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Genetic Counseling

  1. Jennifer A. Sullivan,
  2. Allyn McConkie-Rosell

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0380

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Sullivan, J. A. and McConkie-Rosell, A. 2010. Genetic Counseling. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. Duke University Medical Center

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Genetic counseling as a separate and distinct component of medical care was introduced as part of the eugenics movement in the United States during the 1940s. Over time, societal rejection of “eugenic” practices as well as advances in medical technology highlighted the need to consider the psychological effects on the family of a genetic diagnosis (R. G. Resta, 2006). Throughout the 1950s and 1960s genetic counseling evolved from this primarily social and public health perspective, and many different types of health-care professionals—including physicians, nurses, and social workers, as well as research geneticists—provided explanations and social support to individuals and families diagnosed with genetic disorders. Genetic counseling as we know it today benefited from these early practitioners.