Unconditional Positive Regard

arms-of-man-and-child-holding-handsUnconditional positive regard (UPR) is unconditional acceptance, love, or affection. The term is credited to the humanist psychologist Carl Rogers. It differs from unconditional love in that there need not be actual feelings of warmth and affection behind the attitude. Rather, unconditional positive regard requires that a person be warm and accepting even when another person has done something questionable. While most parents attempt to give their children unconditional love, few grant their children unconditional positive regard. Many therapists advocate giving their clients unconditional positive regard as part of the therapeutic process. UPR is most notably associated with person-centered therapy, or Rogerian therapy.

How Unconditional Positive Regard Works in Therapy

The demonstration of UPR from a therapist can encourage people to share their thoughts, feelings, and actions without fear of offending the therapist. A therapist might simply ask a client to expand on why he or she behaved in a particular manner, rather than condemning the person’s action or inquiring as to how the other person might have felt.

Some therapists believe that UPR can serve as a temporary substitute for parental love that may help clients gain confidence to explore their issues. This belief is heavily influenced by Sigmund Freud and is not popular among contemporary mental health professionals.

Drawbacks of Unconditional Positive Regard

UPR can be especially problematic in couples counseling, where couples often desire a referee who will tell them when they are doing something detrimental to the relationship. When clients feel that UPR in therapy is contrived, it may backfire. For example, some people want a therapist to tell them when they are doing something wrong, to bring awareness to the behavior.

UPR can be difficult for a therapist to sustain, particularly when a person is making negative or unhealthy choices on a recurring basis. Consequently, many therapists attempt to strike a balance by remaining positive, upbeat, and nonjudgmental while at the same time pointing out when a person’s actions are harmful to himself or herself or to others.

Reference:

  1. American Psychological Association. APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.

Last Updated: 08-28-2015

  • 91 comments
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  • Violet

    September 14th, 2016 at 7:10 PM

    Understood more on UPR. Thanks for sharing this material.

  • Tracey C

    March 14th, 2017 at 1:32 PM

    This resource has really helped me in my counselling course I’m doing, thankyou

  • Rohit

    May 10th, 2017 at 6:19 PM

    will appreciate if the importance of UPR is added.

  • Michael

    June 25th, 2017 at 2:51 AM

    I would have liked to see a couple of examples of UPR with the client and therapist

  • Laura

    June 25th, 2018 at 8:55 AM

    What if. While using UPR, A client becomes attatched, but then the therapist leaves the practice.. how does that contribute to the healing process, wouldn’t those type of actions regress the individual?

  • Morgan

    September 19th, 2020 at 7:32 AM

    Thanks for sharing, it is clear

  • samantha

    June 2nd, 2022 at 5:59 AM

    like to have seen an example

  • sarah

    June 12th, 2022 at 1:54 PM

    This information has made me understand it better. Thank you.

  • Carol

    July 1st, 2022 at 11:25 AM

    This information gave me real clarity.

  • stephen

    July 3rd, 2022 at 6:37 AM

    Interesting to see how it may be used negatively if you are inexperienced !

  • philip

    July 19th, 2022 at 6:20 PM

    UPR Counselling scenarios would be very helpful

  • skye

    July 24th, 2022 at 12:37 PM

    helps you to understand that it is good to build up a relationship with your clients to help them to gain trust and know that you are there for them, also if you knew you were leaving you would try to make sure that you would introduce your clients to another theripist befor you left.

  • jacques

    September 23rd, 2022 at 8:12 AM

    I have learn some positive aspect of therapy that i wasn’t aware of i enjoyed it

  • Julie

    October 3rd, 2022 at 1:15 PM

    Thank you so much for this am starting to understand UPR more which will help me in my course, I have a long way to go but this information will stand me in good-sted for the future

  • Fila

    October 8th, 2022 at 1:51 AM

    This has given me a greater understanding of UPR allowing me to work on building my knowledge of client and therapist relationships.

  • PAWEL

    October 14th, 2022 at 12:30 PM

    It gives me an information about how to connect with the client and and more skills to believe in him and his/her better feeling.

  • Margaret

    October 15th, 2022 at 11:32 AM

    Thank you for explaining UPR. I have very limited knowledge of the skills required for counselling and this has been very helpful.

  • simone

    October 17th, 2022 at 7:33 AM

    I feel I have an understanding of upr now

  • Newton

    October 28th, 2022 at 10:30 AM

    Very Interesting understanding the both sides of the UPR.

  • Debra

    November 3rd, 2022 at 11:13 AM

    I found this information very interesting and informative

  • February

    November 6th, 2022 at 1:05 PM

    found this peace really useful thank you very much

  • rose

    November 21st, 2022 at 7:43 PM

    improved my understanding of UPR. thank you.

