I’ve been referred for genetic counseling… What does that mean?

Most people who are referred for genetic counseling have never heard of it before, and can be quite intimidated by the sound of it – is someone going to try to change my genes?? Like gene therapy or something? Or is it more like Gattaca?? Designer babies????


What is genetic counseling?


Genetic counseling is: “a process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease”

–       National Society of Genetic Counselors


But what does this mean for me if I receive genetic counseling?


Meeting with a genetic counselor involves both education and supportive counseling. In terms of education, genetic counselors are a resource to help you to understand complex results and information. A genetic counselor’s training emphasizes the importance of translating technical scientific and medical information into formats that anyone can understand (including the use of visual aids, analogies, models, etc.). Part of a genetic counselor’s job is to tailor the information provided to your needs – what is it you want to know? In terms of the supportive component, examples of this can include supporting decision making around whether or not to have a genetic test or identifying appropriate community resources for your situation.


Since genetic counseling is still relatively unknown, the Canadian Association of Genetic Counselors (CAGC) organizes an annual Genetic Counseling Awareness Week. This week (Nov. 18 – 24) is the 2012 Genetic Counseling Awareness week!  Check out this site for news and events in your area: http://gcawareness.wordpress.com/

The theme of this year’s genetic counseling awareness week is ‘Genetic Counseling Across the Lifespan’, so for this week, I will be writing posts about scenarios in which you could receive genetic counseling at different ages and life stages. Feel free to respond to my posts with questions – what do you want to


– Catriona Hippman, Certified Genetic Counselor

Check out our national professional organization’s website here: https://cagc-accg.ca/


Think you might want to be a genetic counselor?


Contact one of the accredited genetic counseling training programs for more information: http://www.abgc.net/Training_Program_Accreditation/Accredited_Programs.asp

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