Who emphasized the importance of unconditional positive regard in healthy personality development?

Who emphasized the importance of unconditional positive regard in healthy personality development?

In this article, we will answer the following question: Who emphasized the importance of unconditional positive regard in healthy personality development?

We will explain the concept of unconditional positive regard. We will also present you the key concepts of Rogerian therapy: empathy, congruence, reiteration and personality changes.

Who emphasized the importance of unconditional positive regard in healthy personality development?

The psychologist who emphasized the importance of unconditional positive regard in healthy personality development was Carl Rogers. 

Among the three growth facilitating conditions that Carl Rogers mentions, unconditional positive regard is the least evoked, while empathy and congruence have always been the subject of long debates. 

Unconditional positive regard is rarely mentioned as if it were an obvious condition and easy to carry out.

However, it is not natural to feel unconditional positive regard towards someone in advance. On the contrary, judgment or evaluation is frequently present in human relationships.

Then how can a psychotherapist experience unconditional positive regard towards his/her clients?

What is unconditional positive regard? 

To begin, let’s remember what Carl Rogers understands by unconditional positive regard.

 According to his terms, it deals with a warm, positive and receptive attention to the client; but one non-possessive request. Rogers also speaks of acceptance, understanding by it, an acceptance of the client’s positive feelings, but also of his negative, “bad”, painful, anxious or “abnormal” feelings.

Specifically, it is an absence of judgment on the other. It is the acceptance of the other as it is.

For some, that means acceptance of the essence of the person, beyond her mask or the image one projects; for others, it means acceptance of the other in the present moment, in the instant of the relationship (Kairos time). 

As for the principle of unconditionality, it means that acceptance is not conditioned by this or that behaviour and it is always maintained, without condition.

For example, a mother’s love for her son. Even if he kills, rapes, or whatever he does, maternal love remains intact. As Rogers writes, “It is a positive feeling that externalizes without reservation or judgment.

As we can see,  unconditional positive regard is relatively simple to define. 

However, the question of its implementation remains undefined. How easy is it to implement unconditional positive regard in our relationships with others? 

The difficulty comes from the fact that unconditional positive regard is not an attitude like empathy or congruence, but it is a feeling over which we have no real control.

Carl Rogers: Therapy and Humanist Theory

Carl Rogers’ therapy is based on non-directivity.

The theoretical point of view of Rogerian theory is based on the personality based on the self.

He laid the foundations of current theories on cognitive schemas of the self. 

Regarding the therapeutic point of view, it is based on non-directivity in the session.

The initial method of non-directivity later evolved towards the phenomenological or client-centred one, and finally, it assumed more existentialist approaches.

What is non-directivity?

Non-directivity is the therapist’s attitude reduced to the maximum. Confidence in the person to develop and grow (actualizing tendency, self-realization) and to decide the course of action in Carl Rogers’ therapy.

The responsibility for the process does not lie with the therapist but with the client.

It is the patient who knows what affects him, where to go, what are his fundamental problems and what are his forgotten experiences.

I understood that, unless I needed to demonstrate my own intelligence and knowledge, it would be best to trust the direction that the patient himself gives to the process “(C. Rogers,” The process of becoming a person “)

Finally, Carl Rogers’ therapy-based research investigates the therapeutic process. Specifically, the necessary and sufficient conditions for therapeutic change and the changes made after the process. In 1943 the first doctoral thesis based on recorded interviews was read.

In the following two decades, there was a significant research effort carried out by a large group of followers.

To do this, use tools such as:

• Recordings of therapeutic interviews.

• Categorizations of clinical judges.

Fundamental aspects regarding the therapeutic process in Carl Rogers’ therapy

A) Necessary conditions, on the part of the therapist for therapeutic change:

Empathy in Carl Rogers’ therapy

Empathy in Rogerian therapy refers to the ability to perceive the other person’s internal frame of reference.

That is, to perceive customer experiences and their meanings. Any evaluating or evaluative element about it is rejected.

Empathy favours the client’s self-exploration since the subject can gradually include his experiences in the field of consciousness, in a non-threatening climate.

Unconditional positive regard

Unconditional positive regard or consideration affirms that there should be no rejection of the patient’s behaviour.

In Rogerian therapy, this condition is met when the facilitator esteems and appreciates the client as a person regardless of the criteria that could be applied to their behaviour.

This condition facilitates the creation of a non-threatening climate conducive to self-exploration in Carl Rogers’ therapy.

Congruence or authenticity

Congruence or authenticity in Rogerian therapy is of great value.

