My Supervisor and mentor, Judy Todd died last Saturday from Pancreatic cancer. It was pretty sudden, and I am still managing the grief. I am going to post her picture for today to remember her and all the children and budding therapists that she has helped.
Last post I Interviewed Holli Kenley about her book, Cyber Bullying No More, and she gave so many good tips for therapists and parents I decided to write two posts. Today I want to focus on tips for therapists who are working with children and adolescents who have experienced cyber bullying. To read information about how parents can support their kids, visit “Cyber Bullying No More!, Parenting a High Tech Generation” Part 1: Tips for Parents with Holli Kenley.
What are some reasons you think kids use the Internet to bully other kids?
There are two main reasons why cyber bullying is so prevalent.
- Technology provides ‘anonymity’ for the cyber bully. This is really important. The cyber bully is distanced from the victim (no face to face connection), detached from the real word (identity protected) and disinhibited from the harm or hurt being inflicted on the victim. Thus, the cyber bully feels disconnected from the real world and his/her actions.
- Technology provides a “huge power differential” between the victim and the bully. The bully is able to effectuate his/her agenda with ease. An expansive audience and limitless victimization reinforce the bullying behavior, and the bully is emboldened because of the lack of accountability and overwhelming factors of reinforcement. Thus, the cyber bully feels empowered.
Research suggests that the main motivations for cyber bullying include:
- Revenge or retaliation
- Power and control
- Cool and fun
- Use as a defense mechanism (insecure, angry, jealous, mean)
It is interesting to note that Albert Bandura’s current research suggests that cyber bullying is a behavioral manifestation of the ‘process of moral disengagement,’ largely learned and reinforced by the factors of anonymity and power differential. Group work focusing on the areas of restorative justice, with a heavily embedded empathy component is strongly recommended.
How do you feel a therapist could help a child who is involved in Cyber bullying? Either as a victim or the bully?
Many children take on the roles of both cyber victim and cyber bully (cyber bully victim). It is important to assess for both roles and their involvement in each. During the intake process, it is extremely important to conduct a thorough 5Axis Diagnosis, paying special attention to Axis I – Clinical Disorders. Also, with both victims and bullies, assess for thoughts of suicide and homicide (Duty to Report and Duty to Warn).
Here are three interventions for each.
For a child who is being cyber victimized, remember the 3 “S”:
- Safety Net – Implement safety measures and develop a step-by-step plan for the victim who is in danger of harming him/herself or others (victims are more like to carry a weapon than bullies). Pay attention to levels of depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behaviors. Implement technological safety measures as well. Put a strong ‘net’ around this child!
- Support – Believe and validate the child and his/her feelings. Listen, empathize, and develop a support system for the child. Let the victim know that he/she is not alone.
- Social Skills Development – Many victims are feeling powerless. Either through individual or group counseling, working on assertive communication and self- empowerment skills is extremely important.
For a child who is cyber bullying, remember the 3 “C’s”:
- Consequences –Remember that the goal with the cyber bully is to change the behavior. Research suggests that punishment by itself does not work, nor does solely taking the technology away. There should be appropriate consequences that correlate with degree of severity of bullying. (One exception would be if there is a duty to report given the laws within each community or state.) Making meaningful amends to the victim or acts of restorative justice are highly recommended.
- Contract - A Family Online Agreement should be implemented at once with clear guidelines on appropriate use, rules, and expectations. Whether one is in place or not, there are grounds for restricting usage of technology for a designated period of time. During this time, the child must demonstrate accountability and responsibility for his/her behaviors. Frequent monitoring is mandatory.
- Counseling – It is extremely important to perform a ‘needs assessment’ with the cyber bully. The motivations for bullying vary widely; and thus, effective interventions do as well. Research suggests that group counseling with an emphasis on empathic skill building is highly successful in reversing bullying behaviors.
Tell about other publications that are available, or that you are working on
Resources on Cyber Bullying:
- One of the best online sites for references is Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) – www.fosi.org . There are all kinds of tools, downloads, materials, etc. available for counselors, therapists, educators, and families.
- Another excellent reference is Cyber Kids, Cyber Bullying, Cyber Balance (Trolley & Hanel, 2010).
Other Publications by Holli Kenley
- The PMS Puzzle: a recovery book based on my own struggle with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
- Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace With, a self-help book addressing recovery from all kinds of betrayal.
- two e-singles: Betrayal-Proof Your Relationship: What Couples Need to Know and Do
- Cyber Bullying no More: Parenting A High Tech Generation.
