Advice: Be cautious in giving advice to your client. Remember she or he has received a great deal of this. Advice is much better received when it is sought. Try to avoid giving advice whenever possible.
Empathy: This refers to an attitude of attempting to put yourself in the clientís place. In essence, you are trying to imagine how the client/referral must feel in the situation she/he is in by trying to imagine how you might feel if you were in such a situation.
Respect for the Client: Respect her or his individuality and basic rights as a fellow human being. View your client with the dignity that another human being in trouble deserves. A client who may be down on her or his luck needs to be approached with understanding. Give her or him confidence in her or him self and in you. Donít treat your client as a ďbadĒ person because of her or his circumstance. Treat each client with the same respect and dignity you would like.
Acceptance: Accept the individual as she or he is. It may be difficult at first. Because of your clientís background and environment she or he probably has a set of values vastly different from your own. Your client will become immediately aware of your rejection, making it difficult for your relationship with her or him to be effective. Develop an appreciation for the client in her or his own life situation.
Communication: Get to your clientís level of understanding. Use simple, non-technical language. Keep the lines of communication open to the agency volunteer coordinator, agency supervisor, or your immediate agency personnel in charge.
Listening: Hear your client out! Let her or him talk. By being willing to listen, you will better understand your client and her or his problems, needs, capabilities, and limitations.
Be Open-Minded: Donít always go by the book. Be flexible and try your own approach or techniques when appropriate. However, do not go against agency policy at any time.
Be Patient: Donít expect miracles overnight. When things have been going wrong for an extended amount of time, the client cannot change in a few weeks or months. Remember you may not be able to reap what you sow. Be able to deal with your own disappointment by realizing change does not happen overnight and you are there for a limited amount of time. Donít give up!
Role Model: One of the best things you can do for your client is to be a good role model through your own actions and behavior. For example, donít pick up on your clientís vernacular. To use language that isnít part of you can label you as a phony. Dress appropriately at all times, setting an example of professionalism to your client may help them to change. Be an example at all times!
Be Someone Your Client can Count on: Your client may be in a crisis much of the time and may be accustomed to being overcome by crisis and expect to be defeated. You are in a choice position to stand by her or him when she or he really needs someone to help her or him to overcome the situation.