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Keywords:

  • genetic counseling;
  • goals of counseling;
  • review of genetic counseling;
  • specific aims of genetic counseling

The goals of genetic counseling have differed over the past three decades. Two schools of thought are prominent in reviewing past literature. One upholds the goal of preventing birth defects and genetic disorders while the other promotes a goal of improved psychological well-being in client adaptation to a genetic condition or risk. Both types of goals emphasize that clients should make their own reproductive decisions; however, the former relies on clients making decisions that will reduce the impact of genetic disorders. The differences in the types of goals may be due to the training and orientation of genetics health care providers, socio-cultural views, or priorities of health care settings. Regardless, there are ample reasons to dismiss the prevention of birth defects as a goal. This mini-review recommends use of genetic counseling sub-specialties as a framework for considering different client needs and thus different counseling goals and specific aims in the reproductive, pediatric/adult, and common disease settings. Given the extent of new genetic information, technologies, and the need to evaluate genetic counseling practice, genetics health care providers should work toward arriving at consensus on the goals of genetic counseling, and in doing so, the needs of clients should be considered.