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Our therapists at The Acorn Counselling & Psychotherapy Centre are professionally trained to deal with a wide and varied range of problems, including “Bullying”.

 What is bullying?

The most common definition of bullying is: repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, of a less powerful person or group of people, by a more powerful person or group of people, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual‘s right to freedom of expression and dignity.

Conflict is a normal part of most relationships because people have different perspectives, belief systems and priorities. An isolated incident of the behaviour described in this definition may be an affront to a person’s dignity, but as a once off incident is not considered to be bullying.

Bullying is different from aggression between people of equal power. However, someone can have less power than others for many reasons, including:  being shy, being different,  lacking confidence, having a different belief system, having problems at home, or lacking physical strength, or due to some physical or mental impairment.

Bullying takes many different forms including physical threats or violence; name-calling and teasing; being ignored; and social attacks on someone’s reputation. People can bully others directly, ie in person; or indirectly, such as by gossiping or ‘badmouthing’ to others; or through any form of communication technology or social media, including talking on the phone, writing, texting, emailing, and recording.

Bullying behavior occurs in schools, sports, youth groups, work places, social groups, and online activities. It can occur anywhere people gather, either in the real world or the virtual world.

Bullying takes place between people of all ages and walks of life. Young people who are being bullied are especially likely to feel trapped and alone because they usually don’t have a choice about where they live, go to school, or play.

People are also more susceptible to bullying in the workplace at present due to the current economic climate where they may be less inclined to make a complaint for fear of losing their job.

Sometimes people suffer bullying for years because they may not think they have any choice, or that they are just being over sensitive. Some common forms of bullying that clients in therapy have reported are:

  • My colleague scowls when I come into our office and tries to sabotage any idea I come up with by making up stories about me.”
  • My boss speaks to me in a sneering voice and makes nasty remarks about my competence instead of giving me feedback on how to improve my performance.”
  • “One family member is trying to ruin my reputation with the rest of our family and is blacklisting me from family events.”
  • “I’m on a board of directors of a community organisation. One member disrupts our meetings by threatening to resign if he doesn’t get his way or shouting others down if he disagrees about something.”
  • “My girl friend will get upset and threaten to break up if I don’t buy her things I’ can’t afford.”
  • “I was part of an a community group that was supposed to support parents but found myself being ganged up on and eventually shunned.”


In any relationship, people might make mistakes, lash out in hurtful ways, be rude, or be thoughtless. Bullying means that someone (or more than one person) is repeatedly and deliberately trying to hurt another person with less power.

Feeling helpless and persecuted and wishing that the bullying would stop are normal reactions.  However, feeling helpless, feeling victimised, and wishing that things would change will waste your time and energy, will most likely cause you a lot of pain, and will not make the situation better

When someone misuses his or her power with an intention to be hurtful to you, it can feel miserable. Figuring out how to use the power you already have to protect yourself can be life-changing.

The secure confidential setting provided by our therapists at Acorn Counselling creates a safe  space where our clients can have an in depth look at their present situation.

Clients learn how to take charge of their own emotional and physical safety, how to act safely and respectfully towards others, even if they feel frustrated or upset, how to set boundaries and respect the boundaries of others, and learn how to better manage future conflicts and relationship issues.

The bottom line is that people have the right to be treated with respect, and the responsibility to act respectfully towards others. working through underlying causes of bullying can be an excellent foundation to building a new, healthier way of living, and in the process  build self-esteem and self respect.