Assertiveness Training Therapy in London and Online
Assertiveness is the quality of being confident in your needs and wants and the ability to express them while respecting the feelings of others. Being assertive improves our well-being and personal relationships. Unfortunately, assertiveness is a communication skill we often lack. For these cases, we offer expert assertiveness training therapy in London and online. Therapy that teaches assertiveness skills and techniques to adults delivered by a trained psychologist, counsellor or therapist might be what you need to learn to express yourself and set boundaries in a healthy way. On this page, you can find helpful information about assertiveness communication, therapy for assertiveness, – and book with a counsellor or therapist to start working towards a positive change in your life.
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COVID-19 notice: Online Therapy & Counselling now offered for continued care
Discover Assertiveness Training
Why is Assertiveness Important?
We can all agree that life is unpredictable, especially in the current climate. There are so many things that we can’t control – accidents, our health – or other people’s emotions, actions, and decisions. The list could go on and on. Essentially, we’re surrounded by uncertainty, and it’s the way we respond to external forces that shapes our lives the most.
In a world where social interactions aren’t just a need but also a necessity, developing interpersonal, assertiveness skills is the key to living your life less passively and more successfully. While we can’t control how other people feel and think, interpersonal skills facilitate communication and help build positive relationships.
Assertiveness is one of the most essential communication skills.
Continue reading to find out what being assertive means and how assertiveness training can help.
What is Assertive behaviour?
Have you ever agreed to work overtime even though you were tired or had other commitments? Have you ever found it hard to say no to a friend because they asked you too many times? Assertive behaviour is about standing up for yourself and setting boundaries, no matter if you interact with a friend or a person of authority. It’s appropriately expressing your feelings and needs while respecting other people’s rights and beliefs. Unfortunately, assertiveness is often misunderstood. People tend to dislike being told no and confuse assertiveness with selfishness or even aggression. However, unlike aggressive and passive communication style, the aim of assertiveness is harmony. When we act assertively, we create a respectful environment that invites constructive dialogue and compromise.
Examples of Assertive Behaviour:
- expressing positive emotions such as appreciation, affection
- asking for help and support when needed
- receiving and giving compliments
- expressing negative emotions such as the feeling of hurt, disappointment, annoyance
- standing up for yourself: calling someone out on making inappropriate comments
- expressing a personal opinion that goes against someone’s beliefs
- making a complaint if being treated unfairly
- refusing requests and setting boundaries
What is Meant by Assertive Behaviour: verbal and non-verbal characteristics
making eye contact
facial expression that doesn’t express anger or anxiety
appropriate tone of voice that doesn’t send the wrong message (e.g. raising your voice will convey aggression)
using appropriate language that doesn’t imply you’re blaming the other person. For example, saying, “You make so much noise; I can’t sleep because of you”, invites the person to defend themselves instead of resolving the issue
clarity and positive language. If another person’s behaviour bothers you, making sure to be clear about what the behaviour is and use polite language.
Passive communication style
Do you ever find it hard to assert yourself? Do you sound apologetic when you speak? Passive communication is the lack of ability to express your thoughts or feelings and behaving in a submissive way. Passive individuals cannot stand up for themselves even when their boundaries are being crossed and avoid conflict at all costs. As a result, their frustration builds up and might lead to outbursts or turning their anger inwards and developing unhealthy coping skills. Passive communicators tend to feel hopeless and out of control because their needs aren’t being met. People might see their passiveness as an invitation to disrespect them.
Passive-aggressive communication style
Do you tend to give people the silent treatment when they upset you? Do you avoid talking about negative feelings with a partner? Do you tend to use sarcasm instead of explaining your perspective? Passive-aggressive people avoid confrontation while indirectly expressing their feelings. When you suppress your emotions and don’t fully engage with them, they build up and increase the barrier between you and the other person leaving you feeling powerless and alienated.
Aggressive communication style
Do you tend to blame others instead of talking things through? Are you critical and often raise your voice? Aggressive communication style is the opposite of assertiveness and indicates abusive verbal or physical behaviour. It might include shouting, using sarcasm, intimidating body language, blaming or attacking others. It’s a way of expressing yourself in an unclear and accusatory way while violating other people’s feelings. Aggressive communicators aim to dominate the conversation and unload their negative emotions on the other person instead of reaching a mutual understanding.
In a nutshell, assertiveness is confidence and self-esteem instead of aggression and insecurity that fuel other communication styles . Assertiveness training can help you improve your communication style and increase assertive behaviour, self-confidence and self-esteem.
Why is Lack of Assertiveness a Problem?
