for targets, victims, bullies, bystanders and families. The symptoms can be temporary or permanent.
- The sooner you obtain treatment the better, don’t wait for months or years!
- Even if you take successful legal action, some symptoms will never heal.
- Besides, experienced psychologists can provide bully blocking skills and other options to deal with bullies.
- Some clients can get health fund rebates, managed health care plan (Medicare, Australia), crimes compensation or Workcover to subside their treatment. Some can deduct sessions for being work related.
- If the school is not able to protect your child, consult your family doctor, speak to your local professional association of psychologists and request someone who is professionally skilled at helping children and adolescents deal with bullying.
- Treatment is quick and takes around four – six sessions on average.
- Avoid any therapist who tells your child, “Walk away, do nothing, tell them to stop’ There is no evidence this works, (just ask your child,). Besides, you would not dare to tell them to walk away from a bear.
- When targets become angry, scared or upset they “make a bully happy! Likewise, if they showed their distress to an animal, it would attack. The core to treatment is teaching children how not to react when bullied, but to remain cool, focused and respond neutrally. They will immediately notice the bully’s embarrassment and their need to stop. Then other children are more likely to respect the target. Thus, managing bullies is a prerequisite for effective social skills!
- Treatment should-
- help targets deal with their distress and powerlessness,
- teach them how to block bullies
- train them how to build their social survival skills, and avoid being ostracised, learning how to become a nice, friendly, caring person and join a social group.
- Remember that there is more bullying out of school once they leave, thus all children require these lives social, survival skills.
- Refer “Bully Blocking” (JKP 2007)
- “Harry the bully blocker” (coming)
Training for therapists working with targets of school bullying
- Treating targets of school bullying is a new area.
- Believe it not, despite school bullying being a major cause of school distress for kids, there is no mention of school bullying in the DSM V, the “psychiatrists bible”.
- Bullying is caused by dysfunctional systems, at school or at work. It is further affected by individual personalities. Thus, treatment issues maybe complex.
- Bullying causes many individual injuries, including depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, physical symptoms, social difficulties and can change personality. It can cause epigenetic changes.
- Thus, the treating psychologist needs to be knowledgeable and skilled in many different areas, understand bullying and be able to provide short and long-term therapy and use a range of treatment methods, depending on their clients’ needs.
- Evelyn Field has worked as a therapist for many years and provides full day training for therapists in treating targets of school bullying or workplace bullying, they have been approved by the Australian Psychological Society, and can be used for professional development. You can consult her for advice on how to choose a treating professional.
- Many workplaces don’t manage workplace bullying effectively as they deny it’s toxic impact on employees and productivity.
- Whether the bullying has just begun, you are still at work but having difficulty coping, or you have been seriously injured by the bullying, you will need to seek help from your family doctor, a psychologist who has specific experience in dealing with bullying at work, and sometimes a psychiatrist with similar expertise.
- You can speak to your local professional association of psychologists and request someone who is professionally skilled at helping you manage workplace
- Although the fees for an expert psychologist may appear high, it is far better to consult a skilled psychologist in person or online, as they may help you deal with the bullying far more effectively and in less sessions. They are more likely to understand all the legal and other implications, your rights and options than someone who does not have time to the current evidence.
- The role of the skilled psychologist is basically:-
- History taking
- Symptoms and Diagnosis
- Treatment program – Mild, moderate and severe
- Goal-based therapies
- Process or “slow therapy”.
- You will need to learn how to block the bullying behaviours and work out your best options as regards work, legal rights etc. (Refer ‘Bully Blocking At Work ‘) Treatment should take 4-10 sessions on average.
- If you have been severely traumatised then you may need to consult your therapist for many months or years to recover from the impact of the bullying and subsequent medico-legal hazards.
- Be aware that although there may be specific day or residential clinics for assessing and treating victims of workplace bullying in Germany, Norway, Italy, there are none in USA, Australia, New Zealand, England.
- Consider looking for local bullying associations to provide names of skilled mental health professionals.
Training for therapists working with targets of workplace bullying
- Treating targets of school and workplace bullying are new areas.
- There is no mention of school bullying in the DSM V, the “psychiatrists bible”, but workplace bullying is mentioned at the back of the DSMV. (Pages 723/724)
- Bullying may cause a specific trauma, known as Workplace Bullying Trauma (WBT) which has a different constellation of symptoms to other chronic traumas.
