• Self-advocacy blog series part 1

How to take charge and change your life with self-advocacy

This is the first post in our self-advocacy series. In this series we’ll help you gain the confidence to make positive changes in your life with self-advocacy. 

Do you want to know your rights and speak up for yourself? Do you want to take charge, be more independent and build confidence? Do you want to make informed decisions to create positive change in your life and the lives of your loved ones?

Learning how to self-advocate can help you do so. 

What is self-advocacy? 

Self-advocacy is learning to speak up on your own behalf. Nobody else knows how you feel and what you need so it is up to you to take action to work towards change.

How can I use self-advocacy?

You can employ self-advocacy in a variety of ways and places. Use self-advocacy at your doctor’s office, at work, at your child’s school or anywhere you are receiving services. For example, if you have a concern about a specific service you are receiving you can use self-advocacy to initiate a complaint process.

Below are five steps to help guide you through the process of self-advocacy. Each step may take time so be patient with yourself along the way. 

5 steps to self-advocacy:

  1. Take responsibility and believe in yourself. You have the right to speak up for yourself and only you know what is best for you, therefore it is your responsibility to create change in your life. 
  2. Be organized. Know your rights, know what you want to speak-up about and gather any information that is required to do so.
  3. Develop a plan. Plan how you are going to speak-up, then practice to yourself, a family member or a close friend.
  4. Take action. Speak-up for yourself, using open communication while remaining respectful to others (read on for tips on balancing assertiveness and respect). 
  5. Seek support if needed. It is important to ask for help when you feel you need it.

Throughout the process of self-advocating, keep in mind that people are more receptive to courteous, open communication so it is important to be both assertive and respectful.  It is always helpful to gain allies along the way. 

How to be assertiveness and respectful:   

  • Be confident and courteous 
  • Be clear about what you want to say and how you want to say it
  • Gather as much information in advance as possible, that way you’ll feel confident and prepared
  • Remain organized and on topic (don’t be afraid to bring notes)
  • Assume the best of others 
  • Take the high ground 

Ways to ensure you are heard by people in decisions making positions: 

  • Make a phone call 
  • Write a letter 
  • Book an appointment 
  • Visit, write or call your elected representative 

The most effective self-advocacy is a process. Have you spoken up and seen positive results in your life? What helps you speak up for yourself? Tell us below or post on our Facebook page.

Stay tuned! 

If you are interested in learning more about positive communication, being assertive and remaining respectful, gathering information, making informed decisions and taking action, stay tuned – our self-advocacy series will go over these topics in more detail.


YWCA Single Mothers' Support programs in Abbotsford, Aldergrove, Maple Ridge, Surrey and the Tri-Cities are fully funded by a unique partnership among Coast Capital Savings, Envision Financial and Vancity credit unions. Programs in Vancouver are funded in part by the City of Vancouver.

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