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Genetic counselling is a communication process that aims to provide information and supportive counselling to members of families regarding problems in growth, development and health that may have a genetic basis.
Patients can be referred to genetic counsellors available at genetics services in each state or territory.
The process of professional genetic counselling involves assisting patients to:
- comprehend the medical facts regarding a genetic condition, including the diagnosis, probable course of condition and available management
- appreciate the way heredity contributes to the condition and risk of occurrence in relatives
- understand the options for dealing with the risk of recurrence
- choose the course of action that seems appropriate in view of their situation, and risk and values, and act in accordance with that decision
- make the best possible adjustment to the condition in an affected family member and/or to the risk of recurrence of that condition.
During a genetic counselling consultation, the counsellor may discuss the following issues with the patient:
- Information about the condition
- key clinical features
- genetic contribution to the cause of the condition, including gene(s) involved, inheritance pattern, likelihood that a person who inherits the genetic susceptibility will develop the condition
- interactions between genes and the interplay between genes and the environment.
- Information about genetic testing
- availability of testing
- advantages and disadvantages for deciding whether to undergo genetic testing
- understanding and using genetic test results.
- Implications for family members
- medical and psychological implications
- implications for future reproductive choices, employment and insurance
- issues concerning the privacy and confidentiality of genetic information.
Resource for patients
New South Wales’s Centre for Genetics Education maintains a list of genetics services