Relationship Issues (including Bullying and Domestic Violence)

Relationship IssuesIndividuals often struggle with relationships, whether they are with family members, partners, peers, or friends. Relationship problems often lead people to experience confusion, jealousy, anger, sadness, anxiety, distrust, intimacy issues, low self-esteem, guilt, and helplessness.

Individual, couple, dyad, or family therapy sessions in a safe environment with a third party present to mediate are often helpful. Individuals are first taught social and assertiveness skills so they can communicate their thoughts/feelings effectively. Once these skills are learned, individuals are encouraged to engage in open communication about the presenting problem. Once the presenting problem (often maladaptive pattern of thinking or behavior) is identified, the parties involved can then work towards a resolution. In the case of familial conflict, it is often beneficial to work with caregivers so they can develop a better understanding of what is motivating their child’s behavior and learn alternative strategies to manage this behavior.

  • What is Bullying and how can it be treated?

Bullying, or the “use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others,” is a widely recognized problem. Some examples of bullying include: intimidating; kicking or hitting; teasing or name-calling; spreading rumors; posting inappropriate photos or comments on a social network; vandalizing possessions; or intentionally excluding someone from a social activity. Being a victim of bullying can result in difficult emotions such as fear, anger, shame, and isolation. When an individual is being bullied, treatment should immediately focus on creating a safety plan to keep that individual safe (e.g., ensuring the individual has an adequate support network). Afterwards, work should be done around normalizing the individual’s feelings, teaching the individual assertiveness skills, and using thought restructuring techniques as necessary to improve the individual’s sense of self and world view.

  • What is Domestic Violence and how can it be treated?

Domestic Violence (DV), sometimes called “battering” or “intimate partner violence,” is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. DV can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, economic abuse, and/or sexual abuse. Abusers use threats, intimidation, isolation, and other behaviors to gain and maintain power over their victims. DV occurs in same-sex relationships and men can be victims as well. When an individual discloses that he/she is in a DV relationship, the first course of action in therapy is to establish a safety plan to ensure the individual is safe. Afterwards, work should be done around normalizing the individual’s feelings, providing psychoeducation around DV and the “cycle of violence,” teaching the individual positive coping skills including thought restructuring techniques to enhance his/her self-esteem after months or years of abuse, gradually helping the individual process the abuse, and teaching assertiveness skills to empower the individual to take control of his/her life.