Are you in charge - or is the balloon in control ?

As soon as you mention the word 'assertion' some people imagine that this is a process that is somehow 'pushy' - a means of getting your own way - something not very nice.

Nothing could be further from the truth - assertiveness is simply ensuring that you have the things you have a right to - it's nothing to do with trying to get more that you need or rightly deserve, but it is about not letting other people impose themselves on your good nature.

Because this is all to do with you taking control of things in your life, the skills you can learn to help you be assertive, can also help to give you a greater degree of resilience against things you find disturbing and can help to reduce any fears you have.

The best way to develop these skills is with a group of people with similar aims in mind - and such is the normal structure of assertiveness training classes. These classes are usually run by a therapist who is qualified in psycho-something-or-other but has a special interest in group interaction and / or confidence building.

Most people will benefit from such a course - there are a wide variety of exercises which involve working in pairs or working with the whole group, all of which are designed to promote feelings of equality within the group and to help self expression.

I had two unusual reasons for attending an assertiveness training group - firstly I was a qualified psychotherapist and I wanted to learn some of the procedures used in these classes - by experiencing them as a 'patient' would... and I wanted to persuade a friend of mine to attend - and the best way to achieve that was to take her along with me. Despite not feeling the need for the course - at the time I was an 'area co-ordinator' for a singles group, and I was also learning a martial art, so I was not exactly lacking in confidence - I still found some of the activities useful to me in a personal way - so I would recommend courses like this to absolutely everyone - whether you imagine you need it or not.

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Joseph Wolpe developed both assertiveness training and de-sensitisation. To read more about the man and his therapies click here

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