Assertive training is a type of therapy that teaches people skills related to confidence. It helps individuals learn to better communicate their needs and wants, especially those who tend to be passive when it comes to expressing these things. Instead of defaulting to aggression, assertiveness training helps people channel their need to be heard in healthier ways and build confidence in the long term.
What Is Assertiveness Training?
Assertiveness training was created to help people stand up for themselves and feel confident in their voice. It empowers them to speak up for what they want and need without feeling any kind of guilt or shame. This kind of training also helps people be more assertive (i.e., more direct, honest, clear, and effective) and stick up for themselves and others.
Assertiveness training skills can be applied in these settings:1
- Corporate settings
- Therapeutic settings
- Medical settings
- Group settings, including families
Assertiveness training techniques can help in situations like:
- Public speaking
- Social anxiety
- Stage fright
- Getting what you want
- Saying no
- Improving self-esteem
- Sharing feelings/experiences with others
- Communication with a partner
- Negotiations at work including dealing with a difficult coworker or asking for a raise
- Setting boundaries with others
- Confronting mindfully on something that has bothered you
- Addressing toxic people in your life
- Interviewing skills
- Dealing with conflicting schedules such as in custody agreements
“Solid assertiveness training can help you in pretty much every area of your life, including self-esteem and interpersonal skills. Since communication is essential to every relationship and situation, effective and assertive communication only improves how you both feel and interact with others. Improved assertiveness can help you get a raise at work, land your next job, and develop more balanced authentic relationships. If you are communicating either passively or aggressively, your message is often lost, leading you to feel misunderstood or even taken advantage of. Learning to be assertive helps you value your needs while still respecting those around you,” says Dr. Zoe Rapoport, licensed Clinical Psychologist of Rapoport Psychological Services.
Assertiveness allows people to share what they think without offending others, while passive people tend to not share their perspective. Passivity lends itself to accepting the status quo and submitting to the needs or wants of others. Passive people are likely people-pleasers who have difficulty saying no. Assertiveness allows and teaches people how to say no with compassion and self-respect.3
Assertiveness vs. Aggression
While there may be some perceived similarities between assertiveness and aggression, they are distinct. Assertiveness is based on being true to your needs and wants. It leans on the virtue of fairness and equality. Aggression, on the other hand, is based on needing to win or be right.
Aggression has a goal of doing whatever is in one’s best interest and does not consider other people or any kind of fairness or equality. It is self-driven and self-centered and can be perceived as bullying by others.2
What’s Taught In Assertive Training?
Assertiveness training can teach a wide variety of topics and bolster skills like body language, establishing personal boundaries, being direct but not rude, and establishing self-worth.
Assertive training skills include:
- Good body language
- Establishing personal boundaries/space
- Learning to use “I” statements
- Being direct without being rude
- How to handle difficult emotions in the moment
- How to preserve personal autonomy
- Learn how to identify manipulative communications
- Establishes self-worth
- Learning to be comfortable with repetition
- Being comfortable asking for more time
How to Get Assertiveness Training
The best way to find a therapist for assertiveness training is by searching online and reviewing a list of in-network providers. Look through profiles and narrow it down to a few names. Many therapists offer a free phone consultation that gives you an opportunity to evaluate whether they’re the right fit. Treatment can be done virtually or in-person depending on your needs and the availability of the therapist.
Ask your therapist if they have any training/experience in assertive training, as well as how they would incorporate it into sessions.4,5 Any type of mental health clinician can use assertiveness therapy interventions and techniques as long as they have the experience. While there’s no specific certification or credential, there are continuing education credits and workshops therapists can enroll in.
Final Thoughts On Assertiveness Training Skills
Assertive training is a great way to improve communication and confidence. Learning some of these new skills can take time, but it’s often worth the effort. Working with a professional can help you make big strides toward mastering assertiveness training skills.