Updated: July 23, 2022

Bullying, a pervasive social issue, involves repeated aggressive behaviour aimed at causing harm, distress, or power imbalance. It inflicts emotional and physical pain on victims, affecting their self-esteem, mental health, and overall well-being, demanding collective efforts to foster empathy, understanding, and proactive measures against this harmful behaviour.

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What is Bullying?

Bullying is a form of aggressive behaviour that involves intentional harm, intimidation, or coercion towards others, often characterised by repeated incidents. Its detrimental impact on mental health and overall well-being cannot be understated. Bullying can happen at school, home, work, and even via the internet. Victims of bullying commonly experience emotional distress, anxiety, and depression as a result of the persistent harassment and humiliation they endure. The constant fear of being targeted and the social isolation inflicted by bullying can lead to a profound sense of helplessness, eroding self-esteem and confidence.


The mental health effects of bullying extend to the perpetrators themselves. Engaging in bullying behaviour can stem from underlying emotional issues, and the act of causing harm to others can contribute to feelings of guilt and internal turmoil for the bullies. These negative emotions may lead to a vicious cycle of aggression and further exacerbate their own mental health struggles. Furthermore, witnesses and bystanders of bullying incidents can also experience heightened stress and anxiety due to feelings of powerlessness and fear of becoming the next target.


Addressing bullying from a mental health perspective is crucial to breaking the cycle of harm. Creating safe and supportive environments, fostering empathy and understanding, and providing mental health resources for both victims and bullies can play a pivotal role in mitigating the long-term impact of bullying on mental well-being. By promoting awareness and intervention, we can strive towards a healthier and more compassionate society that nurtures the mental health of all its members.

What Are The Symptoms?

Symptoms For Bullies

Aggressive Behaviour: Bullies often exhibit aggressive behaviour towards others, such as physical, verbal, or cyberbullying.


Lack of Empathy: They may have difficulty understanding or showing empathy towards the feelings of their victims.


Problems at School: Bullies may have disciplinary issues and perform poorly academically.


Involvement in Risky Behaviours: Some bullies may engage in other harmful activities or substance abuse.


Need for Power and Control: They may seek to dominate and control others to boost their self-esteem.

Symptoms For Bystanders

Feelings of Helplessness: Bystanders may feel powerless to intervene or unsure about how to help.


Guilt and Shame: Witnessing bullying incidents can lead to feelings of guilt, especially if they didn’t take action to stop it.


Fear of Becoming a Target: Bystanders may fear becoming victims themselves if they speak up against the bully.

Symptoms For Victims Of Bullying

Emotional Distress: Victims may experience feelings of sadness, anxiety, fear, and hopelessness.


Physical Complaints: They may complain of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments due to the stress and anxiety caused by bullying.


Social Withdrawal: Victims may isolate themselves from friends and social activities to avoid further harm.


Decreased Academic Performance: The stress of being bullied can impact their ability to concentrate and perform well in school.


Changes in Sleep and Eating Patterns: Victims may have trouble sleeping or experience changes in appetite.


Low Self-Esteem: Bullying can erode their self-confidence and self-worth.

What Are The Causes?

Bullying is a complex behaviour that can have various underlying causes. While no single factor can fully explain why someone becomes a bully or why bullying occurs, several contributing factors have been identified:


Lack Of Empathy And Social Skills: Some individuals may have difficulty understanding or relating to the feelings of others, leading to a lack of empathy. Poor social skills can also contribute to inappropriate and aggressive behaviour as a way to interact with others.


Family Environment: Bullying behaviour can be influenced by experiences within the family. Children who witness aggression or violence at home may model such behaviour in other settings. Moreover, a lack of parental involvement, inconsistent discipline, or neglect may contribute to the development of bullying tendencies.


Peer Influence: Bullying can sometimes be a result of seeking validation or acceptance from peers. In certain social groups, engaging in aggressive behaviour may be seen as a way to gain popularity or maintain a dominant position.


Individual Characteristics: Some individuals may have personality traits that make them more prone to engage in bullying behaviour. These traits can include low self-esteem, a need for power and control, impulsivity, and difficulty managing anger.


School Environment: School settings with a lack of clear rules against bullying or a culture that tolerates aggressive behaviour can facilitate its occurrence. A lack of supervision in certain areas of the school, such as during recess or online interactions, can also contribute to bullying incidents.


Cyber Anonymity: The anonymity provided by the internet and social media can embolden individuals to engage in cyberbullying, as they may feel less accountable for their actions.


Societal Attitudes: Societal norms that condone aggression, violence, or discrimination can influence the prevalence of bullying. Lack of awareness about the seriousness of bullying and its impact may also contribute to its persistence.


It’s important to recognize that each individual case of bullying may have unique contributing factors, and often, multiple factors can interact to lead to this behaviour. Addressing bullying requires a comprehensive approach that involves addressing the root causes while also promoting empathy, education, and a culture of respect and kindness in schools and communities.

How Phinity Therapy Can Help

Helping someone who is being bullied or is a bully requires a thoughtful and individualised approach in therapy. The goals and strategies may differ depending on the role of the person involved.


For Someone Being Bullied:


Validation And Empathy: Our therapists will provide a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to share their experiences and emotions. Validating feelings and empathising with your struggles can help build trust and rapport.


Coping Skills: Teaching effective coping mechanisms to manage stress, anxiety, and emotional distress caused by bullying is crucial. This may include relaxation techniques, mindfulness practices, or assertiveness training.


Building Resilience: Working on building resilience and self-esteem can empower individuals to better handle bullying situations and reduce the impact of the bully’s actions.


Assertiveness and Communication: Role-playing and practicing assertive communication can help individuals develop skills to stand up to the bully or seek help from trusted others.


Social Skills Training: Improving social skills can help people develop positive relationships and increase their support network, making them less vulnerable to bullying.

For Someone Who is a Bully:


Understanding Behaviour: Our therapists will explore the underlying reasons for the bullying behaviour, helping individuals gain insight into their actions and their impact on others.


Empathy Development: Fostering empathy is essential in helping bullies understand the feelings and perspectives of their victims, promoting compassion and sensitivity.


Anger Management: Teaching healthy ways to manage anger and frustration can prevent bullies from resorting to aggressive behaviour as an outlet for their emotions.


Alternative Coping Strategies: Identifying and practicing non-harmful ways to cope with stress or difficult emotions can replace bullying behaviour.


Social Skills and Emotional Regulation: Enhancing social skills and emotional regulation can help individuals build healthier relationships and reduce impulsive reactions.

General Approaches:


Conflict Resolution: Teaching conflict resolution skills can help both bullies and victims find constructive ways to resolve conflicts without resorting to aggression.


Bystander Education: Addressing the role of bystanders in bullying situations and promoting their intervention can create a more supportive environment.


Family Involvement: Involving families in therapy can be beneficial, especially for young individuals, as it can address potential family dynamics contributing to bullying behaviour or the impact of bullying.


School Collaboration: Collaborating with educators and school staff to implement anti-bullying initiatives and ensure a safe school environment can complement therapeutic efforts.


The ultimate goal of therapy is to help individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms, improve their emotional well-being, and promote positive behaviours and relationships. Therapy can provide essential support in breaking the cycle of bullying, fostering empathy, and creating a positive and inclusive environment for everyone involved.

What Are The Causes?How Phinity Therapy Can Help


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