Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Counselling the genetically 'at risk': The poetics and politics of 'non-directiveness'

Petersen, A. (1999) Counselling the genetically 'at risk': The poetics and politics of 'non-directiveness'. Health, Risk and Society, 1 (3). pp. 253-265.

Link to Published Version:
*Subscription may be required


According to the professional literature, genetic counselling should be value-neutral and 'non-directive'. Counsellors should impart genetic risk information without offering direct advice, enabling clients to reach informed, voluntary decisions. Although a growing number of genetic counsellors have questioned the desirability of adopting a non-directive stance and recognise the difficulty, if not impossibility, of realising this ideal in practice, non-directiveness continues to be promoted by the genetic counselling profession as a defining feature of genetic counselling. This article critically examines the use of the concept of non-directiveness in genetic counselling, making reference to a range of recent descriptions and critical appraisals of the genetic counselling process. It explores the context for the emergence of the ideal of non-directiveness and how this ideal is sustained through counsellors' self-descriptions of their profession and the routines of counselling practice. Finally, the article stresses the importance of critically assessing the aims and regulatory implications of genetic counselling in a context of proliferating new 'at risk' populations.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Inquiry
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Copyright: © 1999 Taylor & Francis Ltd
Item Control Page Item Control Page