About genetic counsellors
If you have a genetic condition in your family, genetic counsellors can help you learn about:
- how the condition might change over time
- how the condition might affect your life
- how likely it is that other family members will get the condition
- how you might be able to prevent other family members getting the condition
- how you might be able to connect with other families with similar genetic conditions.
Genetic counsellors can give you information, help you make informed decisions, or suggest lifestyle changes to help you manage the condition.
Genetic counsellors are trained to respect and think about your family circumstances, beliefs and values. They can help you understand complicated information and come to terms with uncertainty or anxiety about the future. They can also help you adapt to having a genetic condition yourself or having a genetic condition in your family.
Why you might see a genetic counsellor
A genetic counsellor’s most important job is making sure you have all the information you need about possible genetic conditions in your family. The counsellor can also arrange genetic testing.
You might see a genetic counsellor if:
- a condition seems to run in your family and there’s concern that you or your children might get it
- a child in your family has a serious problem that affects growth, development or health, and there’s concern the problem has a genetic cause
- you and your partner are closely related and are thinking of having a child
- you’re pregnant and tests have picked up an increased chance of a genetic condition in your baby or an ultrasound has found abnormalities in your baby.
Your GP is always a good place to start if you’re worried about your health. Your GP can help you decide about seeing a genetic counsellor and help you find someone who’s right for you. The Human Genetics Society of Australasia can also help you find a genetic counsellor in your state.
Before going to a genetic counsellor
Before seeing a genetic counsellor, it’s a good idea to find out about the following things:
- Why you’re going: talk with your GP about why you need to see a genetic counsellor.
- Appointments: do you need to make the appointment or will the GP make it for you?
- Waiting lists: how long before you can get an appointment to see the genetic counsellor?
- Is there anything you can do while you’re waiting for the appointment?
- Costs: how much will the appointment with the genetic counsellor cost? There might be a cost, so check whether you can get money back from Medicare or private health insurance or whether you can get some other kind of financial help.
- Locations: find out where you have to go to see the genetic counsellor – for example, a public or private hospital, or consulting rooms. You might have to travel further than you expect, depending on your needs.