Genetic counselors provide genetic and medical information, along with support, to families affected by genetic disorders or the possibility thereof.
Their goal is to help families:
A genetic counselor does not provide an "answer" for a family, but rather provides possible scenarios and helps a family make its own decisions.
Visits to genetic counselors occur for a variety of reasons, most often when a child is born with a birth defect, when a known genetic condition runs in a family or when there is a possibility of either occurring. Common scenarios in which a genetic counselor can help include:
Genetic counselors often work as part of a medical team and provide information about a person’s medical condition while other professionals provide medical care.
Genetic counselors provide patients with the information they need to make important decisions about genetic testing and future care. Because genetic testing is a very personal decision with many far-reaching physical and emotional consequences, its impact must be carefully considered beforehand. In addition, due to the rarity of most genetic disorders, many doctors (non-geneticists) may not recognize a genetic disorder or have much in-depth information about it. Discussing a genetic condition with a geneticist or a genetic counselor is important for determining a diagnosis, even when the majority of medical care is done by other specialists.