Genetic counselors have advanced training in medical genetics and counseling to guide and support patients seeking more information about how inherited diseases and conditions might affect them or their families. Genetic counselors can interpret genetic test results based on your personal and family history. Doing so can help inform personalized prevention and treatment plans.
Most genetic counselors work in a clinic or hospital, often in partnership with other doctors and members of your healthcare team. Genetic counselors may provide general care or specialize in one or more areas including prenatal/family planning, pediatrics, cancer, or neurology.
Genetic testing is the use of a laboratory test to look for genetic variations associated with a disease. Ideally, a person who undergoes a genetic test will discuss the meaning of the test and its results with a genetic counselor.
You may be referred to a genetic counselor by a doctor to discuss your family history and genetic risks, or before or after having genetic testing. While genetic counselors are not medical doctors, they are part of your healthcare team and work with you and your doctor to help you understand:
- Your genetic risks based on your family history
- Your genetic risks for certain diseases
- Whether genetic testing might be right for you
- What the results of genetic tests may mean for you and your family
With expertise in counseling, genetic counselors can also provide emotional support as you make healthcare decisions.
Learn more from the National Society of Genetic Counselors.