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Unconditional positive regard

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Unconditional positive regard (UPR) is a concept in client-centered therapy. Carl Rogers, who created client-centered therapy, designated unconditional positive regard as one of the three conditions were necessary for positive change, along with empathy and genuineness (congruence).

Unconditional positive regard means that implies the belief of the therapist (termed a counselor by Rogers) that the client is worthy and capable, yes, even when the client may not act or feel that way. According to the Rogers's theory, mental illness is often caused by the absence of love or by a defective kind of love that the client received as a child. By showing the client unconditional positive regard and acceptance, the therapist is providing the best possible conditions for personal growth to the client.

To practice unconditional positive regard, whilst maintaining congruence at all times, means that the therapist’s feedback has to be specific because it is no use the clinician merely saying that they care about the patient. They have to show and demonstrate the care with their actions. If a clinician finds it hard to unconditionally regard their patient in a positive light they need to keep in mind Rogers’ belief that all people have the internal resources required for personal growth and that it is the environment that can make the difference as to whether growth occurs. A patient’s past environment may have been such that patterns of behaviour were developed in order to survive in that environment. These patterns can become entrenched so that the patient continues to operate in the world with them even if they are no longer appropriate. It is usually an inappropriate pattern that makes it hard for the clinician to regard their clients positively. The clinician needs to feel for the person under those patterns and for the person who was damaged and then survived by adapting by developing the patterns that are no longer appropriate.

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