Unconditional Positive Regard
Unconditional 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.
- American Psychological Association. APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
Last Updated: 08-28-2015
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VioletSeptember 14th, 2016 at 7:10 PM
Understood more on UPR. Thanks for sharing this material.
Tracey CMarch 14th, 2017 at 1:32 PM
This resource has really helped me in my counselling course I’m doing, thankyou
RohitMay 10th, 2017 at 6:19 PM
will appreciate if the importance of UPR is added.
MichaelJune 25th, 2017 at 2:51 AM
I would have liked to see a couple of examples of UPR with the client and therapist
LauraJune 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?
MorganSeptember 19th, 2020 at 7:32 AM
Thanks for sharing, it is clear
samanthaJune 2nd, 2022 at 5:59 AM
like to have seen an example
sarahJune 12th, 2022 at 1:54 PM
This information has made me understand it better. Thank you.
CarolJuly 1st, 2022 at 11:25 AM
This information gave me real clarity.
stephenJuly 3rd, 2022 at 6:37 AM
Interesting to see how it may be used negatively if you are inexperienced !
philipJuly 19th, 2022 at 6:20 PM
UPR Counselling scenarios would be very helpful
skyeJuly 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.
jacquesSeptember 23rd, 2022 at 8:12 AM
I have learn some positive aspect of therapy that i wasn’t aware of i enjoyed it
JulieOctober 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
FilaOctober 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.
PAWELOctober 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.
MargaretOctober 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.
simoneOctober 17th, 2022 at 7:33 AM
I feel I have an understanding of upr now
NewtonOctober 28th, 2022 at 10:30 AM
Very Interesting understanding the both sides of the UPR.
DebraNovember 3rd, 2022 at 11:13 AM
I found this information very interesting and informative
FebruaryNovember 6th, 2022 at 1:05 PM
found this peace really useful thank you very much
roseNovember 21st, 2022 at 7:43 PM
improved my understanding of UPR. thank you.
MandyNovember 25th, 2022 at 3:21 PM
This has helped me to understand UPR a little more, thank you
ValNovember 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.
TabithaNovember 29th, 2022 at 9:16 AM
Very useful information
SarahNovember 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.
SelinaDecember 19th, 2022 at 5:42 AM
I found that this piece of writing really assisted me in understanding UPR
garyDecember 31st, 2022 at 7:53 AM
interesting and helpful information
NarrisahJanuary 14th, 2023 at 5:12 AM
Thank you for this enlightment of UPR in my studies
kinzaJanuary 23rd, 2023 at 3:47 PM
Thank you for interesting information
P KumarJanuary 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.
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