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Genetic Counselor

From the GYN Genetics Articles List

Woman meeting with a genetic counselorWhat is a genetic counselor, why should I consult with one, and where would I find one?

A genetic counselor is someone who works with individuals and families who may be at risk for genetic conditions. These professionals can help you and your family understand your risk factors and the steps you can take to manage those risks.

According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors, “genetic counselors are health professionals with specialized graduate degrees and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counseling.” They work with you and your medical team to provide information, education, and support regarding any genetic conditions for which you are at risk.

A genetic counselor can help you sort through family medical histories to assess your risk of certain health conditions or diseases. Then, they can help you understand the condition(s) for which you may be at risk. Additionally, they can educate you regarding testing, management, prevention, and resources available for your condition.

As a member of your medical team, they can help you determine if and what genetic testing is right for you. Once you receive results from any testing, they can help you interpret them and educate you regarding their meaning for you. A genetic counselor can also help you analyze patterns within your family to help determine available treatment options. Additionally, they can act a patient advocate for you and your family and refer you to community and state support services.

Besides working with the data, genetic counselors can also offer supportive counseling. They can help you work through the psychological impact of having a genetic condition in your family. As part of counseling, they can help you cope with your results, negative or positive, and how they will impact you and your family. Counselors will consider your needs in relation to your culture, religion, family, etc. to help you make informed decisions that are right for you and your circumstances.

If you suspect you could have a risk of an inheritable condition, you should talk to your physician about a referral to a genetic counselor. Besides working with you, a genetic counselor can also be sure your medical team is informed about your specific condition. A counselor can be a liaison between you and the rest of the medical community, educating both patient and medical professionals to be sure all are informed about a specific condition and know the options available for managing it.

If your physician does not know to whom to refer you, you can contact the National Society of Genetic Counselors, American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC), or the National Cancer Institute. Look for someone who is not only knowledgeable, but someone with whom you feel comfortable since this individual will offer you both factual and emotional support.

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

10-21-2013 - 03:07 PM


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