Unconditional positive regard [UPR] is one of the six core conditions of person centred therapy, developed by Carl Rogers and it can often be misunderstood.
The six core conditions required for a person centred therapeutic relationship outlined by Carl Rogers are:-
1. Two persons are in psychological contact.
2. The first, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable or anxious.
3. The second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship.
4. The therapist experiences unconditional positive regard for the client.
5. The therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavours to communicate this experience to the client.
6. The communication to the client of the therapists' empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved.
We briefly touched upon two of these six core conditions, empathy and congruence in previous blog posts.
But today we're asking what is Unconditional Positive Regard?
Is it just about liking someone unconditionally, with no strings attached?
Is it about listening to them, nodding and smiling at what they're saying?
UPR is so much more than liking someone unconditionally, or listening and smiling at them while they talk.
UPR is an attitude.
One of the things that always comes up when we're unpacking UPR, is 'how can I have UPR for someone who has done terrible things?'
"I could never like them, or I don't approve of what they have done."
This is where confusion lies because in essence - UPR is not about 'approving' of what they have done.
UPR is fundamentally respecting them as a human being and accepting that they're doing the best they can in whichever way they possibly can.
It is about valuing the person as doing their best to move forward in their lives constructively and respecting their right to self-determination no matter what they choose.
As a counsellor we accept the client unconditionally and non-judgementally and the client is therefore free to explore all thoughts and feelings, positive or negative, without danger of rejection or condemnation.
More importantly, the client is free to explore and to express without having to do anything in particular or meet any particular standards of behaviour to ‘earn’ positive regard from the counsellor.
Feel free to comment below, we'd love to hear from you. Why not ask yourself this in your Reflective Journal?