In this day and age, social media can be our refuge. A space where we can share our thoughts, vent out our frustrations, and express ourselves when we cannot do so in the offline world. It is not always a safe place, though, for cyberbullying remains prevalent all over the globe.
Cyberbullying can be damaging to one’s mental health, and if it persists over an extended period of time, it may cause a person to develop a mental illness in the long run.
In a perfect online world, where peace and harmony are valued and prioritized on social media, cyberbullying would have been a strange word. However, the current situation is a far cry from this ideal. With the continuous advancement of technology and seamless discoveries to make our lives more convenient, it is alarming to think that harassing an online stranger has become just as accessible and all too easy.
That’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise that online therapy centered around helping cyberbullying victims has emerged. Before we get into the interventions and treatments for cyberbullying, let’s have a clear definition of what cyberbullying is first.
What Is Cyberbullying?
As defined by UNICEF, cyberbullying is bullying with the use of digital technologies. The rise of different social platforms has made cyberbullying more accessible to cyberbullies. Social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, which were initially created to be a safe place for people to express themselves through sharing posts, photos, videos, and thoughts, have become a hideout for cyberbullies.
There are different types of cyberbullying:
- Sending threats and mean messages to the targeted person through online messaging platforms
- Spreading rumors to embarrass the target using social media
- Posting private and personal information, including photos and videos of someone, on social media
- Pretending to be the targeted person, also known as impersonation
The continuous rise in numbers of cyberbullying is anticipated. 59% of U.S. teenagers have been a victim of cyberbullying, based on a study by the Pew Research Center. Unfortunately, cyberbullying also affects a great number of adults.
Adult cyberbullying is more common than you think. According to a study in 2019, young adults are the most vulnerable to cyberbullying, with 40.5% reporting that they had experienced cyberbullying. The results also showed that 24% of adults aged 26–35 and 15.1% aged 36–45 have been victims of adult cyberbullying.
Is Cyberbullying Therapy Really Needed?
The short answer is yes. Various studies have shown that there is a connection between exposure to cyberbullying and lower self-esteem. Moreover, cyberbullying victims have higher levels of depression symptoms and an increased likelihood of substance abuse, resulting in self-harm and even suicidal behavior.
Due to the connections found between suicidal behavior and cyberbullying, more and more research studies are emerging to contribute to the existing pool of research on cyberbullying. As cyberbullying draws more attention to the public due to its ever-increasing prevalence, how to deal with cyberbullying and be aware of the types of treatment available are crucial for the victim’s recovery.
What Is Cyberbullying Therapy Like?
Psychotherapy is known for improving symptoms of different mental illnesses across different ages. There are several types of psychotherapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT is the most widely used therapeutic approach. It can be used as cyberbullying therapy, as it is an effective way to help the individual identify their current source of distress and implement strategies to combat them.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
ACT is another type of therapy that is more focused on acceptance and mindfulness strategies to increase their flexibility when it comes to life stressors. The core processes included in ACT are fitting for an online counseling session. These are: defusion, acceptance, contact with the present moment, self as context, values, and committed action.
These core processes are especially helpful for cyberbullying situations. They help the victim realize the impact of harassment on their psychological well-being. This awareness is what would then drive them to take the steps to stop the bullying.
Although the focus of different psychological therapies is different, it is a must that a typical counseling session encourages open communication. The therapist will serve as your sounding board for any issues that you want to get solved, free of judgment and criticism. Their role is to listen to you attentively and take notes when necessary as you speak. Rest assured that whatever was discussed within the session will remain confidential.
The therapeutic alliance between the therapist and the client is determinant of the quality of the counseling sessions. By achieving this alliance, the client is more open to accepting and believing that recovery is possible.
Is Online Therapy for Cyberbullying Just as Effective?
Part of the advancement of technology includes therapies becoming more accessible through online counseling. People who have been victimized by cyberbullying are considered frequent internet users, making them socially isolated and prone to spending a significant amount of time online.
Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT) is an online therapy that victims of cyberbullying can find a lot of benefits from, as opposed to the more conventional in-person therapy. ICBT and online therapy, in general, have contributed considerably to reducing depression and anxiety symptoms and even the prevention of suicide attempts.
Many studies recognized that online therapy plays a huge role in combating mental illnesses remotely.
So Should I Try Cyberbullying Therapy?
Therapy, in general, is helpful, regardless of whether you suspect you may have a mental illness or not. We can all benefit from having talk therapy with a professional who can help us process our thoughts and emotions.
Having a no-filter session with a therapist where you can be vulnerable and honest without the fear of being judged or criticized can be the first step of your journey to mental well-being.
You don’t have to wait for things to get worse – you can schedule a cyberbullying therapy session right now.