When you choose to be assertive, you also choose to see other people as equals. This point of view allows you to accept that you might not always agree with them, and they might not agree with you. Adopting a passive communication style means you place yourself below others and prioritise their needs, even if they’re strangers. You fail to have your needs met and start to resent yourself for letting people cross your boundaries and taking advantage. Lack of assertiveness essentially prevents you from building a positive relationship with yourself. It might even put you in danger in the future. If you can’t say no when your boss asks you to do an extra shift, you might not be able to say no when someone assaults you.
Similarly, aggressive and passive-aggressive communication styles strain your relationships and create a hostile environment. You might be viewed as a bully and end up feeling isolated because of a lack of constructive communication between you and other people.
What Are the Benefits of Being Assertive?
- improved self-confidence
- improved self-esteem
- better communication skills
- increased self-awareness
- more life satisfaction and an optimistic worldview
- reduced stress
- being respected by others
What are the Issues Linked with Lack of Assertiveness?
Self-esteem is the way we value and see ourselves. Having a strong sense of self gives us the confidence to prioritise and express our needs. If you think of yourself as inferior, you probably find it difficult to speak up for yourself and voice your wants and concerns. You might let other people violate your boundaries which in turn reinforces your feeling of unworthiness. On the other hand, assertiveness sends a clear message: I’m good enough, and I deserve to be treated with respect.
When you struggle with social anxiety, assertiveness doesn’t come easily. It’s challenging enough to participate in social situations, let alone assert your boundaries and voice an opinion. Social anxiety makes you afraid of being judged. You worry that engaging in assertive behaviour will be met with a negative reaction. This fear makes you resort to passive behaviour and undermine your rights and needs as a result.
Anger Management Issues
Anger is a natural response to injustice and the feelings of hurt we face in our lives. The problems start when instead of expressing anger healthily, we tend to suppress it and bottle our frustration until it explodes. If you can’t express and handle your anger healthily, it guides your communication style towards passive-aggressive or aggressive.
What Causes Lack of Assertiveness?
As you can see, all other communication styles are unhealthy and affect both ourselves and other people. When we act assertively, we feel more in control because we satisfy our needs and maintain connections with others. If being assertive is so beneficial, why are some people not assertive at all?
Here are some possible explanations:
– low confidence and self-esteem
– learned behaviour from a parent figure
– a parent’s negative reaction to a child’s request will teach them to avoid asking for things that might upset the parent and to seek validation as a result
– a parent might not teach a child to stand up for themselves and reward obedience even if not appropriate to the situation
– innate tendency to be passive or aggressive
– not knowing one’s rights or lack of understanding of assertiveness
Lack of assertiveness might be a combination of several factors. It might also stem from gender expectations – girls are expected to be more obedient – or cultural differences. For example, in Japan, assertiveness is traditionally viewed as aggressiveness. It might also be the way you were brought up or a part of your personality. The good news is, however, that assertiveness is a skill that can be learned. The answer is assertiveness training.
What is Assertiveness Training?
Assertiveness training was introduced in the ’70s due to an increasing number of women joining graduate education and the workplace . The training aimed to teach assertiveness skills that would allow women to stand up for themselves in various settings. At the beginning of assertiveness training, each participant is typically asked to think of scenarios in which they struggle to assert themselves. This exercise might help spot the patterns and emphasise the situations worth focussing on. The training might also involve roleplay that promotes better forms of communication and reaffirms assertiveness techniques through repetition. The focus is also on the “I” statements to encourage expressing one’s feelings. Additionally, assertiveness training consists of learning specific techniques and perspectives such as self-awareness .
Assertiveness training strives to empower people based on the principle that we all have the right to express our feelings and needs. The goals include learning the difference between assertive and non-assertive behaviour, differentiating between passive-aggressiveness and aggressiveness, increasing awareness of personal rights and acquiring verbal and non-verbal assertiveness skills.
Nowadays, assertiveness training rarely stands on its own and is a component of other, more popular and accessible therapies.
What Does Assertiveness Training Therapy Involve?
Assertiveness training helps you decrease anxiety-related inhibitions and learn skills that will result in better overall functioning. It involves four stages:
1) Developing beliefs that will facilitate assertive behaviour
2) Learning the difference between passiveness, aggression, and assertiveness
3) Understanding and improving cognitions that make us less assertive
4) Using strategies that lead to behaviour change
When Should I Seek Therapy for Assertiveness?
Do you struggle to get your point across? Do you feel guilty when you say no and say yes to things even though you don’t want to do them or don’t have the time to? Do you find it hard to speak your mind and stand up for yourself? If you don’t feel listened to and respected, if you’re overwhelmed and frustrated by your current situation, it’s the time for assertiveness training. While you might be already doing everything you can to improve, professional help is crucial to reach your full potential. At Therapy Central in Central London, we offer a safe space where you receive support and tools to achieve the desired outcome.
Contact us for a free 15 min consultation speak to one of our experienced therapists.
