Healthcare Training Institute - Quality Education since 1979
CE for Psychologist, Social Worker, Counselor, & MFT!!
In the last section, we discussed helping teen clients understand four aspects of the ‘clique chick’. These four aspects are, what makes the clique chick tick, the clique squeeze, rapid responses, and the bottom line.
In this section, we will discuss three factors regarding the impact of manipulation on a client within a clique structure. These three factors are, the emotional toll of manipulation, diminished self-reliance and self-esteem, and entrapment and victimization. At the end of the section I will explain the Take Five technique I used with Debbie.
As you listen to this section evaluate if playing it during you next session might be beneficial to a teen client of yours. Debbie, 15, recently moved cross country with her parents, just in time for Debbie to start tenth grade at a local school. Debbie had been one of the popular girls at her old school. Both of Debbie’s parents had high-paying jobs, and were able to make sure their daughter had the latest clothes and threw the coolest parties. It was a big shock to Debbie when she found the popular clique at her new school very closed off.
Debbie stated, "I was really determined to get in with the popular girls! When they finally let me sit at their lunch table, I found myself bragging about how much money my parents made. Then the other girls suddenly started being a lot nicer, talking shoes and clothes with me. By the end of that lunch period, I felt I was making some real social headway!" The clique girls quickly figured out that Debbie would do anything to be popular, so they arranged for ways for Debbie to ‘buy’ her way into their good graces.
This culminated in Debbie manipulating her parents into paying for a spa day for Debbie and 14 of her new ‘friends’ at a cost of $250 per person. Debbie stated, "The night after the party, I was so excited. I knew we’d be friends forever! But when I got to school on Monday, everyone ignored me!"
3 Impacts of Manipulation
♦ Impact # 1 - Emotional Toll
In addition, the clique’s ‘gifts’ of positive attention were random and unpredictable. Debbie stated, "I never was quite sure when they were going to be nice to me! Sometimes when I paid for lunch they’d act like nothing happened, but sometimes they’d all start complimenting me and invite me out to try on new clothes." This randomized partial reinforcement added a very strong and unpleasant component of anxiety to Debbie’s experience.
Debbie also stated, "No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to make them really happy with me. Even when we were all having fun, I’d worry about whether I was really ‘in’ yet or not. I got a little frustrated… but I was afraid to say anything!" As Debbie’s own needs continued to be unmet, her needs became more exaggerated and pressing. I am sure that you have heard the phrase "If I show them how good I am, they’ll treat me differently!" many times in your practice.
Although Debbie kept her feelings of frustration to herself, her toxic levels of frustration and hostility took their toll physically in the form of severe headaches. As you are well aware, research has shown that sustained or frequent frustration from unmet needs can raise an individual’s risk of stoke, heart attack, and hardening of the arteries.
♦ Impact # 2 - Diminished Self-Reliance & Self-Esteem
Debbie stated, "Finally belonging meant everything to me, so I did whatever I had to. It got to the point that I couldn’t pick out an outfit for school without calling one of the other girls to make sure it was cool. I felt funny about it, but I didn’t want to take any risks. I felt so dumb that I felt if I made a choice like that myself, I’d just screw up and lose whatever ground I had gained."
Impact # 3 - Entrapment & Victimization
Debbie stated, "I didn’t really have a choice. I either did what the other girls wanted, or I’d be a social reject for the rest of my life!" Clearly, Debbie’s perception that she was still trapped in her relationship with the clique was in-fact trapping her in the vicious cycle of the relationship. To Debbie, standing up to the manipulation from the clique members would surely result in a full-blown catastrophe.
♦ 7-Step Technique: Take Five
I stated to Debbie, "Even if you end up saying yes to the request, give yourself a pat on the back. Just taking five minutes puts you back in a position of control. You have asserted your right to think before making a decision." Think of your Debbie. Would the Take 5 technique be helpful to him or her? Would playing this section in your next session be beneficial?
In this section, we have discussed three factors regarding the impact of manipulation on a client within a clique structure. These three factors are, the emotional toll of manipulation, diminished self-reliance and self-esteem, and entrapment and victimization, as well as the Take Five coping Technique.
In the next section, we will discuss a technique for desensitizing to clique manipulation tactics. Steps involved in the desensitizing technique are, defining terms, recognizing emotional reasoning, creating a tape, relaxation, practice, and desensitization in practice.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Irwin, A., Li, J., Craig, W., & Hollenstein, T. (2019). The role of shame in chronic peer victimization. School Psychology, 34(2), 178–186.
Rueger, S. Y., & Jenkins, L. N. (2014). Effects of peer victimization on psychological and academic adjustment in early adolescence. School Psychology Quarterly, 29(1), 77–88.
Smithyman, T. F., Fireman, G. D., & Asher, Y. (2014). Long-term psychosocial consequences of peer victimization: From elementary to high school. School Psychology Quarterly, 29(1), 64–76.