Diseases and disorders result from various factors. Some of them are communicable; meaning they could be transmitted from person to person or animal/insect to man, whereas others are non-communicable; meaning they are not transferable between persons. The latter is a result of a person’s lifestyle and day-to-day activities and some are genetically acquired. Genetically inherited diseases and disorders lead to this paper’s main discussion as the writer explains what genetic counseling entails and the tests involved.
According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), genetic counseling involves assisting humans to understand and ‘adapt to the medical, psychological, and familiar implications of the genetic contribution to disease’ (Resta et al., 2006, p. 79). The process of genetic counseling involves three steps. One, genetic counselors interpret medical and family histories with the intention of determining the chances of occurrence or recurrence of a given disease (Resta et. al, 2006). Secondly, the process involves offering education with regard to inheritance and testing. There is also education concerning the management and prevention of the genetically acquired disease. The second step also involves mapping of resources required for the management of the diseases and research is also carried out. The third step involves counseling those affected with the aim of promoting informed choices and helping them adapt to the risk or disorder (Resta et. al, 2006).
Role of a Genetic Counselor
A genetic counselor is a health professional who has been trained to counsel people on matters of genetics. These professionals are tasked with helping the patients understand how a disease can be inherited. When patients learn that they are suffering or are at risk of disease, fear builds in them. It is the work of the genetic counselor to ensure that such fear is dispelled and assure patients that a change of lifestyle could help reduce the risks (Harding, 2016). Genetic counselors should use a language well understood by the patient.
Types of Genetic Counseling and the Tests Involved
The two known types of genetic counseling are pre-test and post-test counseling (Harding, 2016). Pre-test counseling involves enlightening the patient on the purpose of the test, while post-test counseling is intended to allow for follow-up, in addition to offering the patient the necessary support (Harding, 2016). They are various types of genetic testing, with the most common ones being diagnostic testing, predictive testing, susceptibility testing, prenatal testing, and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis among others (Kaariainen et al., n.d.). Prenatal testing is carried out during pregnancy in case the fetus presents increased risk for a given condition (Harding, 2016). Another testing that is of importance is the pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. The latter involves testing the occurrence of a mutation so as to implant the embryos that are not affected (Harding, 2016).
Genetic counseling is important as it enlightens the patient on the possible risks associated with genetic inheritance and also offers solutions for the same. Genetic counselors should offer the necessary support to the patients and be keen to follow up on progress.
Harding M. 2016. ‘Genetic Counseling – a Guide for GPs.’ Patient. [Online].
Kaariainen H, Hietala M, Kristoffersson U, Nippert I, Rantanen E, Sequeiros J and Schmidkte J. n.d. ‘Recommendations for genetic counseling related to genetic testing.’ EuroGentest. [Online]
Resta R, Biesecker B. B, Bennett R. L, Blum S, Hahn S. E, Strecker M. N and Williams J. L. (2006) ‘A New Definition of Genetic Counseling: National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Task Force Report.’ The Journal of Genetic Counseling. Vol. 15 (2). Doi: 10.1007/s0897-005-9014-3