Genetic counseling is fairly new. The fact that the field is an accepted professional enterprise in universities, clinics, and hospitals throughout the United States is remarkable. The contributors argue that genetics and medicine rest on beliefs widely held in American society. Scientific progress is good, and highly sophisticated technologies are appropriate means to solving medical problems. The better understanding they gain about the nature and evolution of disease, the more prepared clinicians will be to treat and prevent future occurrence of disease. A belief that medicine, including genetic medicine, is clear, factually based, and objective undergirds the strategies and norms of genetic counseling. This collection of original papers explores the history, values, and norms of that process, with focus on the value of non-directiveness in counseling practice. The contributors' examination of genetic counseling issues serves as a foundation from which to address the ethical, legal, and policy considerations of clinical genetics.