Conditions of Worth Explained: A Theory by Carl Rogers

Conditions of Worth Explained

When it comes to counselling and psychotherapy, one influential person who has made a significant impact is Carl Rogers. Carl Rogers who is the father of Person-Centred Counselling theory believed that individuals have an innate drive for self-actualisation and personal growth. However, he also recognised that societal expectations and judgments can often hinder this process. This led him to develop the concept of “Conditions of Worth.”

This theory explores how the development of individuals’ self-worth is influenced by external factors, such as societal expectations and the judgments of others.

In this article, we will delve into the concept of Conditions of Worth, its implications for counselling and psychotherapy, and how practitioners can help clients navigate these conditions to foster genuine self-acceptance and personal growth.

External Locus of Evaluation

Refers to the external standards and expectations that individuals internalise from their early experiences with significant others, such as parents, teachers, or caregivers. These conditions shape how individuals view themselves and determine their self-worth.

Conditions of Worth Explained

Examples of External values - Conditions of Worth

External Locus of Evaluation are Introjected values, beliefs and expectations that are imposed on individuals by others, especially during their formative years. These conditions often come from significant people in a person’s life, such as parents, teachers, and peers, and can be explicit or implicit. They are often tied to specific behaviours or accomplishments that are deemed as valuable or desirable by society.

For example, a child may grow up believing that their worth is solely dependent on academic achievement. They may receive praise and validation from their parents only when they excel academically, leading them to constantly seek approval through academic success. In this case, their self-worth becomes contingent on their ability to meet this condition.

Other common examples of Introjected values include appearance, popularity, wealth, athletic ability, and conforming to certain societal norms or expectations. Individuals may internalise these conditions and strive to meet them to gain acceptance, love, or validation from others. 

However, this often comes at the cost of suppressing their true identity and needs, leading to a lack of genuine self-acceptance and fulfilment.

Understanding Introjected Values Conditions of Worth

Carl Rogers believed that individuals develop a sense of self-worth based on certain conditions placed upon them by others, Introjected values most notably significant figures in their lives during their formative years. These conditions are often communicated through praise, validation, or criticism, and they shape how individuals perceive themselves. For example, if a child receives praise and approval only when they achieve high grades or excel in sports, they may develop the belief that their worth is contingent on these external achievements.

Rogers argued that these conditions of worth are based on introjected values – that is, the values that we adopt from those around us, to enable us to gain their approval. can be detrimental to a person’s psychological well-being. 

When individuals internalise these external standards and expectations, they may become disconnected from their true selves and constantly seek validation and approval from others. They may feel the pressure to meet these conditions in order to feel worthy and loved, leading to feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and even depression.

Furthermore, Introjected values can hinder personal growth and self-actualisation. When individuals are constantly striving to meet these external standards, they may not have the opportunity to explore their own interests, values, and passions. Instead, they may feel compelled to conform to societal expectations and sacrifice their own authentic selves.

Implications for Counseling and Psychotherapy:

Introjected values can have a profound impact on an individual’s mental well-being and self-perception. When individuals internalise these conditions, they may find themselves constantly seeking external validation and struggling to find genuine self-acceptance. 

This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and even depression.

In counselling and psychotherapy, understanding the concept of Conditions of Worth is crucial as it provides insight into the underlying issues that clients may be facing. By exploring and unravelling these conditions, therapists can help clients challenge societal expectations and judgments that have become ingrained within their self-perception.

This process involves creating a safe and supportive environment where clients can explore their authentic selves without fear of judgment or rejection. Through a person-centred approach, therapists aim to foster unconditional positive regard, acceptance, and empathy towards their clients, allowing them to develop a more positive self-image.

Internal Locus of Evaluation

Individuals who are in tune with their Internal Locus of Evaluation has an unconditional self-acceptance. When introjected values are replaced with internal values individuals will begin to develop a healthier sense of self and conduct their lives with an authentic identity.

By challenging and replacing Introjected values with internal values and trusting their own instincts and value the view of themselves. They can learn to value themselves for who they are, rather than basing their worth on external achievements or others’ opinions. 

If a person is operating from an internal locus of evaluation their shift in perspective can lead to an increased self-esteem, confidence, and the ability to make choices that align with their own values and desires and be able to use their organismic valuing process and trust their own instincts.

As therapists guide clients through this process, it is important to create a non-judgmental and empathetic space that encourages self-exploration and growth. 

Carl Rogers says: “Through receiving the six necessary and sufficient conditions the client receives constructive personality change”.

As therapists guide clients through this process, it is important to create a non-judgmental and empathetic space that encourages self-exploration and growth. 

Therapists can help clients identify and challenge their own incongruency and conditions of worth, facilitating them with the core conditions on the journey to self-actualisation.


In conclusion, Carl Rogers’ theory of Conditions of Worth provides crucial insight into the impact of societal expectations on individuals’ self-perception and mental well-being. Understanding and addressing these conditions is essential in counselling and psychotherapy to help clients overcome feelings of inadequacy and seek genuine self-acceptance.

By fostering self-awareness, challenging limiting beliefs, and promoting unconditional positive regard, therapists can support clients in the journey of overcoming Conditions of Worth. This involves creating a safe and empathetic space for clients to explore their internalised conditions and reconnect with their authentic selves.

Through this process, individuals can move towards a more fulfilling and authentic life, where their true worth is recognised and valued beyond external achievements or approval. By embracing their intrinsic worth and learning to accept themselves unconditionally, clients can experience personal growth, increased self-confidence, and improved mental well-being.

In summary, Carl Rogers’ theory of Conditions of Worth offers a powerful framework for understanding the role of societal expectations in shaping self-perception. By addressing these conditions in counselling and psychotherapy, clients can break free from the constraints of external judgment and rediscover their inherent worth and potential.

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