Workplace bullying and mental health counseling

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Counseling Today devotes an excellent cover story by Laurie Meyers to the effects of bullying behaviors, school, workplace, and online. Jessi Eden Brown, a licensed mental health counselor and coach affiliated with the Workplace Bullying Institute, is a featured interviewee and shares a wealth of important information on workplace bullying and how to work with targets.

Jessi has counseled and coached hundreds of people who have experienced workplace bullying, and her knowledge of this subject is second to none. She includes a bit of her own story in explaining how she works with clients:

Brown began specializing in counseling clients who have experienced workplace bullying after going through the experience herself in two different positions. “Both times were painful and deeply confusing,” she says. “I seriously considered leaving the counseling profession after the second experience.”

However, a friend who was doing web design for WBI introduced her to psychologists Gary and Ruth Namie, the founders and directors of the institute. The Namies were looking for a professional coach and offered Brown the job. As she worked with those who had been bullied, she began to integrate her experiences into her private counseling practice.

“The vast majority of my clients present as capable, accomplished professionals with a documented history of success in the workplace,” she says. “At some point in their careers, they encounter the bully and everything changes .”

. . . Brown says the first step toward helping clients who are being bullied is to identify what they are experiencing — workplace bullying and psychological violence. Naming the behavior helps clients frame and externalize their experiences by realizing that they are not creating or imagining the problem, she explains.

“Encouraging the client to prioritize [his or her] health comes next,” Brown says. “Working closely with other health care providers is essential in situations where the individual’s health has been severely compromised.”

Jessi goes into quite a bit of detail about workplace bullying, which makes this piece helpful to counselors, coaches, and bullying targets alike. And for those who want to further understand the dynamics of bullying in other contexts, the sections on school and online behaviors will be useful.

On the whole, the mental health community has been behind the curve concerning workplace bullying, so this extensive article is very welcomed, with a bow to Counseling Today for giving this topic its cover. It could not be more timely, as we continue to learn more about the destructive effects of workplace bullying on individuals. (I’ll be writing more about this soon.)

Folks who are already working with a therapist, counselor, or coach might consider sharing this piece with them. I’ve also just added it to my own Need Help? resource page on this blog.

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