Assertiveness Training

What is Assertiveness Training?

Assertiveness is a skill regularly referred to in social and communication skills training. Being assertive means being able to stand up for your own or other people’s rights in a calm and positive way, without being either aggressive, or passively accepting ‘wrong’. Characteristics of assertive behaviour include expressing your feelings, needs, ideas, and rights in ways that don’t violate the rights of others. Assertive behaviour is usually honest, direct, expressive, spontaneous, and self-enhancing.

How does Assertiveness Training work?

Participants in training often role-play or practice in a group being Confident: You believe in your ability to handle the situation and are composed. Clear: The message is easy to understand and is not exaggerated. Controlled: You are “tracking” the other person and modulate yourself if necessary.

What is Assertiveness Training used for?

Assertiveness training can be the first step to improving a person’s self-esteem. People who have difficulty being assertive can often feel overlooked or invisible and that their needs are secondary to others. That being said, sometimes it is necessary to focus enhancing self-esteem as a precursor to assertiveness training and the person has to feel that their needs are worthy of consideration by others. Having difficulty being assertive can have a negative impact on career progression and interpersonal relationship satisfaction.

What can I expect from Assertiveness Training?

You should expect a programme (which might be delivered in a one-day workshop or hourly sessions over a number of weeks) to include psychoeducation on the benefits of assertiveness, how it differs from aggression. Key phrases that are useful when expressing oneself assertively may be taught and role-play is likely to be a central feature of any programme.

Content commonly covered in Assertiveness Training includes a focus on valuing yourself and your rights, expressing yourself with confidence, accepting that you can’t control other’s behaviour, being open to compliments and criticism and learning to say NO.

What mental health issue is Assertiveness Training helpful for treating?

Issues around self-esteem and having ones needs met in broad range of situations could be addressed through assertiveness training.

When doesn’t Assertiveness Training work?

The client has to be willing to practice assertiveness techniques outside of the therapy room. If they fail to put their new learning into practice, then little is likely to change.

Things to consider before choosing Assertiveness Training

You should consider the cost and sequencing of the programme. It will be important to attend all scheduled training sessions so before you book in make sure the hours are suitable to you. You should also be willing to actively participant in workshop activities and practice your learning in real life settings.

This content has been researched, prepared and written by Counselling in Melbourne psychologist Dr Malcolm Winstanley-Cross.

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