- My newest book is Mountain Air: Relapsing and Finding the Way Back…One Breath at a Time, addressing recovery from any type of relapse.
- I conduct workshops about cyber bullying to parents and at educational workshops and at therapeutic/recovery conferences.
- Recently, a small group of community members and I participated in a two day Valley Wide Anti-Bullying Outreach Event which will take place August 29th- 30th , 2013 in my hometown of Prescott , AZ. As part of the event, we will screaned the “Bully Movie’ and we had guest speaker Kirk Smalley, whose family was profiled in the movie, speak to several schools and at an open community forum. Mr. Smalley’s organization – Stand For The Silent – is an international movement of change – an outgrowth in remembrance of his son Ty, who took his own life at 11 years old after years of relentless bullying.
I started this interview by saying that cyber bullying (and bullying) is a family issue, a community issue, and a societal issue. Yes, parents must do their part, but so must we all.
Thank you Holli for your time and expertise on the important subject of Cyber Bullying.
To purchase Cyber Bullying No More, please visit: Amazon.com or other major and independent book sellers.
To read more about Holli and her work, please visit her website
“Cyber Bulling No More: Parenting a High Tech Generation,” by, Hollie Kenley is a practical guide for parents to help navigate the issue of cyber bullying with their children, both victims and bullies. You can read my review of her book on Amazon.
The issue of how to teach our children how to be responsible with technology is a hot topic for parents that I work with (and in my own house!), so I know I will be referring parents to this book.
I interviewed Holli and there was so much to say that I have separated it into two posts. Today we will focus on the background of the book, and tips for parents on how to help their children deal with cyber bullying if it occurs.
Tell us about your background.
My first profession was as a middle and high school humanities teacher for almost 30 years. During that time, I returned to graduate school to become a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. I counseled in a faith-based counseling center before moving into private practice. Early on, I was drawn to the areas of abuse, trauma and betrayal, working with both individuals as well as couples. Later on, my work became specialized in the area of sexual abuse recovery.
What inspired you to write Cyber Bullying No More?
As a teacher, I was disturbed by the bullying behaviors that I witnessed at school. With the advancements in technology and the birth of a new type of bullying – cyber bullying – I was shocked by its prevalence and its potency.
In 2006, when I started hearing about young people such as Megan Meier taking their lives because of relentless cyber bullying, I remember saying to myself, “Enough is enough! This must stop!” It was time to action and I wanted to do something to help. And from there, Cyber Bullying No More: Parenting A High Tech Generation(link) was created. It’s all about how to protect and defend your children from this potentially deadly experience.
Who will benefit from this book?
Parents/guardians and children will benefit from this book! I wanted to give busy parents them some straight forward strategies on how to communicate with their children about cyber bullying and how to implement practical steps to safeguard their children.
Educators, counselors, and therapists could also use this book as an educational as well as therapeutic tool with their students, families, and clients.
What age group do you think deals with cyber bullying the most?
Early research indicated that cyber bullying was more prevalent in the middle school years; but a vast majority of the surveys administered were at that grade level. Current research suggests that cyber bullying is problematic at all ages, with an increase correlating with more technological proficiency. Today, it is estimated that one in three children will experience cyber bullying (in some form) during his/her school years. Children with special needs as well as GLTB youth are more highly targeted.
What do you think is the most challenging part for kids involved in cyber bullying? For Parents?
Kids who are being cyber victimized are fearful of reporting because of retaliation. Victims believe that they won’t be believed and that no one will or can do anything about it. So, they won’t tell and continue to be victimized for long periods of time. They show feelings of isolation, fear, and depression. They are often highly anxious and resort to unhealthy behaviors to self- soothe. Out of frustration and fear, it is common for a victim to also take on the role of a cyber bully.
The most challenging part for parents/guardians is that they don’t know what to do or where to begin. In my opinion, they often turn to the schools to fix it out of their own fear and frustration. This can be one step in the process, but it cannot be the only step. Cyber bullying is an epidemic anti-social behavior that becomes a family issue, a community issue, and a societal issue. We must all do our part.
What are your top three tips for parents about how to protect a child from Cyber Bullying?
‘Protect’ is a key word. When I use this word, I am referring to methods that will help ‘safeguard against cyber bullying’. My top three tips for protection are the following:
- Implement a “Family Online Safety Contract”. A free download is available at www.fosi.org/resources/html . It is mandatory that parents must begin talking to their children about how to use technology responsibly as early as possible. There is no better way of explaining the rules and expectations about the use of technology than having a written agreement that everyone understands and respects.
