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How Counsellors Can Intervene with School Bullying

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Being the target of bullying at some stage during a person’s life is practically unavoidable. Often one experiences this during the earlier, formative years of development. Most of us have gone through it to some degree during school. We may have been the victims of it, a bystander to or even perhaps an active participant in it. We all have experienced it and know that old adage that “kids can be cruel.” And, nowhere is it more apparent than in the types of bullying that can occur amongst groups or individuals. This can occur during a recess, on the playground or even during class.

From name calling to actual physical contact, these are the kinds of personal attacks that often lead individuals to retaliate. And often, as a student, they retaliate in a manner unbecoming of a student (or child). Or for worse, they could potentially lead to even more, concerning side effects.

According to Kids Helpline, one in four students in Australia experience bullying. This number is worrying, as bullying can have many negative effects. These include having trouble concentrating, loss of appetite, and even in extreme cases, intermittently going through suicidal thoughts.

There are several different types of bullying, these include: physical, verbal, social, damage to property, and cyberbullying. School counselors are trained to handle situations of bullying in several different ways. From conflict resolutions to implementing programs for preventing bullying from happening again, counselors handle these situations, quite skillfully.

If students somebody to listen to them, support and help with their situation, it encourages them to come forward. Consequently, they report the bullying they are experiencing to those that can deal with the situation accordingly.

The Paths to Solutions

Bradley University has outlined two helpful methods school counselors can implement to prevent bullying. Thus, they can assist those who are experiencing it.

Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) is a curriculum that promotes emotional and social learning. The PATHS training official website says the program’s aim is to reduce “aggression and behavior problems in elementary school-aged children while simultaneously enhancing the educational process in the classroom”. The trainers provide training for two or more times per week, with each session lasting at least 20 minutes.

PATHS hopes to encourage students to empathize with their peers. It aims to empower them in resolving conflicts in a peaceful and constructive manner. The program also provides evaluation kits and training workshops to let schools and counselors measure their success rates after implementation.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a method of psychotherapy. It attempts to help people learn to manage difficult or stressful situations more effectively. CBT methods can be useful for managing anxiety and stress. Practicing this, a counselor may attempt to disrupt the negative thinking patterns associated with these feelings. CBT aims to lessen the feelings of self-doubt that come with anxiety. It helps victims of bullying rebuild their confidence and get back control of their life.

CBT treatment involves a series of steps, but typically includes assessment of the circumstances of a particular conflict. Subsequently, it also covers providing suggestions or reading material for the issue, setting goals, and practicing strategies. Lastly, it involves actual homework that could require keeping a journal and incorporating helpful strategies into daily life. According to Bradley University, CBT is “one of the most effective therapies in addressing the emotional distress caused by bullying”.

More Offerings from The Curriculum

School counselors offer important therapy for those experiencing bullying. If helping students who are struggling with bullying is something that you think would be a fulfilling job, then it could be worth considering a career as a counselor. Online educational institutions, like Open Colleges, offer a Diploma of Counselling, which is a nationally recognized qualification that offers a balanced mix of theory and practice. This ensures you have the most up-to-date training for in-demand treatment areas. Crucially, the curriculum is also paired up with practical work placement, affording any prospective individual the chance to actively apply the knowledge acquired during the course.

When looking at it from an objective standpoint, bullying as part of a person’s development is as hard to avoid as puberty itself. To some, this might seem like an essential part of growing up. It’s meant to be something that “builds character” or “toughens you up”. All essential pieces that slot into the jigsaw that presents the individual as they grow and evolve through the years.

Be it during school in the early years, or at a place of employment in maturity, bullying (in all its forms) stands as a problem that needs to be dealt with in an adult and professional manner. And for all those that have experienced, or are continuing to experience bullying, it is of the utmost importance that they know that there is a support network in place for them to be able to help tackle the issue in an appropriate and considered way. Whether it’s a friend, a teacher, a counselor or a colleague, knowing that you’ve got someone who can listen to and talk you through those difficult times is the first step in tackling the issue.

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