This chapter is written from the perspective of a practising occupational, health and counselling psychologist working as an independent consultant in a number of large organisations. My initial experience in developing organisational and employee interventions to address workplace bullying was in the British Post Office, where, as head of the employee support service I had the responsibility for providing psychosocial support for over 200,000 employees. A number of initiatives were developed in the Post Office including a peer support programme (Rains, 2001), employee assessment and support (Tehrani, 1996), and the establishment of a code of acceptable behaviour. Since leaving the Post Office I have been involved in helping organisations deal with workplace bullying through counselling bullies and the victims of bullying as well as working within the organisation to bring about the reconciliation of interpersonal conflict and bullying.
This chapter looks at the ways in which counsellors can be used to address some of the problems faced by employees affected by bullying. Where appropriate, illustrative case studies are provided. The first part of the chapter looks at the stages of helping victims of bullying, beginning with the psychological assessments, then a range of counselling interventions and finally a description of the importance of developing appropriate rehabilitation programmes. The second part of the chapter examines some of the issues surrounding the use of counselling as an intervention for addressing bullying at work. The difficulty in recognising who is the bully and who is the victim is also discussed. The chapter closes with a discussion of the main issues facing counsellors working to reduce the impact of bullying in the workplace.
The psychological impact of bullying has been shown to be damaging to the physical and mental health (Hoel et al., 1999), frequently resulting in