Psychological aspects of genetic counseling. XI. Nondirectiveness revisited

Am J Med Genet. 1997 Oct 17;72(2):164-71. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-8628(19971017)72:2<164::aid-ajmg8>;2-v.


Directiveness and nondirectiveness are considered here as psychological phenomena and separated from the issue of giving or withholding advice. The former is a form of persuasive communication involving various combinations of deception, coercion, and threat, whereas the latter describes procedures that promote and enhance the autonomy and self-directedness of clients. Examples are given showing that professionals have considerable difficulty dealing with relatively simple, common issues arising in genetic counseling. It is suggested that many, if not most, problems involving the issue of nondirectiveness arise because of inadequacies in applying basic counseling skills. Several examples are given of nondirective counseling in situations involving direct questions and the proffering of "advice." The need to raise standards in counseling training is underscored if the field of genetic counseling is to remain nondirective.

MeSH terms

  • Genetic Counseling / psychology*
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Truth Disclosure*