In recent years, the phenomenon of bullying, even in the more recent form of cyberbullying, has widely spread and has been widely analyzed by the mass media.

Whatever form of bullying we are talking about, it is indisputable that it is a phenomenon, as more and more studies testify, with a strong impact on victims in terms of loss of self-esteem, self-efficacy, perception and low personal value. This can lead to the development of both physical and psychological disorders such as anxiety and panic attacks, depression and, in some cases, it can also lead to making extreme gestures (Klomek, 2007; Kowalski, 2013; Beckman, 2012).

The term bullying derives from the English “bullying” and is used in international literature to connote the phenomenon of bullying between peers in a group context (Olweus, 2006). In order to talk about bullying, behavior and violence, both physical and verbal, must be repeated over time and always directed towards the same person who, in most cases, is in a inferior situation (is younger, shorter , weaker, etc.) (Olweus, 2006). Bullying is not always explicit, i.e. there is not only physical or verbal violence (direct bullying); there is also a form of psychological violence (indirect bullying) which is probably far worse since, more subtle and pervasive, it has a greater impact on the life of the victim because it is mainly based on defamation and isolation of the intended victim, with the goal of making “scorched earth” around her (Olweus, 2006).

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) can be a valid support, together with actions of a more practical nature, for boys who are victims of bullying, through work aimed at modifying what REBT calls dysfunctional thoughts, which have the characteristic of being so rooted, rigid and automatic that they do not allow reality to be interpreted objectively. Using REBT can help to see more clearly how thought influences emotion and consequently determine behavior. It is precisely thanks to this awareness and targeted work that it is possible to change the inevitably negative thoughts of the victim of bullying, or of anyone who finds themselves in similar situations.

Therefore, it is possible to start thinking differently with reference to oneself and the reality one is experiencing and, while not underestimating it, one can learn to face it in a less destructive way.

Finally, it stimulates you to train in acceptance, understood not as passive resignation, but as a push to try to change what can be objectively modified, accepting, on the other hand, what that cannot be objectively modified, especially oneself and one’s own characteristics.

Lastly, behavioral interventions are useful for improving the relational skills of those who are bullied: among these, for example, there is communication training, aiming to avoid using an aggressive and/or passive style, using instead, of assertive communication, which allows you to express your emotions and opinions clearly and effectively without bullying or being bullied. This helps improve relationships and, therefore, develop a sense of self-efficacy and increase self-esteem.

It is therefore a very flexible and useful approach for those who are victims of bullying and, more generally, for all those who want to embark on a path aimed at improving their personal well-being.
Dr. Arianna Polato

Psychologist Psychotherapist


Dr. Letizia De Mori

Owner psychologist

British Psychological Society


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