Bullying is a long-standing concern. However, recent neuroscience has allowed us a better insight into the impact of bullying on our brain and body. We can now see that the areas involved in the sensory experience of pain are activated during intense experiences of social rejection. This means that the brain interprets the emotional pain we are feeling as though damage were occurring to one’s physical body. Additionally, the overproduction of cortisol that can be released due to chronic state of fear can damage brain structure and impact learning and retention. These experiences can also shift our view of self and the world around us and if perpetual can become traits for how we respond in relationships throughout life. Research indicates that it's possible to observe symptomotology in victimized youth similar to that of individuals who've experienced chronic violence this includes a despairing acceptance of their victimization in the development of an attitude of self-reproach which may lead victims to maintain victim thinking and believe they deserve to be taunted teased and harassed.
The creative approaches to therapy that ATTCH uses such as art, play, and movement therapy are powerful tools for allowing victims, witnesses, and those exhibiting bullying behaviour to express themselves in a non-threatening way while regaining some control over their situation. These approaches also provide sensory relief as they are working at the implicit (sensory) level. The primary focus of our treatment is on creating a sense of safety. Through this we focus on awareness of body sensations, emotions, needs and shifting from a victim to survivor mind-set and experience.
When treating clients who have experienced chronic bullying therapists must also have a form awareness of trauma and its impact on the brain, body, and behaviour. Additionally, we know that it's not just the victim that experiences trauma. The victim, the witnesses, and the bully can all experience the themes of trauma (terror, powerlessness, hurt, fear, anger, revenge, victim thinking). An awareness of how to treat these themes in an effective manner is key to healing. All of ATTCH’s therapists have completed specialized training in attachment and trauma intervention to effectively provide relief and help children and youth present in a more confident manner. Lori Gill, CEO and Lead Trauma Therapist for ATTCH is also a Certified Trauma Specialist, Consultant, and Trainer for the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children (TLC) and offers evidence-based training for TLC to help professionals learn about the impact of trauma and how to effectively intervene at a sensory level.