Listening skills: Listen attentively to the client in an attempt to understand both the content of their problem, as they see it, and the emotions they are experiencing related to the problem. Do not make interpretations of the client's problems or offer any premature suggestions as to how to deal with, or solve the issues presented. Listen and try to understand the concerns being presented. Most people want and need to be heard and understood, not advised.


Resistance: Changing human behavior is not usually a linear, direct, and logical process. It is very emotional and many habits of behavior and thought that are dysfunctional are difficult to break. People invest a sense of security in familiar behavior, even some behavior that causes them pain. Changing this is often a difficult and tangential process. Many threads of behavior are tied to others and when one thing is changed a new balance must be established, otherwise people couldn't function. This means people change at different rates depending on how well they can tolerate the imbalance that comes from change. So, when people resist certain changes that one hopes will occur in therapy it is important that the therapist not take this personally and recognize the stressful nature of the process for the client. Some resistance to therapeutic change is quite natural.


Respect: No matter how peculiar, strange, disturbed, weird, or utterly different from you that the client is, they must be treated with respect! Without this basic element successful therapy is impossible. You do not have to like the client, or their values, or their behavior, but you must put your personal feelings aside and treat them with respect. In some institutional settings you made observe some slippage in this principal among staff which is both inadequately trained and overstressed and overworked, but you must try to keep this principal in mind at all times in you want to be an effective counselor or therapist.


Empathy and Positive Regard: Based in the writings of Carl Rogers, these two principles go along with respect and effective listening skills. Empathy requires you to listen and understand the feelings and perspective of the other person (in this case your client) and positive regard is an aspect of respect. While Rogers calls this "unconditional positive regard" it may be a bit too much to ask that it be "unconditional." Treating the client with respect should be sufficient.


Clarification, confrontation, interpretation: These are techniques of therapeutic intervention that are more advanced, although clarification is useful even at a basic level. Clarification is an attempt by the therapist to restate what the client is either saying or feeling, so the client may learn something or understand the issue better. Confrontation and interpretation are more advanced principles and we won't go into them except to mention their existence.


Transference and Countertransference: This is a process wherein the client feels things and has perceptions of the therapist that rightly belong to other people in the client's life, either past or present. It is a process somewhat related to projection. Understanding transference reactions can help the client gain understanding of important aspects of their emotional life. Countertransference refers to the emotional and perceptional reactions the therapist has towards the client that rightly belong to other significant people in the therapists life. It is important for the therapist to understand and manage their countertransference.