In the last section, we discussed steps three and four in the evaluation stage for dealing with an incident of internet bullying. These second two steps are, gain the individual’s understanding of the situation, and explore the feelings of the individual being seen.
In this section, we will discuss the final step in the evaluation stage for dealing with an incident of internet bullying. This final step is to explore potential feelings as seen from the other participant’s point of view.
Final Step of the Evaluation Stage
♦ Step # 5 - Gaining Individual's Understanding of Situation
Remember Kasey and Laurie from the last section? After I gathered a general idea about each student’s feelings about the internet bullying incident, I moved on to the fifth step in the evaluation stage, gaining each individual’s understanding of the situation. This, as you are well aware, marks a key transition point for clients, between self-exploration to developing empathy for others.
In order to keep emphasis on Kasey’s progress in her understanding of herself, I most frequently introduced the task of considering Laurie’s point of view about early in our sessions. I felt that since Kasey generally exhibited difficulty generalizing, it was important to not change the subject when she was displaying progress in struggling to understand herself.
Instead, I felt it was important to allow the feelings of success go with Kasey as our session ended. By introducing the task of considering others’ points of view early in a session, I was able to provide Kasey extra time for reward and processing time to observe, think about, talk about, and take action to verify individual gains when she made progress during a session.
♦ 'Plant a Seed' Technique
Towards the end of our second session, I indicated to Kasey that we would be moving towards considering Laurie’s point of view in our next session. I used the Plant a Seed technique to try to set Kasey’s thinking in motion without trying right then to convince her of the importance of considering Laurie’s point of view.
I began the Plant a Seed technique by stating, "Next time I’d like for us to talk a little about what might be going on in the minds of some of the other people involved, especially Laurie. I’m understanding where you are coming from much better, but I’m less clear on Laurie. The better we understand both you and Laurie, the better chance we’ll have to make things work in a positive way for both of you."
Kasey stated, "I don’t know what I can say about Laurie. You’ll have to ask her."
I stated, "Don’t worry about it. I will talk to Laurie. But sometimes people, like you, see some things or can figure out things that the person themselves cannot see. We’ll talk more next time about the situation and see where it leads. Then we’ll make some decisions on what would be the best things for you and me to do."
During our next session, I led Kasey into a discussion of how Laurie might feel about being bullied on the internet. Kasey’s initial reaction was fairly typical. She insisted that she had no insight into Laurie’s point of view because they were nothing alike. In response, I stated, "Right, but you’ve been around Laurie and other girls at school quite a bit. What are some of the ways anybody might feel in this situation? How would you feel if someone spread rumors about you on the internet?"
As you are well aware, by asking Kasey to imagine what her feelings, thoughts, and reactions might be if she were Laurie, Kasey receives direction and support for coming up with ideas, without an emphasis on the correctness of the ideas.
I often find that when exploring potential feelings of the victim with an internet bully, it is important to find ways to encourage the client’s exploration without telling her or him "you should recognize this." In addition to the projection technique we have already discussed, I have also found brainstorming to be an effective technique. Brainstorming allows the therapist to play an active role, allows extremes to be legitimized. Evaluation, as you know, is also minimized in the process of brainstorming.
♦ 'Other Shoes' Technique - 3 Steps
Later in the session, I asked Laurie to try the Other Shoes technique. I have found that the Other Shoes technique can be extremely useful in helping clients summarize what we have discussed about exploring the other party’s point of view of a case of internet bullying.
-- Step # 1 - Key Feelings
First, I asked Kasey what she thought were key things about Laurie’s feelings. Kasey stated, "Well, she’s scared of what I’ll do. She’s embarrassed about the things I said to her online. Laurie probably wants to get me back, but knows she couldn’t do it by herself. I think she feels scared and that she can’t get away from me when she’s at home on her computer."
-- Step # 2 - Affirmation & 'What Else?'
Second, I stated to Kasey, "Good thinking. I imagine that is pretty accurate. What other things we talked about do you think Laurie might be feeling?" Kasey stated, "Probably she’s a bit lonely. Other kids are afraid of me, so they stay away from her."
-- Step # 3 - Imagine Life
Third, I asked Kasey to imagine what kind of life Laurie had at home or at school. Laurie stated, "I don’t know about Laurie’s home, but she doesn’t have many friends at school. I think most of her friends are on social meda. So… I guess that hasn’t been so fun lately." Clearly, this statement indicates that Kasey has made solid progress in this step of the evaluation stage.
Think of a Kasey you treated following a case of internet bullying. Would the Other Shoes technique help your internet bully begin to think of the victim as another person who has a life and feelings the internet bully can understand?
In this section, we have discussed the final step in the evaluation stage for dealing with an incident of internet bullying. This final step is to explore potential feelings as seen from the other participant’s point of view.
In the next section, we will discuss the first two steps in the Direct Intervention stage. These two steps are decide on individual therapy needs, and have individual discussions of common concerns.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Barlett, C. P., Prot, S., Anderson, C. A., & Gentile, D. A. (2017). An empirical examination of the strength differential hypothesis in cyberbullying behavior. Psychology of Violence, 7(1), 22–32.
Kowalski, R. M., Giumetti, G. W., Schroeder, A. N., & Lattanner, M. R. (2014). Bullying in the digital age: A critical review and meta-analysis of cyberbullying research among youth. Psychological Bulletin, 140(4), 1073–1137.
Yang, C., Sharkey, J. D., Reed, L. A., & Dowdy, E. (2020). Cyberbullying victimization and student engagement among adolescents: Does school climate matter? School Psychology, 35(2), 158–169.
What are two techniques that can be useful in the final step of the evaluation stage for dealing with an incident of internet bullying?
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