How To Help Bullies Through School Counseling

A person who bullies is a typical type of person who has low self-esteem and uses a defense mechanism of projection. In psychology, it refers to a kind of behavior wherein negative feelings are thrown or displaced on a less threatening object or person. Usually, the person has a little understanding of oneself and inability to communicate. They tend to cover up their weaknesses by putting up a “cool guy kick-ass” type of attitude that usually deviates from the usual norms of society.  “No one consciously chooses or enjoys being a victim. But we can claim our power.” says Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT.


Despite our prejudice we have on bullieS, we should also take note that they are emotionally unstable. This may sound indifferent to some; nonetheless, there is a need to change our dealings with bullies. A lot of times, we find it hard to deal with them because we only focus on their rude behaviors and the victims that they bully.  “Bullies often target individuals who are perceived to be “different” in race, national origin, color, religion, appearance or gender expression.” says Rosalind S. Dorlen, PsyD.

Three-Way Approach 

Counseling can tremendously help in looking into the reasons why children bully. This process does not only entail the child or teenager undergo the sessions, but also the parents are involved wherein a thorough assessment is obtained regarding the family functioning and relationships within the family structure. After the initial encounter, the counselor or therapist will then walk through several strategies on how to resolve the identified problems.  

The school is also brought into the picture since most of the bullying incidents happen in the school premises. Administrators should continue to work with parents and the child towards positive behaviors. 

Strategies On How To Help Bullies 

From the journal article How to Help a Bully: Recommendations for Counseling the Proactive Aggressor, the authors cited interventions to implement in addressing the problem of children who bully. Here are the most effective actions to take: 

Offer Specific And Clear Behavioral Outlooks  


The school should be responsible for presenting a system that is sensitive to the bullying activities. By doing so, there is a clear understanding on the part of the children who bully that their actions entail grave consequences. School counselors can then affect positive change through behavior modification schemes including giving of rewards of compliance with obeying the expected behavior standards. 

Evade Any Form Of Debates and Arguments 

It is considered not to proceed arguing with the bully. They are driven to prove their behavior is right and is moved by unavoidable circumstances. The moment the action has been identified, it is best to stay firm and proceed with necessary counseling. 

Avoid Repetitious Or Standardized Responses 

One of the common mistakes of authorities is to give verbal warnings. However, these statements are already anticipated by the child; therefore, they know how to respond to maximize their benefits and lessen the personal cost. To counteract this, counselors suggest attaining understanding on how the child views the value of his behaviors and reward then works toward disciplinary actions. 

With Caution, Reinforce Positive Achievements 



Affirming changes and positive achievements towards a bullying behavior is one way to encourage the person to stop bullying. However, this can be tricky at times. Continue to observe the child on how he/she is handling affirmations. Some would take this as an opportunity to retaliate and continue to bully instead of changing the aggressive acts. 

“Giving a good response is more valuable but it has to be a neutral response.” says Jennifer Ryan, PsyD.

Don’t Drop Your Guard 

When you think that the child has changed because of continued changes in behavior, don’t be comfortable on this yet. Be more observant and take necessary actions as the child can turn this disciplinary action into a manipulating scheme. They would continue to ask for privileges and expect to be rewarded if good behavior is achieved