Graduate counseling student presents workplace mobbing research at SAC

MSUM graduate student Oksana Bihun hopes to shed light on a misunderstood and relatively unknown issue at the 24th Annual Student Academic Conference (SAC): workplace mobbing. This term refers to the intentional targeting of a coworker for isolation or humiliation. According to Bihun, it happens every day, regardless of occupation.

“There is awareness about sexual harassment of women in the workplace and bullying of children in a school setting, but little known is about the overall psychological violence experienced at work,” said Bihun.

The MSUM 2024 prospective graduate's path to presenting at the SAC is anything but ordinary. Bihun obtained her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Missouri, working as a math professor for 11 years. 

“It wasn’t cutting it, and I had a change of heart. As a professor, I would be advising students and I realized helping individuals is all I truly wanted to do.”

With a new passion in mind, Bihun set out to pursue a master’s degree in counseling at MSUM. Her classes focus on recognizing and assessing behaviors while applying developmental theories to help individuals succeed.

Her studies sparked a unique question: “As a counselor, how do I help a victim of psychological work abuse?”

Workplace mobbing was a phenomenon first researched in the 1970s by Heinz Leymann, but little research has been conducted since then.

Aiming to answer her own question, Bihun designed a 16-week psychotherapy protocol to support targets of emotional abuse at work. Titled Mobbing-informed Therapy (MIT), her protocol combines several existing methodologies to support those who have experienced workplace mobbing. She will present her findings at the SAC on April 5.

Her new approach aids therapists in the challenge of facilitating positive changes in a client suffering from workplace trauma. Bihun’s philosophy comes from a place of service.

“My goal is to combine psychology, statistical research, humanities and empathy to guide a human being. Helping people: that’s all I want to do.”

After obtaining her licensure in counseling, Bihun plans to stay and work in the area. Bihun strives to improve the lives of those in her community and harness her passion for helping others.

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