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

  • 4 comments
  • Leave a Comment
  • Violet

    Violet

    September 14th, 2016 at 7:10 PM

    Understood more on UPR. Thanks for sharing this material.

  • Tracey C

    Tracey C

    March 14th, 2017 at 1:32 PM

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

  • Rohit

    Rohit

    May 10th, 2017 at 6:19 PM

    will appreciate if the importance of UPR is added.

  • Michael

    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

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