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Genetic counsellor

26 December 2022

What is a genetic counsellor?

Genetic counsellors are healthcare professionals who have specialized training in medical genetics and counselling. They use their expertise to help individuals understand the risks, implications and options related to genetic conditions. Genetic counsellors provide information about inherited disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease; they also help families make decisions based on genetic test results. Genetic counsellors can provide emotional support and guidance to patients and their families, as well as help them access resources in the community. By understanding genetic information and its implications, they are able to offer tailored advice for individuals and families facing difficult decisions.

What does a genetic counsellor do?

Genetic counsellors are usually involved in the following areas:

- Diagnosing and counselling individuals who have a family history of genetic disorders

- Helping people understand the implications of their test results and make decisions based on them

- Explaining the risks associated with certain medical conditions or treatments

- Providing support to families facing difficult decisions such as whether to pursue prenatal testing

- Educating healthcare professionals on genetics and the latest developments in the field

- Referring patients to other healthcare professionals or support services as needed

Genetic counsellors play a vital role in helping individuals and families make informed decisions about their health. They provide an invaluable service, enabling people to better understand their own genetic makeup and take steps to manage any associated risks.

How can a genetic counsellor help your child and family?

A genetic counsellor can help you and your family understand the risks associated with a particular medical condition or treatment. They can provide advice on how to manage these risks, as well as guide you towards resources that may be useful. Additionally, they are trained to support families through difficult decisions such as whether to pursue prenatal testing or consider gene therapy for a child. Genetic counsellors can also provide emotional support and help you explore your feelings around genetic testing and other related issues. Ultimately, they are there to provide knowledge, understanding, and support during a time of uncertainty for families facing difficult decisions about their health.

What can you do before going to a genetic counsellor?

Prior to meeting with a genetic counsellor, it is important to familiarize yourself with the topic of genetics so that you can better understand any information they provide. You should also think ahead and jot down any questions or concerns that you have regarding inherited disorders and genetic testing. Finally, you may want to bring along family members who are affected by the medical condition in question, as they can provide additional insight and support. Having this information ready will help you make the most of your appointment with a genetic counsellor.

What financial support is available to access genetic counsellors in Australia?

In Australia, a number of government and private funding sources are available to help cover the cost of genetic counselling services. These include Medicare rebates, private health insurance, state-based assistance schemes and charitable organisations. Additionally, many hospitals have dedicated genetics clinics that provide free or low-cost genetic counselling services to those in need. It is important to do your research and contact the relevant organisations for more information about what support is available in your area.