J Genet Couns 2006 Apr;15(2):85-93
Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, USA.
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.