Reconsidering the Scenario of Cyberbullying: Promoting the Internalization of the Locus of Control in Adolescents through Cognitive Restructuring
Jose Maria Ariso and David Reyero
Affiliation: Paseo de la Castellana 163. 28046 Madrid, Spain.
Background: Cyber bullying has become a focus of attention as having significant negative impacts on adolescents’
mental health. Victims of cyber bullying tend to have an external locus of control (ELOC). They are typically counseled
not to respond to the bully. This can lead to a sense of helplessness and resignation, and reinforcement of their view
of themselves as helpless to control their environment. There is a need for a more efficacious approach.
Methods: In this paper, we analyze the main strategies of coping with cyberbullying. We illustrate the difference between
the active and the passive ways of avoidance by bringing up the concepts of “internal locus of control” and “external locus
of control”. We describe how cyberbullying seems to be particularly suitable for developing or strengthening an internal
locus of control. Finally, we propose the use of cognitive restructuring to encourage the internalization of the cyber victim’s
locus of control.
Results: Victims can be made to understand that choosing not to respond is actually taking an active role which denyies
the bully the satisfaction of seeing the results of his or her behavior. Cognitive restructuring can transform the way in
which the victim’s response is understood.
Conclusions: Incorporating cognitive restructuring into individual therapy with adolescents could be helpful in promoting
an internal locus of control among adolescent victims of cyber bullying.
Keywords: Adolescents, cognitive restructuring, coping strategies, cyberbullying, locus of control.
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