A genetic consultation provides information, offers support, and addresses a patient’s specific questions and concerns. To help determine whether a condition has a genetic component, a genetics professional asks about a person’s medical history and takes a detailed family history (a record of health information about a person’s immediate and extended family). The genetics professional may also perform a physical examination and recommend appropriate tests.
If a person is diagnosed with a genetic condition, the genetics professional provides information about the diagnosis, how the condition is inherited, the chance of passing the condition to future generations, and the options for testing and treatment.
During a consultation, a genetics professional will:
Interpret and communicate complex medical information.
Help each person make informed, independent decisions about their health care and reproductive options.
Respect each person’s individual beliefs, traditions, and feelings.
A genetics professional will NOT:
Tell a person which decision to make.
Advise a couple not to have children.
Recommend that a woman continue or end a pregnancy.
Tell someone whether to undergo testing for a genetic disorder.
For more information about what to expect during a genetic consultation:
GeneTests from the University of Washington provides a detailed list of topics that are often discussed during a genetics consultation.
The National Society of Genetic Counselors offers information about what to expect from a genetic counseling session as part of its FAQs About Genetic Counselors and the NSGC. Scroll down to question 5, “This is my first visit to a genetic counselor. What can I expect from this visit?”
Information about the role of genetic counselors and the process of genetic counseling are available from the Genetic Alliance publication Understanding Genetics: A Guide for Patients and Professionals.
Next: How can I find a genetics professional in my area?