Unconditional Positive Regard- What is it?

Unconditional Positive Regard, What is it and its importance?

Do you know why you feel so attached to your therapist more than your family members? You might even feel an emotional connection to them rather than your close ones. You may express and share a lot with your therapist than your actual friends and even feel safe with your therapist. That’s the reason why you should choose therapy if you are suffering from something. The answer to your questions can be explained by the use of psychology. Have you ever heard about Unconditional Positive Regard? It is a psychological term that was first used by Carl Roger who by profession was a humanistic psychologist. He believed that each individual had a goal in his or her life that they wished to achieve. He supported the free will of individuals and believed that the behavior of an individual was driven by his/her goals. And people always engage in self-actualization behavior.

According to him, Unconditional Positive Regard refers to the act of accepting individuals the way they are and accepting what was done by them in the past. Carl Rogers wanted psychologists and therapists to use this technique in therapy. Whenever the client expressed something completely inappropriate it was the duty of the therapist to accept those actions without any judgment. The therapist even supports some decisions of the client to make them feel safe and secure.

Unconditional positive regard was first used by Carl Rogers with his clients and after seeing drastic changes in them after therapy he stated it in his theory. He developed his famous client-centered therapy which completely focused on the clients and was a non-directive therapy. In this type of therapy, the psychologist or therapist usually functions as a guide or a motivator for the client to understand and solve his / her problems. The client is the one who directs the therapy and leads the therapy forward while the therapist acts as a guiding force that helps the client to express his desires and feelings openly without judgment and fear.

The three principles that every psychologist or therapist needs to follow in client-centered therapy are-

  • To show unconditional positive regard to the client and make them feel safe.
  • To show empathy towards the clients even when the client is not willing to cooperate.
  • Be open to the client’s feelings and past behavior and listen without judgment.

Let’s understand unconditional positive regard in much more detail.

It means providing empathy and support to clients and accepting every good and bad behavior of the client. Carl Rogers describes it as a way of caring for your clients. Many may have experienced possessive care which is often exhibited by parents or partners. This type of care often leaves the individual exhausted and irritated. Rogers describes that his technique focuses on providing clients with health care. Whenever someone cares for us they expect us to behave in a certain way, think a certain way, and place conditions on us. But the care that was described by Carl Rogers does not place any expectations on the client/ person and they are free to have their thoughts and opinions that are different from the therapist.

This type of care is important for individuals to live a healthy life since they have been deprived of it since childhood. If the people with whom the client spends most of their time do not provide care, love, and support this can affect the client at a mental level and they would start feeling worthless and not worthy of love and care. This would thus deeply affect their mental health and would lead to codependency, fear of rejection, betrayal wounds, etc.

Healthy care is considered a form of love and this type of love can also be introduced in families at a young age to grow and nurture healthy children, who later in life won’t face problems like lack of confidence, fear of rejection, etc. If the child didn’t receive the created in child, thus they need therapy to release the trauma stored inside. If a child from a young age receives this type of love, then he wouldn’t possess those fears and would lead a healthy life.

To prove to you the importance of unconditional positive regard, let’s compare two children. One who was deprived of love and the other who was provided with unconditional positive regard.

  • Children deprived of love tend to have low esteem and feel less confident to express themselves while children born in healthy environments often tend to be more confident and express emotions.
  • Children deprived of love show poor concentration and are more vulnerable than children born in healthy families who tend to focus on objects rather than their surroundings. 
  • Children deprived of love often show aggression and apathy. They show fewer emotions and often feel detached from their close ones. While children born in healthy families understand emotion and show empathy to even strangers.
  • Children deprived of love often have a hard time forming healthy relationships with others and struggle to connect with them emotionally. While children born in healthy families have an easy time forming healthy connections and do show emotions.

These deprived children often aren’t able to function normally in their day-to-day life events and are prone to many psychological disorders like depression -due to extend loneliness and low self-esteem, ADHD- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder due to low concentration, and apathy, and antisocial disorder, etc.

When these children attend therapy and the psychologist provides them unconditional positive regard with a healthy environment the child feels safe and secure and thus feels worthy of love. 

The end goal of the therapy is to make the client understand the pool of resources they possess and the potential to lead a healthy life without depending on someone. When these clients get the appropriate amount of acceptance from their environment they finally start recognizing their potential.

How can therapy help?

Therapy can do miracles and help you release the stored trauma if you were deprived of unconditional positive regard.

Certain benefits of receiving unconditional positive regard in therapy include –

  • The reason to include unconditional positive regard in therapy is to give the client a safe environment where they can be vulnerable and express their deepest feelings without hesitation.
  • Due to the therapist’s constant support and acceptance, the client feels less fearful and more confident. They finally start accepting that their feelings matter. This leads to deeper feelings and emotions that surface up and are finally released by the client during the therapy.
  • This therapy focuses on indirect questioning which does not make the client feel targeted and the client answers them easily. These questions are less harmful but are capable of revealing the desired answers through which the therapist can understand the client even more.
  • Space is provided to the client to think. The therapist does not force the client to answer the questions. This helps build self-esteem in oneself and one’s thoughts and emotions.
  • Providing space to the clients helps them unlock their potential resources like standing up for themselves, accepting themselves, and not tolerating toxic behavior.
  • The therapist helps the client understand that they are a separate entity and their behavior does not define them.

When the therapy is over the clients gain an understanding of themselves and start accepting themselves.


Psychology as a subject should be made compulsory for each individual at their high school level. There are many people out there who are living miserably and are blaming themselves for their problems. This often leads to low self-esteem and eventually can lead to other mental disorders. People need to understand the importance of mental health and tap into theirs, once in a while.

Unconditional Positive Regard- What is it?

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