A clinical interview affords far more opportunities to act therapeutically than most therapists realize. Because so many of these opportunities remain outside the therapist's conscious awareness, it is useful to elaborate guidelines that orient his or her general activity in directions that are liable to be therapeutic. The Milan associates defined three such basic guidelines: hypothesizing, circularity, and neutrality. Hypothesizing is clear and easy to accept. The notions of circularity and neutrality have aroused considerable interest but are not as readily understood. These guidelines may be clarified and operationalized when reformulated as conceptual postures. This process is enhanced by differentiating a fourth guideline, strategizing, which entails the therapist's decision making, including decisions about how to employ these postures. This paper, the first in a series of three, explores these four interviewing guidelines. The other papers will appear in a subsequent issue. Part II will focus on reflexive questioning, a mode of inquiry oriented toward mobilizing the family's own healing capacity. Part III will provide a scheme for analyzing and choosing among four major types of questions: linear questions, circular questions, reflexive questions, and strategic questions.