  • Mandy

    November 25th, 2022 at 3:21 PM

    This has helped me to understand UPR a little more, thank you

  • Val

    November 28th, 2022 at 5:58 PM

    Unconditional Positive Regard is also present in various spiritual teachings dating back centuries and millenia. It has to become a way of life to be fully embraced also as a counsellor.

  • Tabitha

    November 29th, 2022 at 9:16 AM

    Very useful information

  • Sarah

    November 29th, 2022 at 2:02 PM

    This makes prefect sense and interesting that Freud was heavily involved as he was a trail brazed in human reactions, it’s a shame too many professions get focused around some of his other theories rather than looking at the amount of knowledge, perception and behaviour he developed to supporting human behaviour, attitudes and understanding of others.

  • Selina

    December 19th, 2022 at 5:42 AM

    I found that this piece of writing really assisted me in understanding UPR

  • gary

    December 31st, 2022 at 7:53 AM

    interesting and helpful information

  • Deborah

    August 14th, 2023 at 11:21 AM

    This content helped me understand the best way to react to certain situations.

  • Narrisah

    January 14th, 2023 at 5:12 AM

    Thank you for this enlightment of UPR in my studies

  • kinza

    January 23rd, 2023 at 3:47 PM

    Thank you for interesting information

  • P Kumar

    January 25th, 2023 at 3:41 AM

    That’s a valid concern. And a manifestation of attachment is “transference” I think. That’s from the TV series Frasier. Some of my thoughts are as follows. Closing a session with a client in an orderly fashion and by making them aware of the prospect of discontinuation is the way to go – gives them a chance to brace themselves for the upcoming change. Also showing them a future and a way forward from that change can help alleviate the anxiety of the perceived detachment and any associated pain.

  • Angela

    February 14th, 2023 at 6:41 AM

    Interesting reading and information. Thank you.

  • kirsty

    February 21st, 2023 at 12:11 PM

    loved the explanation thankyou!

  • Roya

    March 2nd, 2023 at 4:57 AM

    What I understood applying UPR is depending on therapist common sense to where and when to apply this method or skill.

  • Wilson

    March 8th, 2023 at 1:25 PM

    unconditional positive regard depends on the therapist’s behavior and attitude toward the client is in a very friendly environment, not judgemental but welcoming with warmness and accepting the client no matter what they have done.

  • Alison

    March 10th, 2023 at 5:23 PM

    Very interesting

  • Ashleigh-Nicole

    March 20th, 2023 at 2:00 PM

    this has given such an insight to things. thank you for sharing and helping us learn more x

  • Timothy

    April 3rd, 2023 at 10:43 AM

    yeh, found that UPR is an exellent way of determining a trustworthy relationship with your therapist. Thanks for heads up in this mind bogaling field.

  • katie

    April 5th, 2023 at 8:45 AM

    Really interesting to read about this, in a situation i am involved in currently this is 100% what is being used for someone.
    It has helped me to understand why it is used, and how it may help.
    Thanks.

  • Thomas

    April 8th, 2023 at 7:04 AM

    Interesting and very helpful to understand UPR better and how to be empathic and caring enough and accepting a client as they are so they develop trust and finding a personal balance to also tell a client of repeated harmful or negative actions.

  • Amy

    April 11th, 2023 at 7:46 AM

    Really interesting

  • Lucy

    April 12th, 2023 at 12:14 PM

    I found this insight into UPR extremely helpful- especially at this early stage in the course.

  • Sally

    April 13th, 2023 at 3:27 AM

    Useful information to assist with completing my assignment

  • Mr Stephen

    April 18th, 2023 at 4:57 AM

    Ok very good to learn.and better understanding with knowing how to .progress when coming across different cases and behaviour .

  • Miss S

    April 24th, 2023 at 3:07 PM

    Learning to separate my own feelings and put UPR into practise will put me in a strong position

  • Shaunna

    May 3rd, 2023 at 1:13 PM

    This piece has proved very helpful in my understanding of UPR and has been very useful in carry out my councelling skills coursework.

  • Jacalyn

    May 5th, 2023 at 2:34 PM

    Good clarification of UPR

  • Justine

    May 19th, 2023 at 8:36 AM

    Very interesting leaning about a subject that I was not to familiar With.

  • Markham

    May 23rd, 2023 at 8:18 AM

    good insight of UPR… will help with the course

  • Shareen

    May 24th, 2023 at 1:51 PM

    this has really helped me understand UPR quickly without getting confused

  • Steph

    May 24th, 2023 at 3:00 PM

    Really interesting and informative

  • Courtney

    May 27th, 2023 at 10:33 PM

    Thanks for explaining ,great understanding

  • Mary

    May 31st, 2023 at 5:26 AM

    Having read the piece on UPR I have reflected on the past sessions from my work with pupils.
    Some examples would have also been helpful

  • William

    June 2nd, 2023 at 4:49 AM

    Really helpful

  • Nicole

    June 2nd, 2023 at 10:32 AM

    Great insight into UPR, really helpful.

