What next for “counseling” in genetic counseling training: A reflection on how CBT and ACT approaches can contribute to the genetic counseling toolkit

Rachel Davies*, Rachel Price Tate, Nicola V. Taverner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Counseling techniques are an important component of genetic counseling training and are focused on the person-centered counseling philosophy. While this has a long tradition within the profession and underpins the empowerment goal, it should not limit consideration of the potential benefits of education on other psychotherapeutic approaches such as the cognitive philosophy. The goal of empowerment in genetic counseling requires patients to receive information in a way that is accessible to them and to make sense of it in relation to their own health, lifestyle, and family information. This assimilation of new information is a complex cognitive process, and yet it is one that genetic counselors do not routinely actively facilitate. Rather the counseling component of genetic counseling has traditionally focused on emotionally supporting the patient which is driven by the person-centered philosophy that is covered in genetic counseling training. This paper argues for the potential for adopting more cognitive approaches informed by cognitive–behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), as these short interventions can have wide impact, including engaging patients who do not want to discuss feelings, helping people to make sense of information (not just gain knowledge), and helping people to change the relationship they have with their thoughts. This paper advocates for an introduction to CBT and ACT to be incorporated into prequalification training and for more advanced training to be available to postqualification genetic counselors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1873
Pages (from-to)129-134
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number1
Early online date11 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Feb 2024


  • acceptance and commitment therapy
  • cognitive-behavioural therapy
  • counseling techniques
  • education
  • genetic counseling
  • professional development


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