What is genetic counselling?
Genetic counselling is a relatively new profession. It involves a communication process which aims to help individuals, couples and families understand and adapt to the medical, psychological, familial and reproductive implications of the genetic contribution to specific health conditions.
This process integrates the following:
- Interpretation of family and medical histories to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence.
- Education about the natural history of the condition, inheritance pattern, testing, management, prevention, support resources and research.
- Counselling to promote informed choices in view of risk assessment, family goals, ethical and religious values.
- Support to encourage the best possible adjustment to the disorder in an affected family member and/or to the risk of recurrence of that disorder
Currently, Australian Society of Genetic Counsellors’ members comprise Certified Genetic Counsellors, Associate Genetic Counsellors, students and others with an association with or interest in the discipline of genetic counselling
Genetic Counsellors are employed in an increasing variety of specialist health services where they contribute their expertise within a team approach to patient care.
Before attending a genetic counselling session, it may be helpful to find out as much information as you can about the medical history of both sides of your family as this is the type of information discussed at your appointment. This might include
- How you are related to each family member, including whether family members are adopted or half relatives
- any major health conditions affecting family members
- the age of onset of each condition
- information on miscarriages
- the cause and age of death of family members (if relevant).
Clinical genetics units and/or services are administered by public and private health facilities and may function quite differently. Most clinical genetics services require a letter or phone call from a referring health professional. Written referrals are preferred because this facilitates continuity of care following the genetic consultation.
To find a genetics counsellor near you, go to: https://www.hgsa.org.au/asgc/find-a-genetic-counsellor
Information from: Australasian Society of Genetic Counsellors website: https://www.hgsa.org.au/asgc