LinkedinTwitterThe DetailsConnectBlog Facebook Meet the TherapistHome For Writers

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dear Jeannie: Overcoming Bullying and Teens in Therapy

Dear Jeannie,

What would be needed to overcome the consequences of almost a lifetime of being the victim of bullying (not the horrific kind, but ongoing "bitchery" and exclusion)? My 60+ MC can now take early retirement to escape from workplace bullying, and she plans to move to a new, larger city. However, "starting over" would probably be extremely difficult because of emotional baggage—low self esteem, general loss of confidence, shyness, and poor social skills. Also, she has absolutely no desire to talk to a therapist (due to a bad experience many years ago).

Budding Writer

Dear Budding Writer,

Your case is an interesting one, as your protag is 60+, not the typical age we think about when we conjure up images of bullying. But lets face it, older women can be catty. And no better place than at work to do so, it seems. So you're MC has been facing snotty looks, rude comments, and general bitchiness from her coworkers for years. Years. So don't underestimate the allure, the excitement, that she'd have at starting over...getting away from all that she's known, going someplace where she's unknown and has a clean slate. It'd be similar to bullies, unpopular high school teens breaking out of that mold when they go to college. Yes, her self-esteem is damaged, but she could flourish in the right environment, so take careful attention to where you end up placing her. Best of luck!

Dear Jeannie,

   My character is a teenager who sees a therapist because he's struggling with both the death of his sister and physical injuries from a car accident. He's been sabotaging his own recovery.
   How might a teenage boy act about seeing a therapist? I assume he'd be embarrassed at seeming weak. Grief over his sister and that he's not expected to fully recover physically so he's given up. Not sure what that would look like. At this point, it's been over a year but he just started seeing a therapist in her home (or is that only on TV?). I really don't know anything about therapy sessions, so any insight would be helpful.

Teen Trauma n' Drama

Dear Teen Trauma,

Therapists do see patients in their home. However, the ones that I know (i.e., the smart ones) always have a separate entrance/exit or a mother-in-law unit where they do the actual sessions, so that their home is separate from their office. How he would respond to therapy is entirely up to you. I've seen teen boys who had no issues at all walking in my office, and I've had some who would rather have tweezed their nose hairs. Either, or, some of one, some of the other...kinda depends on his personality. As to what goes on in therapy session, I did a post here on that subject. It should give you lots of ideas. If you are interested in the variety of grief reactions, I'd suggest you grab my Writer's Guide to Grief for $3. (sorry...shameless plug, but it truly does have all the info you need). Good luck to you!

Leave a comment below, Sleepless in Seattle-style, and I'll get to your questions in my next Dear Jeannie column.