May 3rd, 2016

Jessi Eden Brown, WBI Coach for Bullied Targets Featured in Counseling Today magazine


The cover story of Counseling Today magazine is about bullying. A significant portion of that article, written by Laurie Meyers, features an interview with WBI’s telephone coach for bullied targets, Jessi Eden Brown. Jessi maintains a private practice in Seattle in addition to continuing to provide coaching for targets who seek her advice after discovering her services posted at this WBI website.

Jessi is the most expert advisor to targeted individuals in the U.S. Her fees are inexpensive and worth every penny. Time precludes offering free advice, so please don’t insult her and ask. [Neither can WBI offer free advice by phone as it did for 18 years.] Here is Jessi’s information page.

An excerpt from

Fertile Grounds for Bullying
Counseling Today, April 21, 2016
By Laurie Meyers

Bullying isn’t confined to childhood or adolescence. Adults can experience bullying too, particularly in the workplace. Bullying in the workplace involves less obvious behavior than does school bullying and can be almost intangible, says Jessi Eden Brown, a licensed professional counselor and licensed mental health counselor with a private practice in Seattle.

“Bullying in the workplace is a form of psychological violence,” says Brown, who also coaches targets of workplace bullying through the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), an organization that studies and attempts to prevent abusive conduct at work. “Although popular media theatrically portray the workplace bully as a volatile, verbally abusive jerk, in actuality, the behaviors tend to be more subtle, insidious and persistent.”

Instead of shoving and name-calling, Brown says, workplace bullying includes behavior such as:

– Stealing credit for others’ work
– Assigning undue blame
– Using public and humiliating criticism
– Threatening job loss or punishment
– Denying access to critical resources
– Applying unrealistic workloads or deadlines
– Engaging in destructive rumors and gossip
– Endeavoring to turn others against a person
– Making deliberate attempts to sabotage someone’s work or professional reputation

“It’s the fact that these behaviors are repeated again and again that makes them so damaging for the target,” she explains. “The cumulative effects and prolonged exposure to stress exact a staggering toll on the overall health of the bullied individual.”

What’s more, those bullied in the workplace often stand alone, Brown notes. “While the motivating factors may be similar between workplace bullying and childhood bullying, the consequences for the bully and the target are unmistakably different,” she says. “In childhood bullying, the institution — the school — stands firmly and publicly against the abuse. Teachers, staff, students and administrators are thoroughly trained on how to recognize and address the behavior. Students are given safe avenues for reporting bullying. Identified bullies are confronted by figures of authority and influence — teachers, administrators, groups of peers, parents. When the system works as intended, there are consequences for the bully, as well as resources and support for the target.”

Brown continues, “In the workplace, bullying receives far less attention and focus. Management may fail to appropriately label the bully’s behavior as being abusive, especially if it doesn’t violate the law. Some employers recognize the problem and still choose to turn a blind eye. And even worse, there are some companies that actively encourage ‘weeding out the weak,’ whereby successful bullies are rewarded with promotions, bonuses, extravagant gifts and other incentives. After counseling and coaching more than 3,000 targets of workplace bullying over the years, believe me, I’ve heard it all.”

The consequences can be devastating. “There is a significant body of research linking workplace bullying to physical, mental, social and economic health harm for the bullied target,” Brown notes. “Hundreds of empirical studies have linked repeated exposure to stress, including stress originating from emotional and psychological sources, to severe physical ailments, such as cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal problems, immunological impairment, diabetes, adverse neurological changes, disorders of the skin, higher levels of cortisol leading to organ damage, musculoskeletal pain and disorders, and more.”

Workplace bullying has also been linked to panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, substance abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder, Brown continues.

Brown began specializing in counseling clients who have experienced workplace bullying after going through the experience herself in two different positions. “Both times were painful and deeply confusing,” she says. “I seriously considered leaving the counseling profession after the second experience.”

However, a friend who was doing web design for WBI introduced her to psychologists Gary and Ruth Namie, the founders and directors of the institute. The Namies were looking for a professional coach and offered Brown the job. As she worked with those who had been bullied, she began to integrate her experiences into her private counseling practice.

“The vast majority of my clients present as capable, accomplished professionals with a documented history of success in the workplace,” she says. “At some point in their careers, they encounter the bully and everything changes. Under constant attack, belittled and sabotaged, the once-competent, assured worker may begin to question her abilities and role at work. She tries everything she can think of to remedy the problem but finds few working solutions. Mounting stress starts to take its toll and spills over into other areas of life. Throughout this process, many targets fall victim to self-blame. Deep confusion, shame, anger and exhaustion are common at this stage. … This seems to be when most clients discover my services.”

Brown says the first step toward helping clients who are being bullied is to identify what they are experiencing — workplace bullying and psychological violence. Naming the behavior helps clients frame and externalize their experiences by realizing that they are not creating or imagining the problem, she explains.

“Encouraging the client to prioritize [his or her] health comes next,” Brown says. “Working closely with other health care providers is essential in situations where the individual’s health has been severely compromised.”

“It is imperative that the counselor promote the client’s self-care and turn attention toward enhancing [his or her] social support network,” she continues. “This may mean helping the client figure out a way to take time off from work, teaching new coping skills and encouraging time spent with loved ones — time that is deliberately not focused on recounting the situation at work.”

“Targeted workers may choose to file formal or informal complaints to unions, the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission], the bully’s boss, ethics hotlines or professional boards,” Brown says. “Although there is no legal protection against bullying in the United States, some workers find grounds for harassment, discrimination, constructive discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, wrongful termination or other legal claims.”

