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Bullied? Find The Right Counsellor!

The Importance of Finding a Workplace Bullying Counsellor That Understands the Dynamics of Mobbing


By Glynis Sherwood

Glynis Sherwood

Being bullied can be an overwhelming and exhausting experience. The personal resources that targets need to rely on to cope - clear thinking, concentration and emotional equilibrium - are often in short supply, due to unrelenting stress. Moving on from the experience can also be a challenge.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a counsellor who understands bullying and knows how to assist. For bullied targets, effective counselling support is a valuable investment that helps them get back on their feet as soon as possible.

How should a target of bullying go about finding a skilled and appropriate counsellor?

The Importance Of Good Fit

The common thread that runs through any successful counselling experiences is a positive relationship between counsellor and client. In other words, you like the counsellor, feel that s/he understands you, and that s/he is able to help you in ways that have tangible benefits, such as feeling more in control of your life, able to move on, etc. Aside from personalities that ‘click’, and evidence of professional training, a good counsellor for bullied targets should have the following qualities:

Workplace Bullying Counsellor

  • Understands that you are a victim of abuse and, if necessary, reminds you (over and over again) that bullying is not your fault

  • Does not confuse psychological injury with mental illness

  • Is familiar with the emotional and physiological symptoms of bullying. Neither minimizes nor misattributes symptoms to other problems

  • Is aware that you may be traumatized, screens for that possibility, and is prepared to treat the symptoms

  • Knows the difference between bullying and “personal conflict”

  • Monitors for substance abuse, sleep deprivation and appetite disturbance

  • Concentrates on solutions and moving forward, helping the bullied client to feel more in control

  • Teaches healthy coping and stress reduction skills (EG Assertiveness, Meditation)

  • Helps client to focus on resilience, strength and hope

  • Has some practical knowledge of concrete steps to take and can provide coaching around this.
    (EG What to say/not to say to employers, physicians, insurance companies, co-workers, unions, lawyers, etc.)

  • Can write psychological reports/letters identifying the consequences of “psychological injury” to the target

  • Has knowledge of community resources (EG Support groups)

  • Permits client to grieve loss, hurt and injury

  • Helps the target build personal strengths that will reduce the possibility of being targeted at future job sites (EG Developing office politics know-how)

  • Fits your budget. A certified counsellor with a master’s degree will cost around $100 per hour. A registered psychologist costs closer to $150 per hour. There is often little difference in counselling expertise and experience between these two professional groups. However, a psychologist has additional academic training and is licensed to perform specialized psychological assessments.

During initial contact with a prospective counsellor, clients should ask about their experience with bullied targets and get a sense of the counsellor’s approach. As the experience of bullying is so disempowering and potentially life destabilizing, targets should look for reassurance that they will get to solutions as quickly as possible.

Glynis Sherwood, MEd, CCC, RCC is a counsellor in private practice who helps people who have left abusive workplaces to heal from psychological injuries caused by bullying and mobbing. From her home base in eastern Canada, Glynis's services are offered around the world by Video (e.g. Skype). She provides counselling to help former targets of harassment overcome stress, anxiety, depression or trauma using counselling approaches designed to heal the hurt of abusive workplaces. Please contact Glynis by email to arrange a consultation.


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