The past two decades have seen an exponential increase in the demand for
genetic counseling services alongside the enormous advances in genetic science.
Although accurate genetic counseling relies on a firm medical diagnosis, accepted
definitions of genetic counseling also emphasize the educative and counseling
Genetic counseling is a communication process which deals with the occurrence,
or risk of occurrence, of a genetic disorder in a family. This process involves an
attempt by one or more appropriately trained persons to help the individual or
• comprehend the medical facts, including the diagnosis, probable course of the
disorder, available management
• appreciate the way heredity contributes to the disorder, and the risk of
recurrence in specified relatives
• understand the options for dealing with the risk of recurrence
• Choose the course of action which seems appropriate to them in view of their risk
and family goals and act in accordance with that decision
• make the best possible adjustment to the disorder in an affected family member
and/or to the risk of recurrence of that disorder
(American Journal of Human Genetics 1975; 27:240-242)

Further reading:

The following references and useful links may be helpful to prospective applicants
who want to read further about the field of genetic counseling:

•  Baker, Schuette, Uhlmann (eds) A Guide to Genetic Counseling. (Wiley-Liss, New
York, 1998)
•  British Medical Association (eds), Human Genetics: Choice and Responsibility
(Oxford University Press, 1998)   
•  Harper, Practical Genetic Counseling (Butterworth-Heinemann, 5th edition 1998)
•  Kingston, ABC of Clinical Genetics, (BMJ Publishing Group, London, 2002)
•  Skirton H, Kerzin-Storrar L, Genetic Counselors: a registration system to assure
competence to practise in the United Kingdom.  Community Genetics (2003) 6: 182-3
•  Weil, Psychosocial Genetic Counseling (Oxford University Press, New York, 2000)
Genetic Counseling
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