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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

MS in Human Genetics

First Advisor

Laura Hercher


This qualitative study examines the perspectives and opinions of clinical psychology students on psychiatric genetic counseling (PGC) and their prospective referral practices. PGC is underutilized and difficult to access despite multiple studies confirming its effectiveness in increasing patient empowerment and reducing feelings of guilt, self-blame, and stigma. Research until recently has rarely focused on how it is viewed by professionals with gate-keeping roles. Previous studies investigated the perspectives of psychiatrists and other physicians but not clinical psychologists, who are integral members of the mental healthcare management team. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 students from 9 PsyD programs in the United States using an interview guide created by the researchers. The interview transcripts were thematically coded and analyzed using interpretive description to identify actionable steps to increase accessibility. The greatest barrier to making referrals to PGC was a lack of education or awareness that this service exists, as has been reported previously. Additionally, the clinical psychology students we interviewed were protective of their clients and many articulated a need to form relationships with the providers to whom they refer out. They wanted to learn more about what happens during a PGC session and its accessibility as a service, and highlighted the need for more awareness of PGC and the importance of genetics in psychology practice in general. Providing opportunities for clinical psychologists or PsyD candidates to interact with psychiatric genetic counselors as well as providing more information on the content of a PGC session may help increase access to PGC.