The therapist must be basically aware of his own inner experience, of his feelings, attitudes … And of its meaning, and can communicate it if he considers it appropriate.

B) Techniques developed in Carl Rogers therapy

The therapist must communicate these attitudes using the reflex technique.

The reflex technique (reiteration) in Rogerian therapy

The reflex technique consists of the reformulation in a clearer way of what the client tries to communicate, excluding any interpretative element on the part of the therapist.

Advantages:

  • The therapist shows the client that they have listened to him attentively and with interest and that they have understood him.
  • Reflection helps the client focus on their own experience and pick up on aspects never before perceived.
  • The reflex response prevents the therapist from making judgments about the client and makes him feel accepted without reservation.
  • The reformulation works as a mirror, which allows the person to see himself and control the objectivity of his own perceptions.
  • The reformulation allows the therapist to verify that her interventions accurately reflect the client’s mood and thinking.
  • The reformulation can try to make explicit confusing content, offering the client the possibility of clarification.

Reiteration – It is used to re-propose the content expressed by the client, without adding anything new with the intention of signifying what is expressed. That is, it consists of summarizing, repeating the last words, nodding, etc …

Personality changes through Carl Rogers therapy

Most of these changes have been investigated, from which their existence has been empirically verified.

  1. Changes in the concept of oneself

The client acquires a higher degree of positive consideration for himself, thanks to the integration of previously rejected experiences.

The unconditional positive consideration of the therapist has favoured this integration; empathy has helped to recognize her own feelings and the therapist’s consistency has served as a model for introjecting this attitude.

  1.  Change in the evaluation locus

A shift occurs from the consideration of other people’s values to the assumption of their own. The increased confidence that is stimulated through Rogerian therapy favours self-direction and the perception that your behaviour is under your control.

  1. Change in the relationships with others

The perception and appreciation of others are made more tolerant and realistic thanks to Rogerian therapy.

  1. Change in defences and in the way of experiencing

The client becomes more open, consistent, and less defensive about her experience. Decreases your vulnerability to threat thanks to greater consistency and flexibility.

  1. Changes in the maturity and organization of the personality

The person becomes more objective and realistic in her perceptions, more capable of solving her problems and tolerating frustration. The demands of your ideal self are more in line with your possibilities. Their behaviour becomes more creative and adapted.

The key points of therapeutic change can also be formulated through what is abandoned and what begins:

  • Stop feeling the “shoulds”
  • Failure to meet imposed expectations
  • Stop striving to please others
  • Begin to orient yourself
  • Start accepting others
  • Begin to trust yourself
  • Start opening up to the experience
  • Begin to be all the complexity of the self
  • Stop using “masks”. 

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Conclusions

In this article, we answered the following question: Who emphasized the importance of unconditional positive regard in healthy personality development? We explained the concept of unconditional positive regard. We also presented you the key concepts of Rogerian therapy: empathy, congruence, reiteration and personality changes.

The psychologist who emphasized the importance of unconditional positive regard in healthy personality development was Carl Rogers. 

Unconditional positive regard or consideration affirms that there should be no rejection of the patient’s behaviour. In Rogerian therapy, this condition is met when the facilitator esteems and appreciates the client as a person regardless of the criteria that could be applied to their behaviour.

This condition facilitates the creation of a non-threatening climate conducive to self-exploration in Carl Rogers’ therapy.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know!

Further reading

On Becoming a Person, by Carl R. Rogers 

Client-Centred Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory, by Carl R. Rogers

Way of Being, by Carl Rogers 

Significant Aspects of Client-Centered Therapy, by Carl Rogers

On Personal Power: Inner Strength and Its Revolutionary Impact (Psychology/self-help), by Carl Rogers (Auth

References

Cloninger, C. R., & Cloninger, K. M. (2011). Person-centred Therapeutics. International journal of person-centred medicine, 1(1), 43–52.

Davis O.C., Nguyen T.T. (2017) Conditional Positive Regard. In: Zeigler-Hill V., Shackelford T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham

Farber, Barry & Doolin, Erin. (2011). Positive Regard and Affirmation. 

Murphy, D., Joseph, S., Demetriou, E., & Karimi-Mofrad, P. (2020). Unconditional Positive Self-Regard, Intrinsic Aspirations, and Authenticity: Pathways to Psychological Well-Being. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 60(2), 258–279.

The Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Therapeutic Personality Change Rogers, Carl R.  University of Chicago

Wong KM, Cloninger CR. A Person-Centered Approach to Clinical Practice. Focus (Am Psychiatr Publ). 2010;8(2):199-215. 

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