  • Mrs Chiyedza

    June 7th, 2023 at 3:26 PM

    Such a valid skill,

  • Chery

    July 16th, 2023 at 1:19 PM

    Good reading

  • yasmin

    July 19th, 2023 at 4:05 PM

    I really found this to be insightful and informative and really helpful for my counselling course I am currently completing

  • yasmin

    July 20th, 2023 at 6:50 AM

    I found this to be really insightful and clear way of understanding UPR

  • Toyin

    July 22nd, 2023 at 4:55 AM

    It has enable me to understand more about UPR and how to treat my clients

  • Alan

    July 28th, 2023 at 11:00 AM

    I find this is something I did without realising. UPR is definitely something that I will use.

  • Kristian

    July 30th, 2023 at 8:34 AM

    This is quite interesting to know. And from reading before on previous pages about the difference between empathy and sympathy I feel that the UPR process makes a lot of sense. For me certainly you can detach yourself from the person but still be connected as your understanding in a situation is not attached to you.

  • Teresa

    August 24th, 2023 at 5:57 AM

    Great website very helpful

  • Emma

    September 7th, 2023 at 3:55 PM

    very helpful website

  • Lorna

    September 9th, 2023 at 7:21 AM

    A couple of scenarios would be of benefit of a positive and negative situation. It makes sense that it’s not suitable for certain situations.

  • Neil

    September 11th, 2023 at 2:14 PM

    Very interesting how this in some cases works but not others.

  • Toni

    September 15th, 2023 at 11:30 AM

    Quite insightful, UPR very necessary where the client is overwhelmed with guilt and requires a non-judgmental listener

  • Angela

    September 28th, 2023 at 3:10 AM

    UPR is a useful skills to enable a client to disclose thoughts and feelings without judgement and expand and explore on them.

  • Rachel

    October 20th, 2023 at 11:45 AM

    I found this really helpful, I took notes and will use them in future.

  • Mark

    December 20th, 2023 at 2:21 PM

    Very useful to know.

  • Ishrat

    December 22nd, 2023 at 8:19 AM

    Great understanding of UPR and also why it could fail.

  • Golding

    January 8th, 2024 at 6:51 PM

    Very Informative!

  • Oma

    January 10th, 2024 at 12:34 PM

    Thanks for this insight, UPR is a skill l hope to be using in the future

  • Sharon

    January 11th, 2024 at 7:50 AM

    This is a great introduction to a beginner.

  • Ron

    January 11th, 2024 at 8:03 AM

    I appreciate now that the best Counsellor I had in some counselling i received in the past used UPR right from the getgo. It definitely worked on me and she used it throughout the therapy

  • David

    January 17th, 2024 at 7:56 AM

    Interesting. if used properly U P R is a tool that can be incorporated into conversation to get the client to open up and help to attain an open conversation to allow paraphrasing to flow allowing an open basis.

  • Nathan

    January 24th, 2024 at 9:24 AM

    My understanding of UPR is that the acceptance and support of a person as well as keeping an upbeat positive attitude may need you to add different skills depending on the session but continue with the skills mentioned.

  • Jackie

    January 29th, 2024 at 2:06 PM

    I understood it more when unconditional love was used as a lose example. It helped to explain what UPR is, but that it is slightly different to unconditional love that is given to ones one child. Thank you

  • Mandy

    February 5th, 2024 at 8:54 AM

    Thank you, I found this extremely useful.

  • Elaine

    February 5th, 2024 at 1:00 PM

    it makes sense, and very useful to know.

  • Barbara

    February 7th, 2024 at 3:10 PM

    found this informative

  • Miss G.

    February 11th, 2024 at 7:49 AM

    Assisted with my study, to make healthy decision and set healthy boundaries towards the goals.

  • Lesley

    February 15th, 2024 at 11:44 AM

    Very clear and really well explained

  • Claire

    March 2nd, 2024 at 3:57 PM

    Good explanation although slightly brief it would be great to read some more examples

  • Barbra

    April 10th, 2024 at 5:24 AM

    The skill is good for clients to express themselves with no fear and it also helps the therapist to get more information. The prompts will help the client find their own answers.

  • Claire

    April 17th, 2024 at 10:16 AM

    Interesting to know the difference of techniques used in order to help others

  • Valerie

    April 28th, 2024 at 10:17 AM

    The value of Carl Rogers thinking has stood the test of time. He was revolutionary in the 1950s and 1960s. It is well worth reading his books

  • Christine

    May 8th, 2024 at 1:19 PM

    I trust that this knowledge will make me a good counsellor.

  • Christine

    May 8th, 2024 at 1:20 PM

    Very informative

  • Christine

    May 8th, 2024 at 1:21 PM

    This is helping expanding my knowledge

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