Does Assertiveness Training Therapy Work?
Yes, previous studies have shown assertiveness training is effective in improving assertiveness level . Assertiveness training was also found to reduce anxiety, stress and depression  and decrease social anxiety .
At Therapy Central, our therapists draw upon therapy approaches that are shown to be effective, the most popular being CBT. After the initial assessment, our therapist will choose with you the approach that will be the most helpful to you. You can also contact us to request a particular therapy style you are interested in.
What are the Benefits of Therapy for Assertiveness Training?
Therapy for assertiveness is more than learning how to say no. Assertiveness training will help you understand and recognise your feelings and teach you how to express them. You will learn how to improve self-confidence and adopt assertive communication skills, which will, in turn, make you feel more in control of your life. Therapy can also reduce symptoms of other issues related to lack of assertiveness, such as depression, social anxiety and suppressed anger. Learning to be assertive in a positive way will allow you to be assertive without being aggressive in several areas of life. As a result, these are some examples of the visible benefits you will be able to see:
- Express to your boss or manager you might have too much on your plate when you’re asked to take on an additional task. Assertiveness will allow you to be convincing with your argument, leading your boss or manager to delegate the job to someone else while understanding your position.
- Express to your partner that you would like them to do more at home as you feel overwhelmed. Assertive communication will allow you to express your needs clearly and respectfully, leading to your partner not feeling judged or criticised. In this way, they are likely to agree to your requests.
What is the Best Therapy for Assertiveness Training?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT Therapy is a therapy that focuses on the present – on finding solutions to current problems and improving the situations that affect one’s life negatively as opposed to concentrating on the past. It believes assertiveness is a learned behaviour and targets an individual’s views and beliefs.
CBT aims to help you develop new coping skills and change harmful patterns of behaviours such as unhealthy communication styles. The session begins with identifying situations in which you struggle with assertiveness. The least challenging scenarios are targeted first, allowing you to move up the list once you’ve had enough practice and increased desired behaviours in situations that cause minor problems. This step also involves analysing each situation and recognising what prevents assertive behaviour. For example, you might have self-defeating thoughts that stop you from standing up for yourself, experience negative emotions such as anxiety or lack of skills to express assertive behaviour. CBT can help you address emotional difficulties associated with a lack of assertiveness by challenging unhelpful thoughts and increasing positive thinking, decreasing emotional discomfort and providing assertiveness techniques. Essentially, CBT builds confidence and equips you with new skills that improve your general functioning.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
DBT is similar to CBT as it also focuses on developing coping skills. However, it highlights the importance of acceptance. Based on its principles, accepting and validating your behaviour is the first step to understanding it. Assertiveness is a part of the “Interpersonal Effectiveness” section of DBT that focuses on learning how to say no and express your wants through practical skills. You will learn how your behaviour affects others and gain the ability to respond more effectively.
Does Online Therapy for Assertiveness Work?
If you are looking for online therapy for assertiveness because of the pandemic or simply because you want to improve your situation from the comfort of your home, online therapy is an excellent alternative to face to face work. Several studies suggested that online therapy is as effective as in-person therapy. Some studies suggest it can be even more effective than face-to-face work, as it is felt as more personal. Look at our page on Online Counselling, to get a sense of this therapy modality which has become more and more popular in the last few years. If you have any doubts, feel free to get in touch to ask any questions about online and in-person therapy: take this chance to be assertive!
Tips to Get You Started with Assertive Communication
While you’re considering therapy to learn assertiveness skills, have a look at some tips that can help you make small improvements:
Learn to relax
Since situations that require the most assertiveness evoke feelings of anxiety and stress, it’s important to practise relaxation techniques. Start with this breathing exercise: breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on the way your chest moves as you inhale and exhale to bring yourself to the present. Breathe in for a count of four and breathe out for a count of 6. Do this for at least 3 minutes.
Practise saying no to requests by accepting your feelings
We tend to avoid saying no because refusal makes us feel guilty. If you want to become more assertive, you have to learn how to live with discomfort. Once you’ve had a bit of practice with breathing techniques, recall a negative emotion and let it reach your awareness without engaging in it. Simply observe it. If you find it difficult to distance yourself, notice where you feel it in the body. Try to relax your muscles and repeat the exercise.
Start working on your self-esteem
Assertiveness is ultimately the confidence to stand by your needs and principles. To improve self-confidence, try to engage in positive self-talk. Choose an affirmation that empowers you. For example, “I’m worthy” or “I can, and I will.”
One of the reasons we fear being assertive is that we’re afraid of other people’s reactions and imagine the worst-case scenarios. One way to turn negativity into optimism is by challenging your negative thinking. For every “what if?” thought that appears in your mind, try to come up with a contradictory sentence. For example, “What if it goes well and things will improve?” Try to practise this every day.
