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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Bullying In The Helping Professions

by Amy

I find it very ironic that managers and coworkers can say that they are all for clients but when they interact with coworkers, they treat them with much less compassion.

I don't know... sometimes it comes across as an outward hatred if you show weakness because you're expected to be "all-together" all of the time.

I thought that my "being bullied days" are over. I am much older and do my best not to get into any conflicts with people, make sure that I'm respectful and polite for most of the time etc. I've been working on a thesis for a doctoral program that I'm in and have a Master's degree. I've worked in many places and have been successful, but there have been three times that have stood out for me as I have been bullied.

I'm going to discuss this time. It just baffles me. From Day 1 my supervisor looked at me as if she believed that I couldn't do my job in interviewing clients. She sat in one of my sessions and then gave me some feedback in the very beginning. I thought that all was okay.

Well, I was still learning my job and I had the bad luck of having these two clients file a complaint because they were angry with me because I was part of the system. Both the manager and my supervisor said that it wasn't my fault and that they were just very difficult.

I had handed in a DVD of my session (with the client's permission) because it was required of me. My supervisor said that it was a good video and that I didn't do myself justice when I was writing my analysis of it.

Well, after the second client complaint, her comments on that same DVD became more and more negative. The supervision sessions got to the point where they would be abusive. She started sitting in in my sessions and when she sat in one of mine last week she said that she did not believe I had the skills to do my position.

When I asked her to be specific she named some things that she believed workers should have and one of them was just having a "know how" of what the client wanted. In other words, I had to guess how the client is feeling and then address it even though I was told that these interviews were not counselling sessions.

Plus when she sat in the session with me, she sat right next to the client as if she were part of the session. She has scolded me for a half hour for being late to pick up two clients (I admit that was not good on my part) but then she started to say that she had concerns about my work and made me appear to be this cold, heartless person that did not know how to engage with clients and carry on an interview.

The manager even threatened me and said "Don't think I don't know about what is going on with you and ____'s concerns about some of your work."

I have seen 47 clients and only had 2 complaints that they had told me were not directly my fault. All the client evaluations my supervisor has shown me have been positive. If I was incompetent like she implied, wouldn't there be more clients complaining about me?

I think it is coincidental at this work place that I am the 4th non-white person that they are forcing out of employment. Plus I do not understand why some rules are different for other workers.

My supervisor appears not to be giving me constructive feedback but sitting in my sessions and collecting all the things that she thinks are bad and using them as excuses that I'm not right for this job.

I find it very intimidating when she sits in on my sessions and will tell her to stop doing that and that she can watch a DVD of the session (if I get my client's permission).

It just makes me very angry and I am going to file a complaint. I'm not afraid that the organisation that I'm discussing is called (name removed) and it is funny that they do not have great relations with their employees.

I have spoken with an ex coworker that they just forced out of employment. She was very good at her job (and I'm not being biased), and she was replaced by this worker who messes up alot but has a father in the industry who helped her get the job.

I don't know how much longer I can take of this but it has been wearing me down. It has made me cry, become depressed, worried and dread going back to work. I don't have job security. It is a shame since up till two weeks ago, I loved this job.

I am baffled that I am getting bullied. I haven't gotten into any conflicts with my colleagues and have held myself professionally with my clients. But my supervisor is so intent on getting me fired. The seating arrangements were even changed so that she is sitting right next to me and can hear every word that I say on the phone and to coworkers. It is hard not to stutter or be a bit concerned because I feel like I'm being examined under the microscope.

I am so glad to hear other people's stories because it's horrible to think I'm the only one. I think workplace bullies are the worst of their kind -- they lack compassion, empathy and tact -- they can be two-faced, and base their judgments on hearsay. Or if you don't fit in in our work "clique" they will find a reason to fire you. I feel like we are all in high school again.

I would like these bullies to know that they can't keep getting away with this.

