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Assertiveness Training Worksheets

Assertive behaviors are those that enable an individual to act in their own best interests, to stand up for themselves without undue anxiety, to express honest feelings comfortably, or to exercises their own rights without denying the rights of others (paraphrased from Alberti & Emmons, 1974). Deficits in assertiveness are associated with a range of problems including low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Psychologists believe that assertiveness skills—the ability to speak and act assertively—can be taught and learned. Read more
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Therapy tool

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Assertive Communication

Communicating assertively is an essential skill for maintaining healthy self-esteem and strong relationships. This information handout describes the k ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/assertive-communication/

Information Handout

Assertive Responses

Communicating assertively is an essential skill for maintaining healthy self-esteem and strong relationships. The Assertive Responses exercise helps c ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/assertive-responses/

Exercise

Avoidance Hierarchy

Avoidance and safety-seeking behavior serves to maintain anxiety, and exposure to the fear stimuli/situation is an effective treatment for anxiety. Th ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/avoidance-hierarchy/

Exercise

Behavioral Experiment

Behavioral experiments allow individuals to test the validity of their beliefs and assumptions. They are a core experiential technique for therapeutic ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/behavioral-experiment/

Worksheet

CBT Thought Record

The CBT Thought Record is an essential tool in cognitive behavioral therapy. Thought challenging records help people to evaluate their negative automa ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cbt-thought-record/

Worksheet

Self Critical Thought Challenging Record

Disputing thoughts is a critical skill in cognitive therapy. The Self-Critical Thought Challenging Record helps clients to identify and challenge thei ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/self-critical-thought-challenging-record/

Worksheet

Self Critical Thought Monitoring Record

Self-monitoring of thoughts, feelings, and symptoms is an essential skill in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This Self-Critical Thought Monitorin ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/self-critical-thought-monitoring-record/

Worksheet

Self Criticism Self Monitoring Record

Self-monitoring of thoughts, feelings, and symptoms is an essential skill in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This Self-Criticism Self-Monitoring ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/self-criticism-self-monitoring-record/

Worksheet

Therapy Blueprint

Since the publication of this version of the therapy blueprint we have also developed a more sophisticated version: Therapy Blueprint (Universal) A th ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/therapy-blueprint/

Exercise

Thought Challenging Record 7 Column

The thought record is an essential tool in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Thought challenging records help people to evaluate their negative auto ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/thought-challenging-record-7-column/

Worksheet

Unhelpful Thinking Styles

Human thinking is subject to a number of characteristic biases. Cognitive restructuring is the process of helping individuals to overcome their biases ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/unhelpful-thinking-styles/

Information Handout

Assessment

Scales

References

Intervention

Information Handouts

Self-Help Programmes

Improving your assertiveness

Recommended Reading

What Is Assertiveness?

Signs and Symptoms of Un-assertiveness

Assertiveness is a skill. Being assertive means being able to stand up for your own rights, or those of others, in a calm and positive way. People who struggle to be assertive might:

  • find it difficult to stand up for their rights or put across their point of view;
  • behave passively and comply with the wishes of others;
  • respond aggressively and fail to consider the views of others.

Psychological Models and Theory of Assertiveness

Heimberg and Becker (1981) review both behavioral and cognitive models of assertive behavior. They argue that a behavioral model of assertiveness is based on four major assumptions:

  • Non-assertive behavior is the result of a deficit in assertiveness skills.
  • Reinforcement of assertive behavior is an essential part of its development and maintenance.
  • Different types of assertive behavior are independent from one another and may need to be taught separately.
  • Assertive behavior is situation-specific.

Examining a cognitive model of assertiveness, Heimberg and Becker (1981) propose that

non-assertiveness may be the result of:

  • maladaptive cognitions such as self-statements;
  • irrational beliefs and negative self-evaluations;
  • expectations of unwanted results from assertive behavior;
  • differences in information processing and cognitive flexibility between assertive and non-assertive individuals.

Evidence-Based Psychological Approaches for Increasing Assertiveness

Speed, Goldstein, and Goldfried (2018) review research on assertiveness training and place it within a historical context. They describe how assertiveness training fell out of favor with moves toward a medical model approach to treating psychological difficulties. They review evidence for assertiveness training as a stand-alone intervention. They also review the role of assertiveness within Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) ‘interpersonal effectiveness’ modules, behavioral activation programs, and its fit within committed value-based actions as a part of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). They conclude:

“Early basic research suggests that assertiveness problems are common among externalizing disorders, such as depression and anxiety, as well as nonclinical problems such as self-esteem and relationship satisfaction, making assertiveness a construct that may play a central role in the maintenance of clinical problems. Importantly, a substantial body of early research supports the efficacy of assertiveness training in improving clinical symptoms, increasing self-esteem, relationship satisfaction, and assertiveness—both broadly and within specific contexts.”

Resources for Working with Assertiveness

Psychology Tools resources available for working therapeutically with assertiveness may include:

References

  • Alberti, R. E., & Emmons, M. L. (1974). Assert yourself—It’s your perfect right. San Luis Obispo. CA: Impact.
  • Heimberg, R. G., & Becker, R. E. (1981). Cognitive and behavioral models of assertive behavior: Review, analysis and integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 1(3), 353–373.
  • Speed, B. C., Goldstein, B. L., & Goldfried, M. R. (2018). Assertiveness training: A forgotten evidence‐based treatment. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 25(1), e12216. https://doi.org/10.1111/cpsp.12216