Boundaries: How to Conduct Assertiveness Training

Stacks Image 1485
Please note: A live-online version of this program is available from PraxisCET in winter 2024. Click here for more information.

The function of much of therapy is to put clients firmly in charge of their own lives. But if they can’t be assertive, their lives are not truly their own.

Much of the time, clients come into the therapy room feeling caught in painful, intractable conflicts with those around them that leave them feeling hurt, angry, and helpless. And more often than not, these situations persist because clients are attempting the impossible. They are trying to change what everyone else is doing. And it doesn’t work.

But being assertive doesn’t mean attempting to control the behavior of others — it’s about controlling our own actions. By helping clients develop their assertiveness skills, you can help them build healthy communication styles, stand their ground and become less buffeted by what everyone else expects of them, and effectively navigate conflicts in their relationships with less hostility. And you can teach them how to live and interact with other people without losing themselves in the process.

Most clinicians have been shown the necessity and value of assertiveness, healthy communication, and boundaries at some point in their education. However, most clinical programs include little or no instruction on how to actually build assertiveness skills. Essentially, you’ve probably been taught the rationale, but often not the technique.

That’s the rationale behind this course designed to teach clinicians the specific skills involved in assertive communication and how to help clients master those skills.

About the Course

In this course I teach you not only the importance of assertiveness skills, but how to impart those skills to your clients in an experiential way.

You’ll explore the four basic styles of communication (assertive, passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, plus a fifth: passive-to-aggressive alternator) and the motives and beliefs that drive them. You’ll learn about specific barriers that prevent clients and clinicians alike from using an assertive style, including:

  • How stress can pull people away from assertive responding
  • Social history and the unchanging, rigid expectations for others to act “how they always have”
  • The ways that beliefs — such as “assertive people are obnoxious” or “politeness means being a pushover” — shape behavior

And during these experiential sessions, you’ll practice specific action-oriented strategies to overcome those barriers. With these tools, clients will be able to recognize their own communication style and identify what is stopping them from being assertive.

With the techniques you’ll gain from this course, you’ll be able to train your clients to navigate boundary-challenging scenarios — such as saying “no,” giving and receiving feedback, making requests, and dealing with conflict — while feeling less threatened and staying true to themselves. And you’ll be able to help clients establish and maintain good interpersonal boundaries and cultivate more fulfilling relationships.

Throughout the course, you will be invited to perform the exercises in your own life as a way to fully embrace the material and prepare to apply it in a clinical setting. And you may discover how these skills can benefit you and your practice as well.

This course is normally offered as 4 two-hour sessions. But if this does not suit your group or population, alternatives can be devised.

Feedback on this Course (from an edition in fall 2022)

About the course:

"The class was light and there was humor mixed in."

"The materials and presentation - it seems its an obvious topic, but it is not!"

"Gained new insights and tools that have already been beneficial in my professional work with clients as well as in my personal life."

"The use of exercises and asking the participants to do homework from the jump. I am a hands-on learner and so this was helpful for me."

Helpful features:

"Learning about the approaches, a new way to phrase assertive communication skills, the handouts to use in session with clients and the group layout for teaching."

"I really appreciated the experiential part of the workshop and have sent the worksheets or worked on skill with multiple clients since the course started."

"Very useful information (I have already been using it with clients), and the presenter was very engaging and knowledgable."

"The exercises to help others w/ assertiveness."

"It was amazing! It was the small details that I learned which really matter. I could use it right away."

"The specifics of how to actual train assertiveness in session, including handouts etc."

"It was all useful. but most helpful was examples of how to use different styles effectively."

"The fact that it was very interactive."

About the presenter:

"[Paterson's] energy level was infectious and held my interest. Completing trainings online can drain my energy and attention but he presented the information in a very entertaining way."

"Knowledgeable with regard to subject matter, group session, presentation, and what I found unique about learning with Randy is that he's very animated!"

"I loved how frank and open he was."

"Randy was so engaging and this is the first presentation that I have found my self laughing out loud (glad I was muted). I also purchased the work book and also great examples that were funny! thus making the training and work book nice to use."

"I often get bored in online trainings, but I was not bored at all in an 8 hour training with Randy."

"[Most liked] the interactivity of the course."

Interested in Hosting a Workshop in Your Region? Click here.


Suite 718
2525 Willow Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 3N8
Tel: (604) 871-0490


Open Weekdays
Click here to get directions