Therapeutic Techniques to Heal from Bullying

Two young girls bullying other young girl outdoors

Contributor: Libby Lyons, MSW, LCSW, CEDS, writer for Eating Disorder Hope.

Bullying can happen at any age and stage in our lives. It can be on the playground, in the workplace, and even through social media. We can connect with anyone at any time. We can see what our ‘friends’ are doing at any given hour through social media platforms.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children with mental health disorders are three times more likely to be identified as bullies, and typically the targeted victim of bullying only report bullying 1/3rd of the time. Bullying can interfere with social and emotional development, lead to lower self-esteem, increased isolation, depression, and in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts and completed suicide.

Defining Bullying

So how do we define bullying then? Bullying can be physical, verbal, relational, and electronic. Bullying must be aggressive, include an imbalance of power between the victim and bully, and be repetitive in nature. Bullies can go from being the bully, to the victim and vice versa across time and situations.

Young girls bulling another kid.For example, a person may be a victim in elementary school, and a bully in middle school. Bullying in the workplace can be experienced through exclusion, interpersonal conflict, gossip, and sexual harassment. School age bullying can be face-to-face and/or cyber-based through verbal, physical, and emotional attacks.

We know through mass education and media, that bullying has adverse effects for victim of bullying. So what do we do to help those who are being bullied? First and foremost victims of bullying need support. Support from a trusted individual who can help them gain increased self-confidence, untangled the negative thinking patterns, and learn to trust their peers and themselves again.

Effective Treatments for Victims

One of the most effective therapeutic techniques to helping victims is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This theory works with individuals on learning new ways to think, feel and ultimately change the way they respond to situations within their life. CBT works on improving self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as helps establish healthy boundaries in relationships and life.

Woman having a conversation with her therapist on couch in office

Another beneficial technique is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). This theory use mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance skills, and interpersonal relationship skills to help individuals become more aware of themselves, gain understanding of their emotions and reactions to their environment, as well as learn healthy boundaries and communication within relationships.

DBT helps the individual look at their own obstacles and barriers to personal growth and identity. This theory is also solution-focused and gives individuals skills to use immediately. Bullying can feel isolating and helpless, but with the help of a professional, children and adults alike can gain confidence and growth through healing. DBT and CBT can be powerful tools in assisting the victims of bullying.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Establishing healthy boundaries within relationship can be difficult? Have you set relationship boundaries before, what steps did you take?


Image of Libby Lyons and familyAbout the Author: Libby Lyons, MSW, LCSW, CEDS is a specialist in the eating disorder field. Libby has been treating eating disorders for 10 years within the St. Louis area, and enjoys working with individuals of all ages.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 25, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.