Who are Genetic Counselors?
Genetic counselors work to help you understand your genetic risks and explore what your genetic information may mean for you. Genetic counselors explain and clarify genetic information. Genetic counselors discuss benefits and, just as importantly, limitations of genetic testing and review what this testing may reveal about your health.
Specialized education in human genetics and counseling provides genetic counselors with the knowledge to educate and support patients as they make important healthcare decisions. Most practicing genetic counselors have a Master’s degree in Human Genetics, or a related field, are board-certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and participate in ongoing education to maintain their certification. In addition, some states require genetic counselors to be licensed in order to provide genetic counseling.
Should I speak to a genetic counselor?
Genetic information and knowledge is changing rapidly. The testing process may be overwhelming and it is important to have a trusted source to get answers to your questions. Many people appreciate the opportunity to speak to a genetic counselor to understand their genetic risks and testing options. You may meet with a genetic counselor when you are considering genetic testing or to discuss the results of genetic testing.
What happens during a genetic counseling appointment?
Genetic counselors are part of your healthcare team. They work with you and your doctor to help you understand your genetic risks, identify appropriate testing options, assist you in making testing decisions and clarify genetic test results. Genetic counselors also help provide support that can be needed when genetic information presents difficult healthcare decisions.
Together, you and your genetic counselor may:
- Evaluate your family history and consider how your family and medical histories may help determine the likelihood that a particular disease would occur
- Review basic genetic concepts including how chromosomes, genes and DNA influence health
- Discuss inherited diseases and conditions that might affect you or your family
- Explore which genetic tests may be right for you and what those tests may tell you
- Review results of genetic testing