Positive regard is the need to be liked, prized, or accepted by another person. When this need exists without any conditions or qualifications, unconditional positive regard occurs (Rogers, 1980). Therapists have unconditional positive regard when they are "experiencing a warm, positive and accepting attitude toward what is the client" (Rogers, 1961, p. 62). The attitude is without possessiveness, without evaluations, and without reservations.
A therapist with unconditional positive regard toward a client will show a non-possessive warmth and acceptance, not an effusive, effervescent persona. To have nonpossessive warmth means to care about another without smothering or owning that person. It includes the attitude "Because I care about you, I can permit you to be autonomous and independent of my evaluations and restrictions. You are a separate person with your own feelings and opinions regarding what is right or wrong. The fact that I care for you does not mean that I must guide you hi making choices, but that I can allow you to be yourself and to decide what is best for you." This khid of permissive attitude earned for Rogers the undeserved reputation of behig passive or nondirective in therapy, but a client-centered therapist must be actively involved in a relationship with the client.
Unconditional positive regard means that therapists accept and prize their clients without any restrictions or reservations and without regard to the clients' behavior. Although therapists may value some client behaviors more than others, then positive regard remains constant and unwavering. Unconditional positive regard also means that therapists do not evaluate clients, nor do they accept one action and reject another. External evaluation, whether positive or negative, leads to clients' de-fensiveness and prevents psychological growth.
Although unconditional positive regard is a somewhat awkward term, all tlnee words are important. "Regard" means that there is a close relationship and that the therapist sees the client as an important person; "positive" indicates that the direction of the relationship is toward warm and caring feelings; and "unconditional" suggests that the positive regard is no longer dependent on specific client behaviors and does not have to be continually earned.
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