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Relational Genetic Counseling 

Relational Genetic Counseling
Chapter:
Relational Genetic Counseling
Author(s):

Barbara B. Biesecker

, Kathryn F. Peters

, and Robert Resta

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190626426.003.0008
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date: 15 August 2020

This chapter emphasizes the importance of the relational components of a psychotherapeutic approach to genetic counseling. It outlines the steps to developing a therapeutic alliance with a client that are implied but not stated in the Reciprocal Engagement Model. Reinforced are the need for safety and trust for the client, conveying respect, and being genuine in the relationship. Contracting is described as an exchange between the counselor and client to establish the session goals. Relational counseling skills are used to establish a relationship that fully addresses the implications of genetic information. These skills include asking open-ended questions, followed by closed-ended questions; clarifying understanding; paraphrasing; reflecting feelings; and summarizing the client’s perceptions and needs. They constitute the process used to establish a therapeutic relationship that is essential to addressing the threat of genetic information and clients’ related fears and hopes. What results from this process is an empathic connection with clients where informed decisions are made, coping is enhanced, and/or adaptation is facilitated.

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