Unconditional they are despite what they say

Unconditional positive regard is an important aspect of many forms of psychotherapy. Learn more about the definition of unconditional positive regard, learn how to apply this concept to your life, and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Unconditional Positive Regard Defined

Unconditional positive regard (UPR) is a term credited to humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers and is used in client-centered therapy.

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Practicing unconditional positive regard means accepting and respecting others as they are without judgment or evaluation. This is different from unconditional love; unconditional positive regard does not require love or affection – it simply refers to acceptance of others whether you like them or not. Unconditional positive regard can be misunderstood as being nice, pleasant, or agreeable with others; however, unconditional positive regard is not an action towards others. Rather, it’s more like a feeling or mindset.

Application of Unconditional Positive Regard

Unconditional positive regard encourages us to share our thoughts, feelings, and actions with others without fear. When working with a client using unconditional positive regard, a therapist might respond to the client’s negative behavior by focusing on the feelings associated with the action rather than the action itself.

As a result, a client feels free to try things out and make mistakes, because the client knows he or she will be accepted no matter what. For example, children may become more likely to explore their environments and discover new things about the world they live in when they don’t fear judgment from their parents because of their behavior.UPR is not withdrawn if you do something wrong or make a mistake. It is believed that people who are able to self-actualize (to realize one’s full potential) are more likely to have received unconditional positive regard from others, especially their parents, in childhood. Conditional positive regard, on the other hand, means that praise and approval depend on actions; for example, a person subject to conditional positive regard might believe, ‘If I win the game, people will love me.’ It is believed that people who constantly seek approval from others or have negative views about themselves are likely to have experienced conditional positive regard as a child, and, therefore, they continue to seek approval from others based on their actions as adults.

Lesson Summary

Unconditional positive regard means accepting others for who they are despite what they say or do.

It is one of the most important components of establishing a strong therapeutic relationship between a therapist and client. It was coined by Carl Rogers, who believed that when we receive unconditional positive regard from others, we are more likely to feel good about ourselves and make risky decisions in life. Conversely, when we do not receive unconditional positive regard, we are more likely to view ourselves negatively and seek approval from others based on our actions.

Learning Outcomes

Once you’ve completed this lesson, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe unconditional positive regard and identify its purpose to psychotherapy
  • Recall who coined the concept and his beliefs on its importance
  • Distinguish between unconditional positive regard and conditional positive regard

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