According to Brown, WBI research indicates that once targeted by workplace bullying, there is a 77.7 percent likelihood that the individual will lose his or her job due to resignation (voluntary or forced) or termination. A 2014 study conducted by WBI found that 60 percent of bullied workers were women and that men were more than twice as likely as women to act as bullies (69 percent versus 31 percent). However, when women exhibited bullying behavior, they were also more likely to bully other women — 68 percent of female bullies’ targets were also female.

Counselors can help clients who experience workplace bullying to consider their options, starting with whether to stay in their current job or leave. “Many targeted workers choose to transfer or quit just to escape the abuse,” Brown says. “The decision to leave on one’s own terms can be empowering and frequently results in better emotional health than being fired or laid off due to the bullying.”

Brown believes that counselors are in a unique position to help those who are bullied at work. “First, and most importantly, we can believe them when they tell us about the mistreatment at work,” she says. The stress and exhaustion that targets of workplace bullying endure are often isolating and paralyzing, Brown points out, adding that it is generally the bully’s goal to disempower the target.

“Even when they do speak up, targets of workplace bullying tell me that their employers, family and friends often do not believe them or understand their level of distress,” she says. “As counselors, we can listen to their story, convey a sense of belief and offer a distinctly different response than the target has received thus far. … Do not blame the client for the abuse [he or she is] experiencing.”

In most cases, Brown says, the target has done nothing to deserve the mistreatment; the bully chooses the target, timing and tactics, and the targeted individual may have very little control or influence over these factors. The responsibility to stop the abusive behavior ultimately rests with the employer. In these instances, just teaching clients to be more assertive or to stand up to the bully is not the answer, Brown emphasizes.

###

To seek personal advice from Jessi Eden Brown.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016 at 9:51 am and is filed under Bullying & Health, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Products & Services, WBI Education, WBI in the News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.



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  1. DETRA R HUNTER says:

    The abuse I suffered in my work place also constituted criminal violations. However, I was employed by a state agency and no other state or county agency would enforce their laws against my employer. I suffered breakdowns; hospitalizations; etc. Subsequently I received a 100% service connected disability due to PTSD. The work place bullying correlated to abuse suffered during my marriage during my time in the military. I still have time to file a disability lawsuit but my mind isn’t right so it’s difficult to put the notes, audio recordings and pictures together.

    Never in my life have I encountered such an evil group of people; four primary individuals. I was not their first victim in the department. But I was treated more severely because I tried to stand up for my self. My ADA workplace accommodations were violated; while working from home my office computer would be turned off so I couldn’t log on and work. It was also found unplugged by other coworkers. When in the office, the male cohort, of the group, would refer to me as a bitch, a whore, etc, grab his penis and laugh with one of the other women as I had to pass his cubicle to get to the copier.
    I have recordings of my trying to get help from other agencies and them lying to protect ‘Texas’. Can’t finish

  2. DETRA R HUNTER says:

    The abuse I suffered in my work place also constituted criminal violations. However, I was employed by a state agency and no other state or county agency would enforce their laws against my employer. I suffered breakdowns; hospitalizations; etc. Subsequently

    Never in my life have I encountered such an evil group of people; four primary individuals. I was not their first victim in the department. But I was treated more severely because I tried to stand up for my self. My ADA workplace accommodations were violated; while working from home my office computer would be turned off so I couldn’t log on and work. It was also found unplugged by other coworkers. When in the office, the male cohort, of the group, would refer to me as a bitch, a whore, etc, grab his penis and laugh with one of the other women as I had to pass his cubicle to get to the copier.
    I have recordings of my trying to get help from other agencies and them lying to protect ‘Texas’.
    I had a diagnosis of depression which was well controlled. At one point I was the top producing auditor in our department; which was one of the reasons I became a target. Before working for the Texas Workforce Commission, I had never had a diagnosis of PTSD or been hospitalized in a mental hospital. My daughter’s life has been torn apart trying to take care of me. We lost our home and two loved Pyrenees that were raised from pups. Four mini goats, chickens, cat, etc. An organization is helping me board my two remaining pets while I look for a home. I have been in transitional housing since November 2015.
    This blog/post has me in tears. I can’t think about the way I and others were bullied without crying. What gives me pause is why?!?! I understand why bullies bully but why do companies/agencies allow it? The liability…yeah…I do get it. They don’t want to look responsible. Rather than behave ethically and follow the law, it’s easier for them to takeep their chances and hope the issue won’t end up in court. Even then the road their could prove tomoulchious for victims to stay in the fight,
    I’m not running from Texas. Criminal AND civil violations were committed. Worse my life, I have never been totally disabled…my life, the life of my family, all my retirement funds gone trying to pay bills, them homeless…homeless….I worked, I was not a lazy state employee, I earned my salary before becoming I’ll. I got bullied; harassed; name-calling; items missing from my desk; these fools DISCLOSED my protected health information to coworkers on several occasions. Can’t write anymore.

  3. Sarah says:

    I have had inclinations of bullying…people trying their darndest to find ways to get me fired. No matter how well I do my job I am intimidated and made to feel like I am not good. I have ten years experience, military experience and a degree. I found recently someone stole my work experience I won’t say it here but its to unique to be coincendence. Then co workers acting strange walking back and forth while I am at lunch slamming doors. I am nothing but nice to them I was helpful to one recently and he mumbles disgusting to me. Other problems its unreal.

  4. dibn says:

    Same here. Work packets missing. JJ missing. Given rush jobs w/o all info. Raises have not been good. Doing job of sales rep w/o commission w/a better GM than sales rep.
    Forget about giving suggestions for improvement. Will be shot down. Six mo later, they will be implemented. Treated like an imbecile. If I’m so horrible,(per my reviews) why haven’t they fired me?

    Am looking for another job. It’s a project.

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