Unconditional Positive Regard – What is its Meaning in Psychology?

Last Update on June 20, 2024 : Published on June 23, 2024
Unconditional Positive Regards

Are you a therapist, counselor, or social worker looking to help clients boost self-confidence and self-esteem? Or a parent, school teacher, coach, or mentor looking for ways to encourage children? You should learn about unconditional positive regard and how it can be implemented to improve self-worth.

In this post, we explain it in detail.

What Is Unconditional Positive Regard?

Unconditional positive regard (UPR), known as “client-centered therapy,” emphasizes the healing power of human connection. The term explains respecting an individual without any judgment. It does not matter whether you know the person or not. What matters is that you can accept the person and show unconditional positivity by keeping your feelings apart.

Unconditional Positive Regard in Psychology

Carl Rogers explained the term, and the sole purpose of it was to ensure that people could accept themselves as they were. Due to this, some might mistake it for love and care. Still, it is different, as unconditional positive regard allows people to be themselves without fearing rejection and acceptance by others.

Where there is a lack of unconditional positive regard or acceptance by loved ones, the person might hold negative thoughts about themselves. However, when it is the opposite, individuals accept themselves even when they make mistakes or fail to perform.

With UPR, people can experience self-realization and become aware of their deepest fears, which makes accepting oneself easy. This unconditional positive regard also helps develop healthy relationships with romantic partners, family, and friends. Also, it is a way to express empathy, support, and acceptance toward someone regardless of what they say or do.

Through this method, problems like procrastination, too much drinking, overeating, et cetera cannot be altered. Still, one can support one’s loved ones with compassion and understanding by bringing it into practice.

As people are wired to self-actualization, when they suffer from a painful experience, or someone blames them for everything that goes wrong, their growth is stopped. Unconditional positive regard restores this and shows that they are accepted, making the person feel safe.

Unconditional positive regard offers compassion to those who have done something wrong, like gambling, mistreating a friend, lying at work, or doing anything socially unacceptable. It responds with understanding rather than a judgment or preconceived notion about a person.  But this does not mean that any wrongdoings will be accepted.

it is accepting an individual without judgment harming their feelings or making them feel guilty or hopeless. This makes them become honest and know themselves better. It is a way to accept individuals with their faults and make them trust themselves even if they fail.

Example of Unconditional Positive Regard

To understand unconditional positive regard, let’s take an example: say you have a friend who has borrowed your newly bought car and brought it back with some scratches. If you follow unconditional positive regard instead of asking, “What did you do? What happened?” You will frame your sentence, “I see you feel bad about what happened. Would you like to tell me what went wrong?”

Everyone asks questions to collect information, but when the conditions are tense, asking a question can make the other person feel that you are judging or accusing. In such situations, instead of asking a straightforward question, show unconditional positive regard first and then ask a question. It becomes easy for the person to respond and feel open to sharing what is wrong.

Let’s take another example: a co-worker accidentally spilled coffee on your laptop, and you are so annoyed that you just want to shout.  However, instead of shouting, if you practice unconditional positive regard, you will frame your sentence like we all make mistakes. I understand this happened accidentally, but please be careful the next time. The choice of such assuring words will reduce the tension from the situation and make the person feel less anxious.

Different studies have been conducted to explain this, and researchers have found that unconditional positive regard helps people in different aspects of life. When a person feels motivated and confident, their inner enthusiasm is spiked. Conversely, they feel less secure, demotivated, and lack energy when criticized. Hence, if you want someone to succeed, show unconditional positive regard towards the person.

Challenges Faced When Showing Unconditional Positive Regard

Unconditional positive regard is a cornerstone of client-centered therapy, but putting it into practice can be challenging.  For example, if a therapist is working with a sex offender and instead of helping the person with the problem they are facing, the therapist starts to judge them for their profession. Instead of opening up, the client will feel guilty and might shut down.

In such cases, the therapist needs to keep personal bias at bay because if there is a preconceived notion or the therapist judges the client, things will not work. However, when the therapist uses unconditional positive regard, they can easily help the client by respecting them as human beings and seeing their problems as the challenge anyone can face.

When they keep such an attitude, the client will feel heard and can easily share their thoughts, feelings, and behavior openly with the therapist without being judged.  Also, there will be no fear of being accepted, and the information will flow freely, allowing the therapist to help the client positively.

A Word From CalmSage

Unconditional positive regard is essential in therapy and can help develop confidence and self-esteem. Opening up becomes easy when one sees a therapist who follows unconditional positive regard, and a foundation is laid based on trust and intimacy.  Also, accepting others without asking them to change becomes easy. Therefore, you should practice unconditional positive regard towards yourself to succeed in life.

 You extend an unconditional positive regard when you change how you look at things and yourself. Compassion towards yourself helps you deal with fear, shame, and guilt, helping you progress. You can easily associate unconditional positive regard with motivation, confidence, and authenticity.

Whether you want to run a marathon, write a book, or be confident enough to stand in front of others’ positive self-regard without any conditions, it will help you build all this and will always boost your confidence.

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