- Parents must know why they are giving children access to a piece of technology or giving them permission to utilize the technology. Think about their age, what they can handle or not, and go slowly. Let your children demonstrate success and responsibility before giving them more usage and freedoms.
- Parents must monitor the use of the technology! No, I am not kidding! Remember, our children can go anywhere in the cyber world at any time. Get to know your children’s Net Neighborhood just as you would their school environment or other social groups. Spend time with them; learn with them; begin to communicate and connect with them about their online life.
A small group of community members and I have been working on a two day Valley Wide Anti-Bullying Outreach Eventwhich will take place August 29th- 30th , 2013 in my hometown of Prescott , AZ. As part of the event, we will be screening the “Bully Movie’ and we will have guest speaker Kirk Smalley, whose family was profiled in the movie, speak to several schools and at an open community forum. Mr. Smalley’s organization – Stand For The Silent – is an international movement of change – an outgrowth in remembrance of his son Ty, who took his own life at 11 years old after years of relentless bullying
The life of a play therapist can be pretty hectic sometimes, especially if you throw in a family, social life, and managing your own problems. These are 5 things that I do that help me to be a better play therapist.
Create a Set Work Schedule
I wake up and each day my schedule is different. I work many after school hours, mainly afternoons and evenings. I set regular hours that I schedule clients to help stay organized and balance between work and family life.
Have Go-to Creative Activities for My Clients
Before my clients arrive, I review notes, and plan the session. However, children can often be unpredictable. I remain flexible about what a child needs that day, so I have go-to activities always prepared to meet their changing needs. I use www.angriesout.com, www.creativecounseling101.com, www.lianalowenstein.com, www.pinterest.com for ideas.
Create a Trusting Relationship with Caregivers
If it’s my first session with a family, I meet with caregivers to identify the main reasons for seeking therapy. I involve parents weekly in sessions to discuss behavior issues, family stressors, child’s progress in therapy, and how to implement changes at home.
Consult with Other Counselors
Sometimes I have been working with a client for a long time, or a child has a particularly complex case. If I am stuck on a case, I seek out another therapist’s perspective to learn new ideas for a case. I have relationships with colleagues and mentors that I trust when I seek out another opinion.
Practice Self Care
I hear troubling stories, from sexual abuse, to neglect, to loss of a loved one. It can sometimes feel exhausting. In order to prevent burnout I participate in activities to relieve stress. I find journaling, being social, reading a novel, watching movies with my husband, going to church on a regular basis, and also writing to help.
I love that I witness children heal everyday, and families change. I use these techniques to remain balanced, focused, and keep the child’s needs first.
How do you survive as a play therapist or in your chosen career? Leave a comment below.
The recent tragedy in Boston may leave parents wondering how to address devestating news with young children. While I want so much to shield my own child from these horrible disasters in the news, it is realistic that he may hear about it from some other sources. I think Mr. Rogers addresses these issues the best.
“Olivia never asked to have a disease like Biliary Atresia. It made her liver sick and only a transplant will make her better. After waiting several months and close to losing hope, she gets the call she’s been waiting for. The journey of her live is about to begin.”
Interview With Jennifer Gladen:
Hi Jill. Thanks for taking the time to discuss Angel Donor with your readers.
What inspired you to write Angel Donor?
My daughter, Jackie, was born with a liver disease called Biliary Atresia and later needed a liver transplant. She was in and out of hospitals since she was three weeks old. I remember wishing there was something I could read to her to help her get through these times. That’s when the idea for Angel Donor was born. It wasn’t until years later that I was able to bring myself to write it.
What age group is it appropriate for?
Angel Donor fits well with Pre-K and the primary grades.
What were some of the challenges with writing on this topic?
It was very hard to write the truth about Biliary Atresia, liver disease and transplants but at the same time not be too scary for children. Especially since this book is meant to be comforting and something children can identify with.
What is Biliary Atresia?
Biliary Atresia is a childhood liver disease. Children are born with a liver that has blocked bile ducts, which in turn scars the liver and causes infection and more liver damage. Because of liver damage and the bile ducts not draining properly, jaundice (a yellowing of the skin) occurs. Without treatment, the liver can fail.
How is it diagnosed and what kind of treatment would a child with this issue need?
Usually Biliary Atresia is diagnosed when a baby is just a few weeks old. They are jaundiced and don’t eat well. If Biliary Atresia is suspected, the doctor will order blood tests, X-rays, and a liver biopsy.
There is no cure for Biliary Atresia. The initial treatment is to perform a surgery to restore the bile flow to the bile ducts outside the liver. Some patients do well with this treatment but most children with this diagnosis need a liver transplant because gradual liver damage continues to develop.
