Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 505–509 | Cite as

Counseling Adolescents and the Challenges for Genetic Counselors

  • Alice Callard
  • Jessica Williams
  • Heather Skirton
Case Presentation


Genetic counselors may have an important role in helping the adolescent make an informed decision with regard to genetic testing and in helping them to adjust to genetic risk information. However, counseling techniques that are used with adults may not be always be suited to the adolescent population. Adolescence is a time of development during which separation from the family and formation of identity is achieved. The process of this development may impact the genetic counseling relationship. Family relationships may have a strong influence on the client’s decision to have genetic testing. Additionally, it may be difficult to engage the client as adolescents may not have the ability to think abstractly and consider the short and long term consequences of genetic testing. It is helpful therefore to discuss the counseling process and techniques that may be useful when counseling these clients. This paper presents two case studies that illustrate some of the difficulties that may occur when counseling adolescents for genetic testing. The authors’ have reflected on their clinical experience with these clients and this is presented here to add to the growing literature on this subject.


Adolescence Genetic counseling Family Autonomy Case study 



We thank Lauren Kerzin-Storrar and Diana Scotcher for their valuable feedback and contribution to this work.


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice Callard
    • 1
  • Jessica Williams
    • 1
  • Heather Skirton
    • 2
  1. 1.Wessex Clinical Genetics ServiceUniversity Hospital Southampton, NHS Foundation TrustSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Health, Education and SocietyPlymouth UniversityPlymouthUK

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