Individual Counselling: Primary School (Social Worker Strategies)


This section illustrates how to use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to individually counsel a reactive aggressor. By watching these videos and instructions, social workers or counsellors will learn how to evaluate a student’s irrational beliefs and challenge his/her cognitive distortions.

Reactive aggressor

Sze’s case

Student A fainted during recess, and student B hurried to find the teacher to report the incident. On the way, B bumped into Sze accidentally, causing the drink Sze was holding to fall to the ground. Sze was very angry; she chased B and threw a pencil case at her.

Characteristics of reactive aggressor
  • Misinterprets the external cues
  • Hostile attributional bias
  • Cognitive distortion and being defensive
  • Poor problem-solving skills
  • Impulsive
  • Feels angry and loses temper easily
  • Feels depressed/anxious easily
  • Poor emotional control
  • Tends to use aggression as a mean to solve social conflicts
  • Displays aggressive behaviour with the intention of retaliation
  • Displays defensive response under provocation
Social network
  • Excluded by peers
  • Unpopular in peer groups
  • Poor social skills
  • Mistrusts others


  • Understand how the student perceives social information, and determine what kinds of social cues he/she fails to perceive. Determine the emotional weaknesses that distort his/her cognition.
  • Highlight his/her hostile attributional bias and explore his/her irrational beliefs
  • Afterwards, encourage the student to reflect on his/her own blind spots. Assist the student to consider other possible outcomes of anticipated events.

Dispute irrational beliefs and reconstruction

  • Help the student to understand how irrational beliefs lead to anger and impulsivity, how to change subjective feelings and impulsive behaviour and how to improve objectivity and calmness.
  • Train the student to strengthen his/her ability to consider things from different perspectives, and speculate about possible different results of the incidents.
  • Encourage him/her to participate in social services or activities to expand his/her social network.

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