Genetic counseling is the process of providing family-related healthinformation and support to individuals. It involves the diagnosis ofhereditary conditions, provision of guidance and advice by aprofessional team to enable the concerned parties to adjust toheritable diagnosis. The professionals provide follow-up counselingand ongoing support by reviewing previous information and providinganswers to emerging family health issues (Ryan, Virani and Austin24).
A typical day as a genetic therapist entails operating either withina specialist genetic center or in general units. The specialists actas a multidisciplinary team made of individuals specializing inophthalmology, cardiology, oncology, metabolic clinicians andobstetrics. The guidance counselor spends the day providinginformation or exploring the client’s needs and circumstances. Theteaching model dominates hereditary counseling sessions where thespecialist spends most of the time speaking and consulting a client.However, research has proven that effective therapy occurs when thepatient is offered more time to speak. Consequently, the counselorengages in both the provision of information and conducting sensitiveanalysis to maximize the benefits to the patients (Skirton andCordier 454).
Some of the activities undertaken by the specialists includerecording the family history, drawing the pedigrees, assessing familyrelated risks, discussing the natural history of illnesses,evaluating the psychosocial impact of inherited diagnosis, providingpatient education, and discussing the available options. Thespecialist engages in activities aimed at addressing ethical issues,making psychosocial assessments and providing mental support.Additional underlying activities include the provision of public andprofessional education as well as undertaking newborn babies’screening programs (Skirton and Cordier 454).
There are times when the social worker conducts clinicalexaminations based on their work settings. Research reveals that 9%of counselors working in central units, 20% located in metro outreachclinics, and 42% in rural health centers conduct clinicalexaminations. Nevertheless, the analysis depended on the condition ofthe patient, and most of the examinations are done with the guidanceof a medical geneticist (Skirton and Cordier 454).
I would advise a newly pregnant woman to obtain genomiccounseling due to its benefits in avoiding various hereditary birthdefects such as miscarriages and Down syndrome. A hereditarycounselor can assist the woman in preventing stillbirths that emanatefrom innate genes by detecting the need for amniocentesis on thenewborn. Besides, if the woman is above 35 years old, they canbenefit from the early discovery of possibilities of Down syndrome onthe infant. The counselor can obtain the family history of the motherand the father to determine the risk of the baby to inherit intrinsicdisorders such as sickle-cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, and cysticfibrosis (Woolston).
The parent’s ethnic background can assist in revealing newborns’exposure to hereditary diseases. For example, the development of betathalassemia relates to individuals with Greek, Italian, or MiddleEastern Ancestry. Genomic counseling shows other risk factors thatcan cause harm to the baby such as exposure to radiation byconducting ultrasound or noninvasive chromosomal screening on theblood. The therapist assists in interpreting the results and providesfurther recommendations for tests that may confirm or rule outsusceptibility to genetic diseases. The analyst’s opinion helps inproviding peace of mind to the patient since it identifies inheritedconditions and offers options to reduce the risk to the newborn baby.Besides, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologistsrecommends that all women should have access to non-invasive innatetesting regardless of their age (Woolston).
Ryana, Jane, Alice Virani and Jehannine C. Austin. “Ethical IssuesAssociated With In The Context Of AdolescentPsychiatry.” Journal of Applied and Translational Genomics,Vol5, no.1, 2015, pp.23-29.
Skirton Heather and Christophe Cordier, et al. “The Role of theGenetic Counselor: A Systematic Review of Research Evidence.”European Journal of Human Genetics,Vol 23, no. 1, 2014, pp.452-458.
Woolston, Chris. “: Is It Right for You?”Health Day, 2016. Web. 06 Sept.2016<https://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/pregnancy-33/pregnancy-news-543/genetic-counseling-is-it-right-for-you-648141.html>