Our therapists specialised in Assertiveness Training
All of our therapists are qualified psychologists, psychotherapists or counsellors registered with several professional bodies. These include the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the British Psychological Society (BPS), as well as, BACP, UKCP and BABCP.
Our therapists use CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), psychodynamic, humanistic and integrative approaches tailored around your needs to help you deal with your unique challenges and reach your goals.
The Therapist l had was absolutely brilliant with me. He had patience with me and bit by bit l gained a little of confidence to try and get out and go on the buses.
He deserves an award and if l could l would in the beginning l thought how is this person going to get me back on public transport but he did he gave me the confidence l lost and now have back.
I will never forget him and what he has done for me. I wish him nothing but the best in his life.
My therapist was excellent. I highly recommend her and I am truly thankful for my sessions, I left feeling confident and positive.
The mental tools, systems and approaches I have been able to develop with her and use in my life have been hugely beneficial.
Thank you to all at Therapy Central.
The Therapist really gave me the space to talk and express my feelings and fears in a very comforting environment.
She was there not only to listen, but challenge my thinking, guide me during the uncertainty I was experiencing and give me useful and practical tips to improve my mental health and wellbeing. Highly recommended!
Working with the therapist has been a life-changing experience. Each session has been invaluable, helping me gain a good understanding of CBT methodology enabling me to incorporate ways to combat stress and anxiety in my daily life.
The Therapist shows that she really cares and has the ability to make you feel calm whilst discussing any personal issue.
Fees & Insurances
Therapy, Counselling and CBT sessions are 50 minutes long and are usually held at regular weekly time slots.
15 Minute initial
Your Private Healthcare Insurance Provider
Assertiveness Training in Central London & Online
If you are looking for Assertiveness Training Therapy in London, or Online, at Therapy Central, we can help you learn the strategies you need to start dealing with the problematic thoughts and emotions preventing you from standing by your needs and wants, and learn to say no. As a result, you’ll be able to make the crucial changes to bring balance and fulfilment back into your life.
Get professional help with Assertiveness Training in London and Online today. Contact us for a free 15 min consultation with an Assertiveness Therapist to see if our help would fit your needs. You can also get in touch via email at email@example.com or call us at (+44) 020 348 82797.
COVID-19 notice: Online and Telephone Assertiveness Training Therapy is now provided for continued care, support, and safety. We’re here to help. No matter what.
What happens after I make an enquiry?
After receiving your enquiry, we’ll contact you to organise a FREE phone consultation. You will tell us more about your specific circumstances and needs and ask any questions you have. Then, if you want to proceed with therapy or counselling, we’ll match you with the therapist(s) with the best expertise to help you with your challenges and send you a list of their available appointment slots. If you’re satisfied with one of these, we can then go ahead and book your first appointment. You can also request to work with a specific practitioner, and, depending on availability, we’ll try to accommodate this.
What happens at my first appointment with the therapist?
Your first session will likely be different from future appointments. You and your therapist will get to know each other and will begin to build a working alliance. It will be a chance to have the confidential space to express your circumstances, feelings and thoughts and being listened to with depth, attention, empathy and without judgement. Your therapist will likely ask you more about your reasons for seeking therapy and any symptoms you’re experiencing. You may also be asked questions about your past and the history of your issues, as well as how they currently impact your life in the present. Finally, your first session may be a powerful place to discuss what you would like to achieve with therapy and agree on the length, methods, and treatment approaches.
Is online therapy effective?
If you choose online over in-person therapy, rest assured that this has been proven to be just as effective as regular face to face therapy, and in some cases, even more effective. Also, choosing online therapy brings additional benefits, for example, avoiding long waiting times, greater flexibility with appointments, and you won’t need to travel to our practice. You can enjoy online therapy from the comfort of your home.
How long the Therapy/counselling sessions last?
Therapy/counselling sessions last 50 minutes and are held at regular weekly time slots. On occasions, we can allow some flexibility. You can discuss this with your therapist.
Do you offer reduced rates/concessions?
We offer low-cost rates at £60 per session to people with a low income, unemployed, students and NHS workers. Please highlight in your enquiry if you would like a concession rate and how you qualify for this. Depending on the availability of our therapists, we’ll do our best to accommodate your request.
Do you have a cancellation policy?
We have a 48 hours no-fee cancellation policy. However, you will be charged for sessions missed without giving the full notice.
Our Practice in Central London
Our comfortable and confidential therapy rooms are conveniently located 3 min walk from Oxford Circus station, in Central London (see map below). Change starts with Talking!
Dr Amy Smith, Counselling Psychologist
Dr Raffaello Antonino, Counselling Psychologist
 What is Assertiveness Training? – Psych Company