What is IVY?
Researchers at Florida State University have created an innovative intervention for victims of peer victimization, known as IVY (interventions for Victimized Youth). The purpose of IVY is to decrease distress caused by being the victim of peer victimization. Just as ivy plants are strong and can flourish in difficult environments, the goal of IVY is for targets of peer victimization to thrive academically and socially despite challenging circumstances. IVY participants will be taught a variety of skills for coping with emotional difficulties, as well as strategies for how to protect themselves. To achieve this, several methods are used to teach the content, including psychoeducation, didactic teaching, modeling, role playing, and guided self-reflection.
The current version of IVY is designed for middle school students (grades six through eight). It is delivered in a small group format and consists of eight, one-hour long sessions. The sessions are as follows: 1) Introduction, 2) Coping and Relaxation Skills, 3) Share Your Story, 4) Connecting Experiences and Emotions, 5) Combatting Negative Thoughts, 6) Protect Yourself and Safely Help Others, 7) Social Problem-Solving Skills, 8) Closing and Celebration. Each session was designed to meet the two overarching goals of IVY: 1) reduce participants’ distress and increase coping skills and 2) teach participants how to protect themselves and others.
Why Was IVY Created?
Unfortunately, peer victimization is a common occurrence among youth. Rates of bullying have been reported to range from 19.5-22.8% for males and 12.8-23.7% for females (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014), these rates are likely much higher when considering the broader term of peer victimization. Along with the high prevalence rates, peer victimization has been linked to adverse academic outcomes and decreased mental health. Recent research (Crosby et al., 2010; Geoffroy et al., 2018; Idsoe et al., 2012; Ranney et al., 2015) has also supported the conceptualization of peer victimization as a trauma. Despite literature supporting the idea that peer victimization can be a form of trauma, most peer victimization interventions do not treat it as such and are not built upon trauma-specific practices. This realization led to the creation of IVY. As such, IVY was created based off of recent trauma literature and two existing evidence-based trauma intervention, Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Researchers at Florida State University are seeking middle school students (grades six through eight) who experience distress from peer victimization to participate in a research study to determine the effectiveness of IVY. A small pilot study was conducted that provided preliminary support for the interventions effectiveness, prompting further exploration. To further the interventions evidence-base the researchers are interested in conducting larger scale studies to determine the interventions usefulness for reducing distress associated with peer victimization and teaching skills about how to handle it in future.
What is peer victimization?
Peer victimization is when a child or adolescent is the target of aggressive behaviors that are perpetrated by other children. Bullying is the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group and includes a power imbalance (ex. Three children picking on one child). Bullying falls under the umbrella term of peer victimization. Unlike bullying, peer victimization does not require the aggressive behaviors to be repeated or involve a power imbalance. IVY targets victims of peer victimization in order to serve more children who may be in distress.
Who could benefit from this intervention?
Any sixth through eighth grade student who faces difficulties from being the target of peer victimization/bullying.
What is the time commitment?
Participants are asked to commit one hour a week for a total of 10 weeks. This includes a pre-intervention survey, post-intervention survey, and 8 sessions of small group therapy.
Are there any risks to participating?
Due to the nature of the IVY intervention, participants may feel distressed or uncomfortable when discussing or recalling events when they were the target of peer victimization. Sharing their victimization stories is encouraged during one session, but it will not be required. There is risk that group members may share experiences or events that could be considered harassment or abuse. To alleviate any distress caused by the intervention, counselors will be available to individuals after the sessions.
What are the benefits of participating?
As a result of taking part in this research, the researchers believe that participants may learn a variety of skills for coping with emotional difficulties and protecting themselves. The goal is to alleviate some of the distress participants may be facing. Participants will also be compensated for their participation in the study.
If I sign my child up are there consequences for dropping out of the study?
There is no penalty for dropping out of the study, but your child may not be eligible for the gift card if they do not complete all sessions.
If you are interested in signing your child up for IVY, please use the link below to fill out the interest form. Once the form is filled out, a team member will contact you with further direction.
Interest form link:
Lyndsay Jenkins, Ph.D., NCSP, Licensed Psychologist
Dr. Jenkins is the Michael and Jean Shahnasarian Endowed Associate Professor at FSU. She received her Ph.D. in School Psychology from Northern Illinois University, is a licensed psychologist in the State of Florida, and a nationally certified school psychologist. Jenkins is an associate editor for the Journal of School Psychology and recently was awarded the Early Career Award from the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention for Distinguished Scholarly Contributions to Bullying Abuse Prevention.
Sonya Kaminski, MPhil, MSSW
Sonya is a doctoral candidate in the Counseling Psychology and School Psychology combined program at FSU. She is currently completing her doctoral internship at Centerstone, a community mental health center in Bradenton, Florida. She has experience in providing mental health interventions in school settings and her research has focused on child adverse experiences and academic success. Sonya has a passion for working with youth and will be serving as the Assistant in Research for the IVY program. In this role, Sonya will help with program development and implementing peer victimization interventions.
Madison Woodall, M.S.
Madison is a doctoral student in the combined Counseling and School Psychology program at Florida State University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2020 and a Master’s degree in Counseling and Human Systems in 2021, both from Florida State University. Her research interests include bullying prevention/intervention, childhood trauma, and intellectual/developmental disabilities. Madison has been involved with IVY since 2020. Since then, she has been a part of both the creation and implementation of the intervention.
Miranda Bradley, M.S.
Miranda Bradley is a doctoral student in the Counseling and School Psychology program at Florida State University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2021 from the University of Florida. Her research interests include crisis intervention and prevention in the school system, specifically in suicide and bullying prevention. Miranda has been a part of the IVY project since 2021.
Edgardo Mejias Vazquez
Edgardo is a first-year doctoral student in the Counseling and School Psychology Ph.D. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor's degree in psychology. He is interested in the factors that affect mental health and academic outcomes among minorities. Edgardo is currently working with Dr. Jenkins on the IVY project.
Kate Mirah is a doctoral student in the Counseling and School Psychology program at Florida State University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Purdue University in 2023. Her research interests include early intervention, taking a holistic approach when providing interventions and support, and fostering an inclusive educational environment by embracing diversity and equity. Kate has been involved in the IVY project as of 2023.
Annika Simpson is a doctoral student in the combined Counseling and School Psychology program at Florida State University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and history in 2022 from Belmont University. Her research interests include childhood and adolescent trauma, specifically the intersection of traditional trauma therapies with animal-assisted interventions. Annika has been a part of the IVY project since 2023.