Facts and myths of Genetic counselling


Did you know that heatwaves in London are followed by beautiful colourful thunderstorms. The pictures of lightning over London sights are lovely! The call is a Spanish Plume, because the heat is still pretty intense.

I’m more than half way through and I wrote a lot less than I intended to in this blog. Goes to show that I was so absorbed in my learning, and preparing my ethics application for my research project that this just hasn’t had time to be written.

Every day I learn a bit more what it means to be a genetic counsellor. And every day I like it more and more. A typical day in the life of a GC doesn’t come very often. The days are ever changing, and within the NHS guidelines and research always make changes in routines. Typical GC clinics range from predictive BRCA meetings (which have become more common after Angelina Jolie’s announcement), to stressful rapid access meetings that have been scheduled last meeting to deal with pre-natals. The pyschological implications of genetic testing cannot be hidden in any appointment which is why the skills we learn are essential. It becomes so real as it takes the form of a patient’s life and future journey. You cannot un learn genetic information, not can you change the genes you have inherited (yet).

Fact: The counselling aspect is integral

This is why it is part of the job description. Although there is no warrant (working on it), there is a strict registration board for genetic counsellors. This is because the skills of a registered genetic counsellor puts into play a number of counselling aspects as well as communication aspects. Did you know it was international law for someone wanting a predictive Huntington’s genetic test, to have at least two appointments before having the test. It is important for the person to undergo a thorough self-investigation of the pros and cons of the test, ensuring that their own personal decision makes the pros outweigh the cons. All genetic counsellors are very protective of their HD families and this shows the strong bond GCs form with these patients.

Myth: GCs are behind a strong eugenics movement

Anyone who has experienced a appointment with a registered genetic counsellor will tell you that this is not the case. GCs are essential to the education and support of families with any genetic condition. The approach of a GC is non directive and especially nowadays with cancer, the aim is to ensure people have measures in place to protect them and to make informed decision. Apart from non directiveness, GCs are realistic and supportive. The non-judgemental space provided gives families the environment they need to make some really tough choices. Do not judge is the old age adage that form one of the competencies of a Genetic counsellor today.


One thought on “Facts and myths of Genetic counselling

  1. Thanks for checking out my blog The Nexus of Epigenetics (http://wp.me/P4RCji-1). I talk about the science of epigenetics, but my primary focus is the history and politics of epigenetics. As a budding Genetics Counselor, you may like http://wp.me/p4RCji-3F or http://wp.me/p4RCji-2i or http://wp.me/p4RCji-2 or http://wp.me/p4RCji-5X, but feel free to browse around and comment at whatever piques your interest. You can also follow my epigenetics-themed feed on Twitter at @EpigeneticsGuy (https://twitter.com/EpigeneticsGuy).

    Best of luck with your blog and in your studies.


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