Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 674–684 | Cite as

“There’s a Whole Different Way of Working with Adolescents”: Interviews with Australian Genetic Counselors About their Experiences with Adolescent Clients

  • Cheryl Tse
  • Margaret Sahhar
  • Jane Wallace
  • Rony E. Duncan
Original Research


Adolescence is a developmental period marked by unique physical, psychological and social changes. Guidelines about working with adolescents are available to health professionals in other fields, yet few resources are tailored specifically to genetic counselors. The current qualitative study explored the experiences of genetic counselors who work with adolescent clients to determine whether challenges exist and if further training and support are needed. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 genetic counselors from Australia. Interview transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis from which 7 key themes emerged: 1) Adolescents: A distinct client group? 2) Characteristics of adolescents; 3) Strategies for working with adolescents; 4) Confidentiality; 5) Parental involvement and presence in sessions; 6) Benefits of working with adolescents; and 7) The effectiveness of past training and education. The findings hold important implications for clinical practice and may inform future training programs and guidelines for genetic counselors internationally.


Adolescent Youth Minors Genetic counseling Professional development Qualitative research Interview 



Rony Duncan is partly supported through a Fellowship from the Invergowrie Foundation. This study was supported by the Victorian Government’s Operational Infrastructure Support Program. This study was completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Genetic Counselling, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheryl Tse
    • 1
  • Margaret Sahhar
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Jane Wallace
    • 2
    • 4
  • Rony E. Duncan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PaediatricsThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Adolescent Health, Level 2Royal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  4. 4.Victorian Clinical Genetics ServicesRoyal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia

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