How can this affect a child and his or her family emotionally?
I think different children handle this situation in different ways. They feel a range of emotions. There are a bunch of hospital visits, emergencies and a host of experiences, which can make a child anxious. For example, my daughter Jackie didn’t like the highway for the longest time because when we went on the highway it usually meant we were going to the hospital. However, in our experience my daughter seemed to understand the “bad stuff”, i.e: needles, IVs, etc were to help get her better. My advice is during hospital stays, take advantage of your Child Life Specialists (http://www.childlife.org ) They help the child handle what is going on psychologically when a child is in the hospital.
In my book Angel Donor, Olivia is painting a picture in the playroom. Usually a large playroom like that is run by Child Life specialists. My daughter knows many Child Life Specialists. They helped her understand the medical procedures. Jackie used pretend play where she put an IV into her doll. Her favorite, however, was painting and art. All these activities make the hard times easier to deal with.
The emotional effects on the rest of the family are just as tough. Parents and siblings are worried about the child. Routines are disrupted. Parents of more than one child are torn between their responsibilities of being with the child in the hospital and being with the rest of their children.
What advice would you give to parents whose children need organ transplant?
I have a bunch of advice I’ve collected over the last ten years. The first is to ask, ask, ask. Ask questions when you don’t understand what is going on with your child. Also if you research online about the disease, be sure to talk to your child’s doctor. Not everything we see online is 100% fact. And your doctor knows your child.
Get support. This is what kept me sane . There are groups and websites designed to offer support, information and advice. Again, the information is not mean to replace your doctor’s advice. Always go to them when there is a problem or a question about your child’s medical care. Having said that, these groups are filled with other parents who have “been there”.
Two of my favorite support websites (also listed in the back of Angel Donor) are: Children’s Liver Association for Support Services (CLASS KIDS) – http://www.classkids.org and Liver Families – www.liverfamilies.net
What tips could you give a therapist on how to support a child and his or her family with this issue?
I think a therapist could do many of the things a Child Life Specialist might so, such as the medical play techniques or draw about their feelings. Jackie loved to pretend to put an IV in my arm. She continued doing that long after she came home from her hospital stays.
Where is Angel Donor available for purchase?
You can get Angel Donor by visiting:
Barnes and Noble
You can also order autographed copies at my website.
What is your blog/website address?
What other books have you written?
A Star in the Night was my first book. It is about David, who makes his way home on Christmas Eve and sees this is no ordinary night. Accompanied by a shimmering star and some tough decisions, David encounters three experiences that will change his view of Christmas forever.
Teresa’s Shadow – Teresa’s Shadow isn’t just a story about bedtime and monsters. It’s about fear, friendship and kindness. One night at bedtime Teresa discovers Corky, a furry visitor, in her room. Corky is no ordinary monster. In fact he seems just as scared as Teresa. Teresa soon realizes she must help Corky get home.
When you are not writing, what else do you do?
I work full time as a teacher at a child care center in addition to taking care of my three children.
What writing projects are you working on right now?
I have 2 other books I’m finishing up. Stay tuned…
Read the Most Recent Review of Sam Feels Better Now! and Interactive Story for Children.
I am always looking for ways to explain anxiety to clients in a way that they will understand. I use a lot of stories in therapy because I love the simple way that children’s books present difficult issues. That is why I am glad to have read Please Explain “Anxiety” to Me by Laurie Zelinger, PhD, MS, RPT-S &; Jordan Zelinger, Illustrated by: Elisa Sabella. It begins by using dinasaurs to explain the “fight or flight” response and then relates what they needed to survive with the human fight or flight response. It uses easy to understand terms to help the reader to identify signs of anxiety and understand why people experience anxiety. I have read this story to adult and child clients who are dealing with post traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders. The pictures are colorful and help explain the story visually. I like how it uses a simple illustration and clear explanations of anxiety and how it affects a person. The illustrations are colorful and add to the content of the book. I definitely recommend this book to therapists and parents who need to communicate what anxiety is using concise language.
To Purchase Please Explain “Anxiety” To Me, visit your favorite bookseller:
Barnes and Noble:Available in paperback and Nook format
Amazon: Available in paperback, hardcover and kindle
Loving Healing Press
You can visit Laurie’s website and see the other books she has written and learn more about her services and background as a play therapist. I look forward to seeing future children’s books from this author.
An interesting article on how to differentiate between normal pre-school aged tantrums and something that is a clue that something more is going on.