Psychosocial genetic counseling in the post-nondirective era: a point of view

J Genet Couns. 2003 Jun;12(3):199-211. doi: 10.1023/a:1023234802124.


For three decades nondirectiveness has served as the central ethos for genetic counseling. It has evolved from narrow definitions defining what should not be done to broad definitions that promote active counseling skills in support of client autonomy and informed decision making. As broad definitions have been formulated, the term "nondirective" has become largely irrelevant to their content; it persists primarily as a historic relic. It has thus become an impediment to creative theory and clinical practice. I propose that nondirectiveness be replaced as the central ethos, while relevant components (providing balanced information, not imposing the counselor's values) are retained as elements of practice and ethics. This raises the question of what principle(s) should be adopted as a new guiding ethos. To promote a discussion of that issue I propose that the central ethos of genetic counseling should be to bring the psychosocial component into every aspect of the work.

MeSH terms

  • Directive Counseling* / ethics
  • Genetic Counseling / ethics
  • Genetic Counseling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Psychology