Comments for Bullying In The Helping Professions

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Bullying in the Helping Professions
by: Anonymous

I, too, as an older experienced nurse received bullying at work. I was the only non-white person on the night staff and was also a temporary (travel-nurse with a 13 week contract). The abuse began when the manager offered me an assistant managerial position. I was lied about (thank God for computer which verified my work), called names (among them, my least favorite The Caucasian) and given "mission impossible" assignments. Needless to say, when my 13 weeks were up, I happily left.

You Are Not Alone
by: Jenny Whittle

Hi Amy,

My name is jenny and like you I was bullied but in a different type of industry. I believe bullying happens when people find good workers threatening.
If you are very intelligent that too can bend a persons nose. If you have excellent people skills and always want to do the right thing its enough to get bullies on edge.
Thank God for a person like Anton. If it wasnt for him and this great idea, I dont think many people would have known just how bad the work force can be these days.
Thank you to Anton for this wonderful website and all the best with your future.

In response to Bullying in the Helping Professions
by: Anonymous

I too am in the helping profession and repeatedly find that the very nature of 'helping' is the culprit d'jour! Consider this: you're in an office full of 'helpers' (rescuers). Where there are rescuers, there must also exist victims else there is no need for rescuers. When a rescurer feels helpless, s/he either becomes a victim or a persecutor. If the rescuer cannot function in their 'natural' role of rescuer, s/he will 'shift' into persecution or somehow become a victim themselves and all the time knowing that the other rescuers will rush to the rescue often competing amongst themselves to see who can get there first! The new helpers immediately begin to persecute the 'villain' while rescuing the poor 'victim'. Viola! The triangle is complete! The new rescuer is once again needed and back in their comfort zone by protecting the poor little victim and YOU, you mean ole persecutor.. is probably FIRED by now! It is the typical and time-honored Karpman Drama Triangle.

Get to know the drama triangle by heart... Know it, love it, and STAY OUT OF IT my friend!!!

'Fired just last week and am now expecting them to file a complaint against my social work license.'

by: random LCSW w/24 yrs. experience in US medical social work

Amy’s Story is so close to my story..even the x 3 part! Except I am not in a PhD program..and feel so lost, looking at ways to even leave the field. Thanks for the validation Amy and having the courage to share your story. I have to believe that bullying in the workplace is getting more and more press. I see more articles on the subject than I ever did even 3 years ago. So can only hold out hope that my own daughter will have laws that will protect her one day.

Workplace bullying ultimately effects clients
by: Brandy Davenport

I have experienced work place bullying that I have learned in the end only causes poor treatment outcomes for clients, actually causing devastation in their lives. The helping professionals are caught up in competition and for the bullied employees they're too busy trying to fend off the bullying behaviors that increases employee burnout. The workplace bully whether they are a colleague or manager spend their time displaying these terrible behaviors that include micromanaging, undermining work, gossip, triangulation, and a variety of other workplace and office behaviors where they are too busy participateing in this behavior that clients often fall through the cracks. In the case of the bully their focus is on bullying causing a toxic workplace atmosphere and the employees who are the target experience job burnout and negative emotional and physical health themselves, constantly trying to pull themselves up. This behavior should never be tolerated for even a minute.

Clients are victimised by them too
by: Anonymous

As a CLIENT who has witnessed and been subjected to much bullying by people within the helping professions, there is a not insignificant number of people who seem to enter them for the assurance of having a vulnerable population over which they can flex their power because they have credibility and standing when their abusive behavior is challenged AND receive blind praise for their egos from uninformed laypeople. I'm in a situation right now for example, in which a social worker seemingly intentionally sows discord and tries to turn clients against each other to manufacture issues to 'therapeutically' resolve in the name of justifying their existence/funding.

There is a criminally infinitesimal amount of research on this, but we know for example that around a quarter of social workers admit to inflicting violence on their clients mostly of the psychological form and that there are even a not insignificant number of serial killers in the medical professions. It's frankly negligent that the social sciences have not done more toward researching, identifying and rooting out these bad actors.

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