Individual Counselling: Secondary School (Social Worker Strategies)

Pure Victim

Keung's case

Keung was studying alone in a quiet area of the school when a few classmates suddenly ran up, snatched his new glasses and started playing with them. When Keung implored them to give his glasses back, they threw them onto the table and broke them. Just at that moment, a teacher passed by and asked Keung what happened, but he was too afraid to tell the truth, and only said that he broke the glasses because of his own clumsiness.

Keung's considerations and actions
  • Regards the outside world as terrible and uncontrollable: Keung thinks the outside world is terrible and he cannot change anything, despite his efforts.
  • Negative and passive thoughts: he often thinks that he is bullied because of his own incompetence, and therefore there is no point in complaining to the teacher.
  • Sense of helplessness: he feels that teachers, parents, and social workers cannot help him to change the situation.
  • Depression: he always blames himself.
  • Passive and withdrawn: even if the teacher shows concern for him, he does not tell the teacher about the bullying.
  • Keeps silent: he does not dare to speak proactively in front of different people.
Social network
  • Avoids interacting with others: Keung would rather stay at home so that he does not have to face the outside world.
  • Being looked down on: the classmates who bully him know that he will not fight back, so it is easy to pick on him.

Evaluate irrational beliefs (To explore the strategies that they used before to cope with bullying incidents and their irrational beliefs.)

  • Evaluate their irrational beliefs by understanding the strategies that they had used before to cope with social problems.
  • Explore their ideal interpersonal relationship, which will help them to generate the motivation and optimism to initiate the change to a healthier mindset.

To understand the development of passive victims’ irrational beliefs, it is necessary for social workers to explore their irrational beliefs from their past experience of being bullied, and to understand what methods they have used and what consequences they have faced. For example, in this video demonstration, because Keung had not received any support or assistance on previous occasions he was bullied, he believed that the world must be uncontrollable and concluded that his actions would not help to solve this problem.

When counselling passive victims, social workers should give them extensive emotional support. This will enable the passive victim to view counselling as a positive social experience, and encourage them to be emotionally open and expressive. Meanwhile, to persuade students to make changes for themselves, social workers can help them to understand that their negative thoughts lead to serious negative consequence.

Dispute irrational beliefs.

  • Teach them about ‘I-message’, enhance their ability to express themselves.
  • Ask them to share their successful experiences in making change, to consolidate their rational beliefs.

The objectives of using ‘I-message’ are different between aggressive victims and passive victims. Aggressive victims use this skill to control their anger, while passive victims use it to express themselves and reduce their timidity. Passive victims need to practice ‘I-message’ continuously before they are successful in mastering this skill, and social workers should help them with this.

After passive victims have had successful experiences with these methods, social workers should applaud and recognise their efforts, thus reinforcing the positive changes they have made.

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