Assertiveness: How to Get What You Want (or Say No) Using DBT

People with all sorts of difficulties—ranging from typical, everyday deflation, anxiety, and personality pathology—often struggle with being pro-active, exercising self-control, overcoming passivity, boundary setting, and—in a word—assertiveness.

Assertiveness is a crucial skill that can be developed through therapy and practice. It is fundamental to subjective well-being, happiness, mental health, and self-care. From a clinical perspective, difficulties with assertiveness can be found among individuals with social anxiety and depression as well as in substance use disorders and personality disorders.

What Is Assertiveness? 

Assertiveness can be conceptualized as a personality trait, social skill, behaviour, or self-regulatory capacity. It refers to behaviour that is intentional, self-directed, and pro-active. It refers to behaviour that gets one what one wants, establishes interpersonal boundaries, or expresses one’s opinions or feelings in an effective way. Some examples of assertive behaviour include raising one’s hand during a classroom discussion—speaking confidently and clearly without excessive maladaptive concerns over criticism or negative feedback.


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