Carl Rogers

Annual Conference

Embracing And Incorporating Unconditional Positive Regard In Our Relationship With Others

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Our conference theme – Embracing and Incorporating Unconditional Positive Regard  In Our Relationship With Others seems particularly relevant given the turbulent events in recent weeks and their impact on the world. The destructive actions being released upon civilians is especially jarring; for many this brings up feelings of abhorrence, anger and disgust.  We find it difficult to remain neutral when confronted by actions which are so contrary to our fundamental values.

Although many of us are able to access our Authentic and Empathic selves, we can often find it challenging to be tolerant, respectful and Accepting toward those whose thoughts, values, attitudes and perspectives are different from ours.  This difficulty is intensified in the current environment, where we can find it difficult if not impossible to embrace unconditional positive regard for the perpetrators of these hostile acts. Our strong reactions can lead us to question the value and relevance of unconditional acceptance in this, and perhaps in a variety of other situations.

These doubts may lead to legitimate thoughts and questions which others may also share:

  • How deep is my commitment to living and acting in accordance with person centered practice? Do I need to  act / be this way all the time to consider myself person centered?
  • How can I separate my feelings about the person as a person from my feelings about their actions
  • Can I accept them as they are without accepting their behaviors?
  • Is it alright for me to attach consequences to behaviors I do not agree with, and still regard myself as Unconditional?
  • Are there social and political behaviors with malevolent consequences that we must judge and even condemn?
  • Are Empathy, Authenticity and Unconditional  Positive Regard skills to be practiced or values to be lived?
  • What impact can we expect from person centered practice in these tumultuous times?  
  • Can I, and others, acting together and apart, have an impact on the outcomes, make a difference?

Unconditional positive regard (UPR) can act as an antidote for the forces which separate us, allowing us to come together in a genuine, caring and respectful way. 

What is UPR? and why is it important?

  • Rogers regarded the three core conditions as being equally important and complementary.  At different times one or the other will be in the forefront. Although Empathy and Authenticity frequently receive the most attention, our theme is meant to draw attention to the very important role Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) plays in bringing us closer to one another in the face of differences.
  • Unconditional Positive Regard allows us to transcend differences by allowing us to accept others as people in the face of differences in attitudes, values, perspectives, beliefs, cultures and ideologies.  It allows us to recognize that our humanity manifests equally in our differences as well as in our similarities.  It opens us to the possibility of prizing and valuing these differences as part of our essential humanness.  It does not require anything of the other – granting them the same right to be themselves as we grant to ourselves.

People who are less familiar with Unconditional Positive Regard than with the other two core conditions – Empathy and Authenticity
may have some key questions or comments regarding its importance for them, such as the following:

  • What Is UPR – Unconditional Positive Regard  – and why should I care about it?
  • I see myself as Empathic and Authentic – isn’t that enough for good relationships?
  • So what if I’m judgmental and critical of those I disagree with – so is almost everyone else – what’s wrong with that?
  • I don’t see myself as judgmental – I just tell it like it is.
  • I have a hard time accepting people whose views and values are different from my own, especially if I find them hostile, if they’re offensive to me or insensitive to others.
    Why should I accept them when i feel like they’re wrong?
  • If I don’t like something, or prefer something, does that make non-accepting, conditional?
  • Are preferences judgmental?
  • Can I impose boundaries and consequences onto others’ behaviors and still be accepting?
  • If I consider myself Person Centered do I have to be unconditionally accepting all the time with everyone?
  • What can being unconditional help me learn about myself and others?
  • Is being unconditional separate from or integrated into being empathic or authentic?
  • Can I use labels to describe people, based on my observations of their behavior, and still be unconditional?

We invite you to join us in this, the 9th year of our Annual Conference, to discuss these issues and their impact on our beliefs, values and practice – on our ways of Being and Doing. We will join together in the format which has served us well in the past – a blend of encounter in small and large group settings, presentations and discussions in small and large groups,  and large group community. The active participation of attendees in our meetings and discussions is the key contributor to a successful process.

Our Zoom conference provides participants with three days in which to experience Community, Connection and Encounter, as they join together in small and large group settings for a fuller discussion and exploration of our theme. We have chosen meeting times to consider the needs of colleagues in different time zones.  We will begin daily at 6AM PDT and end at 1PM, out of consideration for the different time zones for our European and other participants.


Call for presenters

We welcome presentations from our attendees.  We have a limited number of spaces for presentations.  Presenters must be registered participants in the conference.  Preference will be given to topics related to the conference theme. The time allotted will be 1-½ hours to allow time for the presentation and discussion.  Requests to make a  presentations must be submitted by March 1.  

conference Agenda

But We’re Family Right?  The Challenges in Embracing Unconditional Positive Regard with Family 

Carey Patrick Wertz & Joe Patrick Wertz
We prefer to delve into this matter from a personal standpoint rather than a professional, distanced one; however, it is only through this personal reflection that we can improve both personally and professionally. Joe and I will share our challenges accepting my mother as a person when she has rejected me as a queer person. We will begin the presentation sharing the ways that UPR has impacted our relationship with each other and ourselves because we want to share a successful example of UPR and its impact. I will share my conflicts with my mother and the challenges that my mother and I have both faced communicating with each other. Joe will discuss his conflicts with my mother in terms of the struggle to accept someone who has hurt someone he loves. I think he offers a valuable perspective here in terms of UPR because people may instinctively want to protect those they love. We will conclude the presentation with ways that we have continued to reach for my mother’s acceptance by learning how to accept her. In other words, while difficult, I want this presentation to end hopeful.

This example shows the nuances and difficulties involved when we struggle to accept loved ones, such as family members. For me, it can be even more difficult to accept my mother than a client because she is so close to me; therefore, we want to share the unique challenges to accept people who are close to us in addition to the challenge in accepting those who hurt people we love. I also feel that others may relate to the challenge in learning to accept family.

Personal Growth, and Integrating My Ability to be Empathic, Congruent and Accurately Understand Myself and Others 

Patrick Howley
To observe Carl Rogers and many others who practice the Person-Centered Approach and then actualize the conditions in myself as I facilitate primarily groups, but also clients, I realize just how much I am challenged to grow as a person.  Sometimes how I feel and think inside me as I listen to an other person and my ability to be empathic are in conflict and that seems to interfere with my ability to be fully present and to accurately understand the group members or the client I am with. I sometimes during group meetings I am facilitating or with clients, I am very self-critical (not empathic), sometimes I am lost in my own reactivity of strong emotions (not at all a “being with” them, understanding them). At the same time I also am very fearful of being real as I don’t feel that sharing myself congruently would be at all helpful to the group or my clients.  I have noticed more recently that there are times that when what was fused together in my own mind, I can now able to go through a personal growth process of self-differentiation, and then sometimes integration!  The whole process of client-centered or person-centered way of being has always been a very exciting journey for me. But most of the time I did it alone. In this workshop, presentation, and/or encounter I am looking forward to being less alone as we share our own intrapersonal issues on these topics


Attendance fees for our 3 day conference

To encourage participation, we are keeping the registration fees low for our conference.  A limited number of scholarships are also available for those requiring financial assistance to attend.