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On the last track, we discussed 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.
On this track, we will discuss steps three and four of the direct intervention stage. These steps are meeting jointly and identifying common goals.
Alan, age 17, became a target of internet bullying after breaking up with his girlfriend Janet, age 18. After Alan broke up with her, Janet started a web page dedicated to spreading rumors about Alan and making vicious threats. Her website included hand-drawn images of Alan being mutilated in various ways, and Janet sent every new drawing to all of Alan’s email addresses.
Alan stated, “I don’t want to work with Janet on this. Half the problem is that I can’t get away from her! It’s like I’m tied to her! She’s in three of my classes at school, and then when I get home she’s on my phone and my computer. Why would I want to sit in a little room and be around her more? I just want someone to get Janet away from me!”
Although Alan’s feelings were certainly understandable, since he and Janet attended the same school, it was necessary that the two learn cooperative strategies through working together jointly. Janet faced expulsion if she did not participate in a full course of conflict resolution therapy, and her parents were also adamant that she attend. Alan’s parents were also firm in their desire for Alan to participate in the conflict resolution process.
Step # 3 - Meet Jointly
Eight Parts to Structured Joint Sessions
I have found that this pattern, while useful, is not a natural one and may take some adjustments for all parties involved. Since the relationship between the internet bully and victim is characteristically lacking in agreed-upon cooperative behaviors, the idea of giving attention to progress towards common benefits may be resisted. However, this structure does provide a new way for internet bullies and victims to work with each other. I have also found that this technique can be useful for reducing the tension victims of internet victims feel concerning feeling tethered to their aggressor.
Step # 4 - Identify Common Goals
Common goals, as you are well aware, provide the reasons for the clients to continue to come to the joint sessions. Since it was important to not encourage unrealistic or idealistic goals for Janet and Alan, I developed the following three low-level, reasonable goals through working with Alan and Janet:
For Janet and Alan, the common goal of reestablishing a friendship would be too remote to provide realistic day to day hope and motivation. Think of your Janet and Alan. What realistic, achievable goals might be appropriate to establish during the fourth step in the direct intervention stage?
On this track, we have discussed steps three and four of the direct intervention stage. These steps are meeting jointly and identifying common goals.
On the next track, we will discuss steps five and six of the direct intervention stage. These steps are agreeing upon actions and conditions, and reevaluating goals regularly.
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