In Bullying Experts, Expert Interviews

Janet Zinn on Teen Bullying

Janet Zinn has a varied private practice because she works with individuals, couples, families and groups on a number of levels. She treats long-term clients who are working on core issues in their lives, who choose to go to deep places that illuminate and transform circumstances and/or situations that are not working for them anymore. This is arduous work that can be painful, and yet fulfilling. Through the years, clients have come in to deal with depression, anxiety, divorce, the stress of being a caregiver, bereavement, eating disorders, relationship problems, and difficult life circumstances. She talks to Ciaran Connolly about Teen Bullying.

The interview on Teen Bullying can also be found here and here.

Below is a transcript of the interview on Teen Bullying: 

Janet: I am Janet Zinn. I am a psychotherapist who works with adolescents and adults and I work in New York City in Manhattan on the Upper East Side. I see groups but mostly I see individuals and families and one of the biggest issues, particularly with adolescents but also with adults in a different way, is bullying.

Ciaran: And do you think bullying is as a big issue today as it was 10 years ago?

Janet: I think that it is hard to say because there is more of a conversation about bullying now than there had been in the past. I think bullying has been ever present for a long time and I think that the impact that it has has been stronger because one can have a wider audience.

Ciaran: Of course. Do you see a difference in how buying happens today, with technology, the internet, mobile phones, (and) text messages?

Janet: Absolutely, I do because I think it becomes…one can depersonalize bullying and one doesn’t really know the impact that they are having whereas when there was schoolyard bullying, as there so is schoolyard bullying, you really have an audience and you see how people are interacting or what happens not that it is better but it is just that you really don’t know what the impact is or who is reacting in what way and how people were taking information and then reinterpreting it. So, it’d be more dangerous in that it is not contained in the same way.

Ciaran: And there is a lot of coverage in the media with bullying and cyber bullying, is this a good thing?

Janet: I think it is a good thing that its making people more conscious that it does exist and people are also touching in to their experience in bullying and there is a bit more outrage about it but I also think that the word bullying, there is a lot of punter going around about using the word so it losses some its impact and then because it loses its impact people, are really championing for people who are being abused.

Ciaran: And have you ever seen or heard of severe cases of bullying? And is there often I guess dramatic consequences to bullying and cyber bullying?

Janet: Absolutely. I mean, as we have seen in the media, there has been suicides that have taken place. There have been a lot of attempted suicides. There has been a kid who stopped going to school. There has been a lot of that where parents don’t understand why their children aren’t going to school because they are not speaking out against the bullying but they are just not able to face a daily torment.

Ciaran: And what is the best advice to give to someone who is being bullied?


Janet: The best advice that I can give to somebody who is being bullied is to find support, to understand and appreciate the strength that they have in facing being bullied and that it really does, it does build. That there are more kids that have been bullied that become successful and how they lead satisfied lives than those who have bullied because there is a greater compassion, because they faced hardship and they had to go through it and they understand their strength and their ability to get through very difficult situations. So, that’s information they can have but the best advice is to find ways, to find people, who really see them and get them and if there are no resources, if they are not in a happy home situation, if nobody is really hearing about them, then do what you can to write online, to find like-minded groups, to find ways to be able to have an outlet for your emotional well being as well as for you just a creative and self but definitely communicate with others. Don’t keep it a secret and as much as you can find sympathetic listeners, but not only people your own age.

Ciaran: So adults as well?

Janet: Well, there are so many incidences certainly in The States of kids that have been bullied who find someone their own age and then they want to retaliate. So, they become bulliers (bullies) themselves. So, you really want to be able to have been bullied and use that as a way to move past bullying scenarios rather than still reacting to the bullying.

Ciaran: And is there likely to be long term effects on people who are bullied?

Janet: I think it really depends on are there outside resources? I mean, for some people if their self-esteem plummets and it stays there because they don’t have any kind of support whether its therapy, whether it is groups they are involved in, whether it is friends, whether it is family. So, in that way they can have long-term effects of depression, of neediness and trying to please in relationships, of feelings of rejection that are constant and stay with somebody they can’t have healthy relationships because they anticipate being rejected.

On the other hand, if one can have support in certain measures, they actually can have great success in their lives because they have had the experience of being bullied and they know that they are not who the bully says they are and they live that reality rather than the bully’s reality.

Ciaran: And you specialize in supporting corporations in dealing with difficult employees being one of the problems you have people work through. Do you often have to have people work through bullying at work?

Janet: Yes, absolutely.  There are so many people who don’t develop past their adolescence and so they use bullying as a functioning tool for themselves and they are used to kind of scaring people or intimidating people and that is how they function in the world and the more that people don’t buy into that or don’t act the victim to that and can speak to wit and see beyond that…for instance , so there is a boss at work who kind of uses the evaluation and promotion as a way to keep his employees below him and he is always threatening to write them up and to do things and really kind of acts as a bully on a regular basis. So, they are acting out of fear.

 So, you want to see what kind of culture in the work environment allows that to take place and are people above this supervisor who are careful of the supervisor and therefor let it take place or they don’t have information they need to have and so you try to see how to work with the bully without having them be intimidating and find a way that you can work through your fear so you are not working out of fear and sometimes you will be able to move and not work with and sometimes they will be removed because they finally see who they are.

Ciaran: And is bullying at work something that is increasing?

Janet: Is it increasing?

Ciaran: Or are people more aware of it?

Janet: I think people are more aware of it. I think it’s neither increasing nor decreasing. I think what is happening is that bullying…people are becoming smarter about the way they bully so it’s covert, it is not overt. It is like they are not yelling at the office anymore. We know some have tantrums and that becomes acceptable in some environments but I think more often than not they are doing it in very covert ways so that they kind of make an allegiance. You have to be quiet about how I am abusing you.

Ciaran: And what can a business do to try and ensure that bullying issues don’t start in a company?

Janet:  Well, I think by promoting open communication and for employees to have the sense that they are being heard and they are not being dismissed and that the bully is able to be heard too because bullies bully because they don’t feel that they have a sense of real power. So, they give them a false sense of power, they feel they need to make somebody else small. If they feel like they are being empowered themselves, then they don’t need to have another outlet for being mean and that is also true for those who have been bullied that they have a place to go to and they are heard so that open communication is the best form of prevention for bullying.

Ciaran: Thank you very much doctor Janet for your time today it was very good. Apologies for the technical difficulties. If anyone wanted to reach out to you to contact you and ask for some advice and help, what is the best way for them to do that?

Janet: the best way to reach me is probably through my website which is and from there, they can either email me or they can call me and reach out in whatever way that they would want.

Ciaran: Excellent and we will have a live link just below this video so that anybody can click through to your website.

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