Counselling for Bullying & Bully Behaviour (including cyber-bullying)

•   Bullying behaviour can take the form of verbal bullying, social bullying, cyber bullying or physical bullying.

•   Bullying behaviour is generally intentional, recurring, and an abuse of power.

•   The emotional and psychological effects of bullying behaviour can be serious and long-standing for the victim. Common problems associated with bully victims include lack of confidence, anxiety, depression and difficulty making friends or trusting in relationships.
Bullying is a serious issue that appears to be increasing in our schools, in our workplaces, and online (cyber-bullying). In addition to impacting significantly on the success and pleasure that a person derives from their education or employment, bullying can also have a lasting affect on a victim’s self-confidence, capacity to connect and general mental health.

Forms of Bullying Behaviour

There are various types of bullying behaviour:

1.    Verbal bullying most commonly takes the form of name-calling, teasing, insults, and consistent negative commentary. This type of bullying is often covered up as a joke, but can be very demoralising and undermining of the victim’s confidence.

2.    Social bullying includes whispering, spreading rumours, side-lining, excluding, ganging up and creating social tension amongst a group. This is a common form of bullying experienced both in schools and in work-places. In addition, work-place bullying typically seeks to incapacitate a person from successfully undertaking their work, for e.g. by failing to instruct them properly on what they need to do.

3.    Physical bulling is easier to identify than verbal or social bullying because of its clear-cut illegality and more physically apparent outcomes. It involves acts of physical aggression against another person including knocking, shoving, slapping or beating a person.

4.    Cyber bullying uses the internet or other digital devices (such as facebook, twitter, texting or emailing) to engage in verbal or social forms of bullying. Cyber-bullying is a new format of bullying which is becoming increasingly problematic in the technological age, especially amongst teenagers and young people. It is difficult to monitor and it has dramatic reach.


What constitutes bullying behaviour?

Typically, bully behaviour is constituted by the following three factors:

1. A power imbalance: A bully is often bigger than their victim (physically, mentally, politically or financially, or in the case of children, in age), or more popular, or in some other position of power (such as a manager or boss). This position of power enables the bully to control or manipulate the victim in a way that makes it difficult for the victim to protect themselves. Bullying is essentially an abuse of this power.

2. Intention: A bully generally engages in bullying behaviour on purpose. That is, their behaviour is not accidental, but rather, they are trying to cause emotional or physical injury to the person they are bullying. This does not mean that a bully is always a bad person. Most commonly, bullying behaviour is learnt by experience, and the bully will often have a traumatic background themselves. In other cases, and particularly in the case of children, bullying behaviour may derive from lack of confidence, loneliness, a drive for attention, or other behavioural or learning difficulties.

3. Recurrence: A bully typically targets his/her victim over and over again, a situation that slowly whittles away at the victim’s self-confidence.

Characteristics of a bully

A bully is typically someone who:

-    is manipulative and controlling
-    is prone to aggressive behaviour (may have an anger management problem)
-    is quick to lay blame for their own problems or mistakes on others
-    doesn’t like losing
-    may have been the victim of similar behaviour as a child
-    may be acting out some other insecurity.

The effects of bully behaviour

Bullying can be insidious and therefore difficult to recognise. Typically it starts subtly and gets worse of time. If not picked up early, bullying can have a traumatic and long-lasting affect on the victim. It can lead to problems with:

-    self-confidence
-    anxiety and panic attacks
-    depression
-    trust in relationships
-    angry outbursts or re-enacting bullying behaviour against others

Indeed, the emotional and psychological impact of bullying behaviour for the victim are akin to that experienced by people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Bullying behaviour can also cause a child’s education to suffer irreparably, or a person to quit or lose their job.

Teaching assertiveness, and resilience, can be a good way to combat bullying. Teaching empathy can also help to stop bullies engaging in bully behaviour. Parents, teachers and managers should take concerns or complaints about bully behaviour very seriously.

How can I get help?

If you, or someone you know, has been the victim of bullying behaviour in the past, you may benefit from specialised counselling to work through the trauma and its effects. If you are experiencing bullying behaviour in the present, you may also benefit from the support of a professional counsellor or psychologist to help you deal with the consequences of the bullying and strengthen your capacity for resilience and emotional strength. Professional counselling can also help you make practical decisions about how to deal with the bullying situation, for e.g whether or not to leave your job, or how to approach your employer or the bully directly.

If you think you may have an anger management problem, or you are exhibiting bullying behaviour, counselling with an anger-management counsellor or psychologist can help you to understand what’s underlying your behaviour and provide you with tactics and tools to help you change your bullying behaviour.

Contact Associated Counsellors and Psychologists Sydney now to discuss how counselling can assist you.

Related Articles: More Articles on Bullying Behaviour

•   Bullying behaviour can take the form of verbal bullying, social bullying, cyber bullying or physical bullying.

•   Bullying behaviour is generally intentional, recurring, and an abuse of power.

•   The emotional and psychological effects of bullying behaviour can be serious and long-standing for the victim. Common problems associated with bully victims include lack of confidence, anxiety, depression and difficulty making friends or trusting in relationships.

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