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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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15 of 15 resources

Assertive Communication

Communicating and acting assertively is an interpersonal skill that helps people to maintain healthy relationships, resolve interpersonal conflict, an ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/assertive-communication

Therapy Blueprint (Universal)

A therapy blueprint is CBT tool which summarizes the work a therapist and patient have completed together. It represents the past (the problems, what ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/therapy-blueprint-universal

Assertive Responses

Being able to communicate assertively is an essential skill for developing and maintaining healthy relationships and positive self-esteem. Individuals ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/assertive-responses

Unhelpful Thinking Styles (Archived)

NOTE: Two improved versions of this resource are available here: Cognitive Distortions – Unhelpful Thinking Styles (Common) and Cognitive Disto ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/unhelpful-thinking-styles-archived

Behavioral Experiment

Behavioral experiments are planned experiential activities to test the validity of a belief. They are one of the most powerful techniques available to ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/behavioral-experiment

Behavioral Experiment (Portrait Format)

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-portrait-format

Fair Fighting Rules For Resolving Conflict

Fair fighting is a collection of rules that individuals can use to manage conflict effectively, so that it is ‘fair’ and works towards a resolutio ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/fair-fighting-rules-for-resolving-conflict

Fear Ladder

The Fear Ladder is a tool for exploring and ranking the contexts or situations in which a client experiences fear. It is designed to help the client a ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/fear-ladder

Evaluating Unhelpful Automatic Thoughts

The Evaluating Unhelpful Automatic Thoughts guide is written for clients who struggle with negative automatic thoughts. It provides a comprehensive in ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/evaluating-unhelpful-automatic-thoughts

Boundaries - Self-Monitoring Record

Developing self-monitoring skills teaches clients to systematically observe and record specific targets such as their own thoughts, body feelings, emo ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/boundaries-self-monitoring-record

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

Reciprocal CBT Formulation

CBT therapists often describe finding it difficult to apply CBT skills when clients bring relational problems to therapy. Familiar methods of visu ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/reciprocal-cbt-formulation

Interpersonal Beliefs And Styles

Interpersonal issues and relationship problems form an important part of what clients bring to therapy: they might present as clients’ current conce ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/interpersonal-beliefs-and-styles

Avoidance Hierarchy (Archived)

NOTE: An improved version of this resource is available here: Fear Ladder. Older versions of a resource may be archived in the event that they are ava ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/avoidance-hierarchy

What Do People Think About Themselves (CYP)?

People are not born with low self-esteem. Instead, we develop ideas about ourselves and our place in the world as a result of our life experiences. Pe ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/what-do-people-think-about-themselves-cyp

Links to external resources

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Assessment

  • The Assertiveness Inventory | Alberti, Emmons | 1986
    • Scale
    • Reference Alberti, R.E. and Emmons, M.L. (2017). Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships(10th ed.). Oakland, CA: Impact Publishers/New Harbinger Publications.
    • Reference Gay, M. L., Hollandsworth, J. G., & Galassi, J. P. (1975). An assertiveness inventory for adults.Journal of Counseling Psychology, 22(4), 340-344.

Information Handouts

  • Assertive behaviors: Ideas to keep in mind
  • Guide to healthy relationships
  • Assertive communication | Centre For Clinical Interventions
  • Being assertive (workbook) | Williams | 2000

Information (Professional)

Self-Help Programmes

Recommended Reading

  • Duckworth, M. P. (2009).Assertiveness skills and the management of related factorsin O’Donohue, W. T., Fisher, J. E., & Hayes, S. C. (Eds.). (2004).Cognitive behavior therapy: Applying empirically supported techniques in your practice. John Wiley & Sons.
  • 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.

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