A genetic counselor is a health professional with specialized training in medical genetics and counseling. Most genetic counselors have a master's degree in genetic counseling. Genetic counselors are certified through the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
Genetic counselors provide patients and their families with information about inherited conditions to aid in the patient's and/or family's understanding of a genetic condition. In addition, genetic counselors are often a resource for families as they cope with the diagnosis of a genetic condition and with living with a genetic condition.
The genetic counselor generally begins the session by obtaining relevant family, pregnancy and medical histories, concentrating on the patient's questions and concerns. If a clinical examination or genetic testing has already identified a genetic condition, the counselor provides information about the diagnosis and the options available, along with providing support to the family.
During a genetic counseling session, the genetic counselor may:
- Provide medical information about the condition(s) in question
- Describe patterns of inheritance and assess risks to other family members
- Discuss appropriate genetic testing
- Identify options for prenatal diagnosis, preconceptual or presymptomatic testing
- Provide the family with information about educational and supportive resources
- Talk with the family about the emotional, psychological and social consequences of a genetic condition
At the Harvey Institute for Human Genetics, our genetic counselors are an integral part of our services, including: