Definition of Genetic Counselling


Genetic counselling is a communication process, which aims to help individuals, couples and families understand and adapt to the medical, psychological, familial and reproductive implications of the genetic contribution to specific health conditions.

This process integrates the following:

Interpretation of family and medical histories to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence.
Education about the natural history of the condition, inheritance pattern, testing, management, prevention, support resources and research.
Counselling to promote informed choices in view of risk assessment, family goals, ethical and religious values.
Support to encourage the best possible adjustment to the disorder in an affected family member and/or to the risk of recurrence of that disorder

Source: Resta et al, (2006) A new definition of genetic counelling: NSGC task force report, J Gen Couns.


Definition of Genetic Counsellor

Genetic counsellors are postgraduate trained allied health professionals who support people and families impacted by, or at increased risk of having a health condition with a genetic basis. They integrate clinical genomic knowledge, health communication, and counselling skills to identify and meet clinical, informational, and psychological needs and promote informed decision-making.

Genetic counsellors work across all areas of health, in clinical care, research, academia, education, policy, industry and pathology. In clinical practice, they provide comprehensive, client centred, multigenerational care for families across a range of multidisciplinary healthcare settings. While genetic counselling may be part of the role of many different health professionals, trained genetic counsellors have specialist skills in genetic counselling. The HGSA uses the term ‘professional genetic counselling’ to distinguish genetic counselling provided by genetic counsellors from that provided by other professions (NHMRC Medical Genetic Testing: Information for health professionals, 2010). The Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA) administers the training, certification, and regulation of genetic counsellors in Australia and New Zealand.