Elaboration of the Reciprocal-Engagement Model of Genetic Counseling Practice: a Qualitative Investigation of Goals and Strategies

Krista Redlinger-Grosse, Patricia Mc Carthy Veach, Bonnie S. LeRoy, Heather Zierhut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


As the genetic counseling field evolves, a comprehensive model of practice is critical. The Reciprocal-Engagement Model (REM) consists of 5 tenets and 17 goals. Lacking in the REM, however, are well-articulated counselor strategies and behaviors. The purpose of the present study was to further elaborate and provide supporting evidence for the REM by identifying and mapping genetic counseling strategies to the REM goals. A secondary, qualitative analysis was conducted on data from two prior studies: 1) focus group results of genetic counseling outcomes (Redlinger-Grosse et al., Journal of Genetic Counseling, 2015); and 2) genetic counselors’ examples of successful and unsuccessful genetic counseling sessions (Geiser et al. 2009). Using directed content analysis, 337 unique strategies were extracted from focus group data. A Q-sort of the 337 strategies yielded 15 broader strategy domains that were then mapped to the successful and unsuccessful session examples. Differing prevalence of strategy domains identified in successful sessions versus the prevalence of domains identified as lacking in unsuccessful sessions provide further support for the REM goals. The most prevalent domains for successful sessions were Information Giving and Use Psychosocial Skills and Strategies; and for unsuccessful sessions, Information Giving and Establish Working Alliance. Identified strategies support the REM’s reciprocal nature, especially with regard to addressing patients’ informational and psychosocial needs. Patients’ contributions to success (or lack thereof) of sessions was also noted, supporting a REM tenet that individual characteristics and the counselor-patient relationship are central to processes and outcomes. The elaborated REM could be used as a framework for certain graduate curricular objectives, and REM components could also inform process and outcomes research studies to document and further characterize genetic counselor strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1372-1387
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc.


  • Genetic counseling goals
  • Genetic counseling models
  • Genetic counseling strategies
  • Reciprocal-engagement model


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