The Core Conditions for Therapeutic Change

13 Jun 2011 |  for trainees | by Bill, writer at UK & Ireland Counsellor Directory

Carl Rogers (1902-1987) developed an approach to counselling called the Person Centred Approach. He believed that we all have a natural tendency towards growth and wholeness, but that, often, difficult life experiences lead us to have a negative concept of ourselves, in one way or another.

Rogers believed that when people have the opportunity to be in a relationship where they experience themselves as understood and accepted for who they are, by someone who interacts with them genuinely and honestly, they will naturally begin to grow and develop in therapeutic ways.

He characterised this approach in the following sentence:

“If I can provide a certain type of relationship the other person will discover within himself the capacity to use that relationship for growth, and change and personal development will occur"

Rogers identified six necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change, of which three are known as the core conditions:


Being genuine, honest and truthful in our relationships with others. This is the ability to “be yourself”, without pretence or façade.


Also known as Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) this is a non-judgemental warmth, a sense of respecting and accepting the other person just as they are.


The ability to understand the other person at a deep level. It involves being able to put yourself in the other person’s position, and understanding them in their own terms.

The other three conditions are: that the two people are in psychological contact; that the client is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable or anxious; and that communication of the therapist’s empathic understanding and UPR is to a minimal degree achieved.

The core conditions aren’t something you can “use” in relationships. They cannot be learned and applied formulaically. Rather they are cultivated as a life-attitude, a way of being, an approach to life and relationships that will inform and underpin your interactions with others and the world.

Conditions for re-use | Images used in this blog.