Mental anchors of individuals who are bullied

Who and what potentially can help. (Part 3)

In the previous article “The Circumstances of a Bullying individual” I stated that there are ways how the teacher can prevent bullying. Now let’s take a glimpse at the scenario from a child’s perspective.

Mental anchors mean that it is possible to find a functional relationship. This also leads to the ability to find a coping strategy. The question arises why a functional relationship is important for the ability to find a coping strategy. Obviously, all relationships are influenced by dysfunctional dynamics, therefore functional relationship does not necessarily mean finding someone to help, but somebody capable of balanced interaction which basically means functional. In other words, a child learns a new way to interact. Functional also means denying any projections that seem to be unwanted coping strategies. Following this thought can reveal that the pattern of behaviour and the way a child is perceived has changed. Such change can follow a different set of relationship dynamics. And it is better if such a relationship is established with a professional counsellor.

  1. A child can establish a desired relationship with the family members. Unfortunately, this is influenced by the dysfunctional pattern, therefore it cannot provide any solution. For instance, as mentioned in the last article, according to Karpman’s drama triangle there is a role of the rescuer who wants to rescue others in order to achieve acceptance of victim consciousness from others. If the family member plays such role, the outcome will likely be that a child will be confused.
  2. A child can find a friend on his side. It requires a lot of effort to keep such a relationship. Besides, no more than one student is usually bullied in a class. Although the friend will fully be able to understand that bullying is not right, he also does not want to be bullied. It is interesting that the friend involved is not taken directly as a target for bullying. Just hypothetically, if the environment with its influences weren’t included, such a relationship could provide a solution.
  3. A child can get indirectly influenced by the teacher. And there are more ways, for instance:
    1. Teaching positive communication skills.
    2. Classroom discussions about the motivation and effects of bullying to sensitize students and promote self-awareness.
    3. Teaching skills for handling bullies through role-playing and other techniques. For example, students can write plays and act out different bullying scenarios in the classroom.
  4. A child can get indirectly influenced by the school. For instance:
    1. System for a child to be able to report being bullied and get immediate help. Here would be best to give the child the opportunity to be anonymous. This could also be a signal for the teacher to start observing his class more.
    2. Counselling for bullied children.
    3. School-wide events that focus the student body on bullying, for instance, “Bullying Awareness Tuesdays.”
  5. Now a child counsellor enters the scene. S/he is available at the school, which is the best option, however, the counsellor is not always an employee of the school. Thus arises the issue that private counselling is hard to afford. In case that the therapy is affordable and the counsellor is highly skilled, it may still take time to integrate a new way of understanding and this goes hand in hand with the pressure from the other side, for instance, consequences of the bullying and ongoing issues within the family. Besides, the fact that the child is attending a counsellor can very often make the situation worse for many reasons, for instance, that the family members might not be fully consistent with the therapy. So, on one hand, there is potential for a solution, but on the other hand, there is a potential for the situation to get worse. And I did not talk about the fact that it could be complicated to establish a relationship with a counsellor in the first place. For instance, a child can collapse due to stress, which can happen at the moment when the following therapy is treating symptoms and then the cause. But in such a situation, the therapy very often addresses only symptoms. So timing and the ability to handle the situation professionally are very important. However, here I highlight prevention as the main aim.

When a child sees that there is no functional relationship that can be used, there come other attempts. For instance, a child will try to fit in with older peers. This can become a potential subconscious preference for selection of future partners. Or a child can try to strongly change his/her behaviour. For instance, a child can follow a strong desire to defend him/herself as somebody who fights everyone. This can become a potential subconscious preference for overall understanding the rest of the world for the rest of the child’s life.

Scheme of the mental anchors
Jakub Tencl, Ph.D. MHS Accred
Jakub Tencl, Ph.D. MHS Accred (Dip. Psychology) is a clinical hypnotherapist based out of London, Brighton, and Prague. He has become known for his uniquely effective methods, including a system of mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy that he developed himself. A natural leader, he has organized multiple therapeutic groups, his commitment to his clients’ well-being always shining through.