- Bullying is caused by dysfunctional management systems, at school or at work. It is further affected by individual personalities. Thus, treatment issues are complex.
- Bullying causes many individual injuries, including depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, physical symptoms, social difficulties and can change personality.
- Thus, the treating practitioner needs to be knowledgeable and skilled in many different areas, understand bullying, provide evidence-based psychoeducation, and be able to provide short and long-term therapy and use a range of treatment options, depending on their clients’ needs.
- Evelyn Field has worked as a therapist for many years and provides full day training for therapists in treating targets of school bullying or workplace bullying, they have been approved by the Australian Psychological Society, and can be used for professional development.
- You can contact Evelyn for advice on how to find a suitable therapist or develop suitable training to work in this area.
- Refer books on workplace bullying by Evelyn M Field OAM, FAPS
Workplace Bullying Checklist
Evelyn’s workplace bullying checklist is based upon the DSMV, the Breslau Scale
( https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1176/ajp.156.6.908) and common WBT symptoms. It has been used effectively for many years in writing legal reports, it provides validation, and has been presented internationally. If you would like to use Evelyn’s symptom checklist then email her, Email- email@example.com.
“Diagnosis and treatment, repairing injuries caused by workplace bullying.”
Evelyn Field OAM, (lead author), Dr Patricia Ferris, (corresponding author), in
” Workplace Bullying. Dignity and Inclusion at Work, in Handbook of Workplace Bullying, Emotional Abuse and Harassment, Springer. (2019) According to Premilla D’cruz, this is “ A very unique and first of its kind chapter in the field, and hence will make a very important and unparalleled contribution.”
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this paper.
“The recent evidence around workplace bullying demonstrates that although some employees avoid injury, others can be injured for months or years. In addition to the injuries experienced as a consequence of workplace bullying, when a target’s request for safety, validation or compensation is denied, their symptoms can be exacerbated further. Thus injured targets develop many different, symptoms of anxiety, depression and trauma.
In this chapter we have tried to summarize some of the basic issues in understanding why some employees are injured, why they require immediate validation, safety and restorative solutions, under the guidance of responsible, respectful management. When targets fail to receive these interventions, they may become further injured and require skilled psychological intervention.
Although currently there are no specific diagnoses or evidence-based treatments for workplace bullying, we have tried to incorporate current therapeutic thinking and practice towards creating an expanded framework for understanding, diagnosis, treatment and further research for bullied targets. Consequently, we synthesized different psychological approaches towards diagnosis and treatment, and identified some key processes in any treatment plan. We have also highlighted the three core therapeutic approaches, namely, psycho-education, goal-based therapies and process therapy, which we believe are essential. We have also acknowledged some of the challenges that therapists encounter in practice.
It is essential to recognize that an effective treatment plan is dependent upon bullied workers’ physical health and emotional well-being needs being managed by their family doctor and a trained mental health team, to help them regain confidence and return to work. As awareness of the need for early therapeutic intervention grows, hopefully many more bullied clients will receive effective treatment earlier, return to work and rebuild their lives. This may be facilitated by changing the typically adversarial manner in which experiences of workplace bullying are generally treated to more collaborative, respectful diagnostic and treatment approaches.
Ultimately the diagnosis of the bullied target’s injuries depends upon their symptoms, personal factors and current stressors. Although the therapist may feel external pressure to apply a plethora of modern brief clinical techniques to treat the bullied person, the therapist should focus upon the core essence of a safe, healing-enriched therapeutic relationship, while integrating appropriate goal-oriented therapies and psycho-education to empower their client to rebuild their life.
In contrast, with severely injured longer-term targets of workplace bullying trauma, there is even less evidence of effective treatment, thus the fundamental role of a therapist is to help them manage their trauma and restructure their life. This involves repeatedly witnessing their client’s traumatic experiences, validating their painful emotions, listening to their perceptions of the stressful significant events in a safe environment, assisting them to confront their subsequent struggles and find meaning in their traumatic experiences and in the subsequent lengthy process find the support and skills to reconstruct their life. While we base this upon our clinical experience, clearly there is a need for more clinical research on effective treatment.”