Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 85–93 | Cite as

The Relationship of Nondirectiveness to Genetic Counseling: Report of a Workshop at the 2003 NSGC Annual Education Conference

  • Jon Weil
  • Kelly Ormond
  • June Peters
  • Kathryn Peters
  • Barbara Bowles Biesecker
  • Bonnie LeRoy
Original Paper

Nondirectiveness has been a guiding principle for genetic counseling since the founding of the profession. However, its efficacy and appropriateness in this role have been frequently questioned. A workshop at the 2003 Annual Education Conference of the National Society of Genetic Counselors provided audience participation in a discussion of these issues. Participants presented arguments for and against nondirectiveness as a central ethos. They described complex personal transitions in adapting what they had learned about nondirectiveness during training to the realities of the workplace. There was support for flexible approaches to genetic counseling, with varying adherence to nondirectiveness, based on client and family needs and values, clinical circumstances, and desired counseling outcomes. The discussion supports the use of clinical experience, outcomes research, and the experience of other professions to move beyond nondirectiveness and more accurately identify the theoretical bases that underlie genetic counseling in the variety of circumstances in which it is currently practiced.


genetic counseling nondirective counseling. 



We thank Elizabeth Alexander and Elizabeth Detwiler for transcribing the authors’ introductory comments and the public discussion of the EBS. We also thank all those who attended and participated in the EBS and who communicated via e-mail.


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jon Weil
    • 1
    • 7
  • Kelly Ormond
    • 2
  • June Peters
    • 3
  • Kathryn Peters
    • 4
  • Barbara Bowles Biesecker
    • 5
  • Bonnie LeRoy
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoU.S.
  2. 2.Graduate Program in Genetic CounselingNorthwestern UniversityChicagoU.S.
  3. 3.Clinical Genetics BranchDivision of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIHRockvilleU.S.
  4. 4.Center for Developmental and Health GeneticsPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkU.S.
  5. 5.Medical Genetics BranchNHGRI/NIHBethesdaU.S.
  6. 6.Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development and the Institute of Human GeneticsUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisU.S.
  7. 7.2015 Mira Vista DriveEl CerritoU.S.

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