Fear of Former Colleagues

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I recently attended a conference and ran into a former colleague who was very cruel to me. I was a victim of mobbing at a previous job. I am petrified that this woman talked to my current colleague and she has sabotaged my job. I get extremely anxious every time I must attend workshops or conferences for this reason. My former boss was a big gossiper and has essentially ruined my reputation in my field. Even if I don’t run into former colleagues I am petrified that someone will recognize me or my name and ask me where I used to work. It has been so crippling. Now I am suffering PTSD and am very anxious and having a hard time sleeping due to running into this former colleague. What can I do to get rid of the anxiety? How can I lose the fear? What should I attempt to believe in order to feel more confident?

A. You should consider seeking psychological treatment for your PTSD and anxiety. These symptoms seem to be significantly impairing your life. A mental health professional could teach you how to eliminate your anxiety and fears and become more confident. You might also benefit from medication, which could also significantly decrease your anxiety and stress levels.

Generally speaking, forcing yourself to believe in the reality of a situation could assist you in eliminating your anxiety. For instance, you seem to have a great deal of anxiety but is this anxiety warranted? You’re concerned that your current job will be compromised by former colleagues but how likely is it that this will occur? Perhaps your anxiety stems from the aftermath of what happened in your previous job but in reality, there may not be any real threat to your current job. In that instance, a therapist would attempt to determine the legitimacy of your anxiety and if it is excessive or unnecessary, assist you in alleviating it.

You may want to read the work of Dr. Janice Harper. She has been studying the concept of mobbing in the workplace and has written a book on the subject. She explains how the process of mobbing is essentially bullying. Others have written about the subject as well.

It may take some time to fully overcome the trauma you sustained. Thankfully you were able to remove yourself from that situation but you seem to be struggling. Counseling could greatly expedite the process of healing and overcoming your fears. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 May 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Fear of Former Colleagues. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/05/13/fear-of-former-colleagues/