Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Genetic Counseling

First Advisor

Crystal R Hill-Chapman


In the genetic counseling profession, discussions about cross-cultural counseling and cultural competence emphasize the importance of patient culture as well as counselor culture in a counseling session. A culturally competent counselor should be aware of the influence of her own cultural values on interactions with patients and peers (Weil, 2000; & Uhlmann, Schuette, & Yashar, 2011). Focusing specifically on counselors from cultural/ethnic minorities, this mixed-methods study sought to empirically evaluate the influence of a counselor's cultural values and ethnic identity on the genetic counseling process. 162 genetic counselors, 58 of whom self-identified as being from an ethnic minority group, completed the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM) scale (Phinney, 1992). The survey also included additional questions from the Benet-Martinez Acculturation scale (BMAS) (Benet-Martinez, 2006), demographic data, and questions regarding patient preference and cross-cultural counseling. 20 counselors participated in semi-structured telephone interviews to discuss cultural values, cultural competency, preference, experiences surrounding cross-cultural counseling. Results showed that patient preference and cross-cultural changes in counseling were not significantly associated with ethnic identity or acculturation, but were significantly associated with the counselor's age and years of experience; younger counselors and counselors with less clinical experience are more likely to alter their counseling based on cultural similarity. The importance of family and education were cultural values that were considered to directly influence the respondents' approach to genetic counseling. While some changes in counseling based on cultural differences were noted, counselors generally felt that the needs of the patient were more influential than the cultural similarity between them. A discussion of common genetic counselor traits and recommendations for improved cultural competency are provided.


© 2014, Brittanie Morris