top of page
  • Writer's picturemarti mcginnis

Unconditional Positive Regard in Therapeutic Art Sessions

In the realm of therapeutic practices, the term "Unconditional Positive Regard" (UPR) has emerged as a cornerstone for fostering a nurturing and transformative environment. As we delve into the depths of this profound concept, we uncover its hallmarks, explore its manifold benefits, and understand why therapeutic art facilitators find it indispensable in their sessions.

What is Unconditional Positive Regard?

Unconditional Positive Regard, coined by the eminent psychologist Carl Rogers, is a fundamental concept in humanistic psychology. It denotes an attitude of complete acceptance, warmth, and non-judgment towards an individual, irrespective of their thoughts, actions, or experiences. In simpler terms, it's about extending genuine empathy and respect without any conditions.

Hallmark Traits of Unconditional Positive Regard:

  1. Non-Judgmental Acceptance: One of the key traits of UPR is the ability to suspend judgment. Therapeutic art facilitators practicing UPR create a safe space where clients feel free from criticism or evaluation. This absence of judgment encourages clients to express themselves authentically, fostering a deeper connection with their inner selves.

  2. Empathetic Understanding: Empathy is the bedrock of Unconditional Positive Regard. It involves actively listening to clients, understanding their emotions, and validating their experiences. Therapeutic art facilitators employing UPR convey a profound sense of empathy, promoting a therapeutic alliance built on trust and emotional safety.

  3. Genuine Regard: UPR goes beyond mere tolerance; it involves genuine care and respect for the individual. Therapeutic art facilitators embody this authenticity by valuing the inherent worth of their clients. This authentic regard becomes a catalyst for self-exploration and growth within the therapeutic process.

unconditional positive regard illustration

Benefits of Unconditional Positive Regard:

  1. Enhanced Self-Exploration: UPR creates an atmosphere where clients feel free to explore their thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment. This freedom facilitates a deeper understanding of oneself and promotes personal growth.

  2. Increased Self-Esteem: Experiencing unconditional positive regard contributes to the development of a positive self-image. Clients feel validated and accepted, fostering a sense of self-worth that can be pivotal in overcoming challenges.

  3. Improved Communication: The non-judgmental and empathetic nature of UPR fosters open communication between the facilitator and the client. This open dialogue becomes a powerful tool for addressing underlying issues and working towards solutions.

  4. Establishment of Trust: Trust is a crucial element in any therapeutic relationship. UPR builds a foundation of trust, as clients feel secure and confident in the facilitator's genuine acceptance. This trust becomes instrumental in navigating the therapeutic journey collaboratively.

Why Therapeutic Art Facilitators Use Unconditional Positive Regard:

  1. Unlocking Artistic Expression: Therapeutic art often serves as a medium for self-expression. Unconditional Positive Regard provides the emotional safety required for clients to unleash their creativity and communicate their thoughts and emotions through artistic endeavors.

  2. Building a Therapeutic Alliance: The alliance between the facilitator and the client is paramount in therapeutic art sessions. UPR establishes a strong bond, allowing the facilitator to guide the client through their artistic process with sensitivity and support.

  3. Addressing Resistance and Fear: Clients may face resistance or fear when delving into deep-seated emotions through art. Unconditional Positive Regard creates a supportive atmosphere that encourages clients to confront and overcome these barriers, promoting healing and growth.

In the realm of therapeutic art facilitation (what Art For Me is all about), Unconditional Positive Regard stands as a guiding principle, transforming sessions into spaces of acceptance, understanding, and growth. As facilitators embrace and embody UPR, they pave the way for clients to embark on profound journeys of self-discovery through the transformative power of art.


  1. Rogers, C. (1957). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 21(2), 95-103.

  2. Kirschenbaum, H., & Henderson, V. L. (1989). The Carl Rogers Reader. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

  3. Landfield, A. W. (1978). Unconditional positive regard: Its nature, effects, and uses. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46(3), 456-465.


bottom of page