Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals, trained in genetics and counseling, who can help people with questions about genetic concerns affecting them or their families. They perform many functions, all intended to provide patients with information about current or potential health concerns based on a family history or test results. 

If a specific diagnosis is made, the genetic counselor discusses the diagnosis with the patient in detail, providing information on the cause and treatment, and answering questions. The counselor provides information on the chances of passing the condition on to children. The counselor also furnishes information on tests and modes of therapy available to the patient and their family.

Genetic counselors are non-judgmental. They outline all of the healthcare options available and then support the patient’s decision on how to proceed. 

Your Genetic Counseling Session

If you are scheduled to meet with a genetic counselor, these tips can help you make the most of your appointment:

  • Provide your genetic counselor with as much accurate information as possible on the health condition of your family members. Bring documentation, if you can, including X-rays, medical records and laboratory results, on those family members with known genetic conditions.
  • Write down your questions and concerns and bring them to your counseling session. Feel free to speak openly and to discuss any pertinent topics during your session. Remember, everything you share with your counselor is confidential.
  • Bring a member of your family or a close friend if you feel you need support. 
  • After your counseling session, tell your genetic counselor of any changes in your family’s health history. Maintain periodic contact with your counselor. Research into genetics takes place daily, and often new research technology make provide information that can improve the lives of family members afflicted with genetic disorders.
  • Share information from your genetic counselor with relatives. The information you learn from your counselor may influence their health decisions.