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In the last section, we discussed the final step in the evaluation stage for dealing with an incident of internet bullying. This final step is to explore potential feelings as seen from the other participant’s point of view.
In this section, we will discuss 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.
Once a decision to have the internet bullyer and victim come together for joint sessions, a need clearly remains for individual work prior to the joint meetings. After control of the situation has been establish, and the problematic internet bullying situation has been evaluated with all of the participants, direct intervention can help prepare both internet bully and victim for the joint work ahead.
I have found that a seven step model for this direct intervention stage, focused on determining what direction to take in joint therapy, who to involve, and how individuals should be involved, can be useful in providing support for each client’s increasing awareness of self and other in relation to the internet bullying incident.
♦ Step # 1 - Individual Therapy Needs
As you recall from Section 4, Kasey and Laurie had been brought to counseling following a series of incidents in which Kasey was send harassing and threatening emails and instant messages to Laurie. Although Kasey had been involved in other incidents of bullying, bullying had not been an ongoing pattern in Kasey’s life, and her problematic peer relationships had been relatively recent, and mostly related to her early pubertal development.
During the evaluation stage, Kasey also displayed personal strength, and motivation to work directly with Laurie on improving their relationship. Because of Kasey’s motivation and history, I concluded that individual work with Kasey could be relatively brief. On the other hand, clients such as Tommy and Amy, who we discussed in Section 3, might require more than cursory individual counseling due to the severity of the internet bullying and their attitudes towards therapy and each other.
Clearly, individual counseling does not need to end when joint therapy begins. However, for some victims of internet bullying, the trauma reaction has been so severe that attempting to put the victim and internet bullyer together in joint counseling quickly would arouse so much fear and feelings of inadequacy that little productive work in likely to emerge, and substantial harm might result. For these clients, smaller steps designed to build confidence and strengthen intrapersonal characteristics obviously needs to come first.
♦ Step # 2 - Individual Discussions of Common Concerns
Clearly, all possible commonalities do not need to be discussed prior to a joint meeting, but in this second stage enough common concerns should be addressed so that something positive can occur during the meeting. As you know, observable progress is more important in early meetings that trying to arrange a joint session with the unrealistic hope of solving the problem once and for all.
Kasey and Laurie provide an example of a situation regarding step two. As you observed in Section 6, Kasey was making significant progress into understanding Laurie’s point of view. Both girls are in different stages of the same puberty stage, and both feel a great deal of pressure to be liked by others, although they react in different ways.
♦ Assessing Group Readiness Checklist
Think of your Kasey and Laurie. Would the assessing group readiness technique assist you in determining their readiness to move on to joint counseling concerning the internet bullying incident?
In this section, we have 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.