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    What Does Genetic Counseling Help With?

    Genetic counseling is an incredibly valuable and important resource for many families with various backgrounds.

    Genetic counseling refers to the process in which individuals, couples, or families gain knowledge and advice about potential or existing genetic disorders. 

    The services that genetic counselors provide span across the medical, psychological, and social fields. They’re, in a sense, a home base for navigating your way through what otherwise may be a very confusing and difficult process.

    Keep reading to learn more about genetic counseling and what to expect from your first visit. 

    Genetic Counselors

    A genetic counselor isn’t someone with some light training approved to perform a job. On the contrary, it’s a healthcare professional with extensive training and often a graduate-level education. Most often, these counselors work at a clinic, hospital, or private practice. 

    Genetic counselors are tasked with an incredibly important job. They must analyze genetic testing results and then communicate that information to individuals and their families in a clear and responsible manner.

    Some practitioners will have specializations they prefer to work within. For example, they could specialize in genetic testing for cancer or prenatal genetic screening. 

    Genetic counselors aren’t only available for analyzing your test results, but also for providing counseling for those who have reason to believe that they have a predisposition to a genetic disease. Counselors can then provide crucial educational information about the risk and probability of passing on the disorder.

    They can also recommend important preventative measures and lifestyle changes that may help. 

    When you prepare for an appointment with a genetic counselor, be sure to bring all relevant information. This includes medical records, information on specific diseases or disorders, which family members were affected, and the age of a family member’s death from a specific disorder.

    This is all information that your counselor can use in your first meeting to piece together your history and begin to build a path forward.

    How The Process Works

    Genetic counselors play an important role in many family’s lives. Moreover, their goals are quite defined. Counselors are specialists trained to provide information that can allow the family or individual to increase their understanding of the genetic disease.

    This may range from simply understanding medically how it works to more everyday implications like how the disease might affect their lives on a daily basis. 

    Counselors are also tasked with helping individuals and families gain access and information to disease management, from medical treatments to various therapies.

    Genetic counselors are available to discuss the benefits and associated risks with genetic testing. This will help you make an informed decision that’s right for you.  

    Apart from the practical understanding and medical implications of the disease, genetic counselors also help families to manage psychologically, socially, and emotionally.

    When looking at the situation from afar, the process of genetic testing might seem like a simple enough medical procedure that may or may not be necessary for your family.

    However, when you look more closely, there are a variety of emotions and issues that may arise. Emotions like anxiety, anger, confusion, blame, and grief are common amongst family members.

    A genetic counselor is a great person to help you initially understand what’s going on. Additionally, this practitioner can refer you to the proper professionals or support groups in your area. 

    The counselor may help the family with processing the diagnosis by sharing tips on how to live with it.  Moreover, the counselor may refer to specialized therapists or suggest other resources that can help.

    A genetic counselor can be an integral part of reducing the individual or family’s anxiety as they come to terms with a genetic disease.

    If you or a family member chooses to have genetic testing performed, your results will most likely be shared with you through a genetic professional.

    This allows for less confusion and questions, and instead, it provides the opportunity for an informed discussion to take place.

    After the session, you’ll likely receive a formal summary of the results and discussion, which can be an invaluable resource as you move forward.

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    Conclusion

    Genetic counselors are an integral part of many family systems that are struggling to come to terms with a genetic disorder.

    These practitioners can ensure that their patients locate the right professionals or community resources.

    Getting in touch with a reputable and professional counselor can be a positive first step in understanding your future.