Genetic Counsellors: A unique skill set

Genetic Counsellors are pivotal to the interpretation of complex clinical concepts; possessing specialist skills and expertise to communicate genetic information to patients, to enable them to understand the impact of their diagnosis, and promote informed choices for the future.

The two words “information” and “communication” are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things, information is giving out; communication is getting through.

Sidney J Harris

In the first of our series of “Voices of Genetic Counsellors” videos, created by members of Wellcome Genome Campus Society and Ethics Research for the Association of Genetic Nurses and Counsellors, we explore the emotional dynamics surrounding genetic testing, and hear in their own words, experienced genetic counsellors explaining how the counselling process is more than just the delivery of technical information. The videos highlight how psychological expertise, and experience, enable genetic counsellors to support patients to understand and process their diagnosis, manage anxiety and grief, support communication with family, and enable well-informed decision making for the future.

The videos highlight how genetic counsellors use their skills to integrate the science, healthcare, and psychology, to help breakthrough the complexities of a difficult diagnosis, and enable patients to cope with the wider impact.

In ‘The Subtleties and Nuances’, we hear from Amy Goldman, a registered genetic counsellor working at Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust, in London. Amy discusses the subtleties of the unique social skill set used by genetic counsellors, to help patients think through their options, particularly with regards to their screening and reproductive options.

Amy Goldman (registered genetic counsellor working for Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust) – Helping families to come to terms with a difficult diagnosis.

In ‘Working Through Pros and Cons of Difficult Decisions’, we explore how Sara Levene, a consultant genetic counsellor at The Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health, in London, helps break down the scientific jargon so patients proactively consider the management of their own condition to stay healthy, and make well-informed decisions about having children.

She also discusses her specialism in working in pre-implantation genetic testing (PGD), a method to check embryos for serious inherited genetic conditions.

Sara Levene (consultant genetic counsellor for The Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health) – Integrating the science and psychology involved in genetic testing, so help families make difficult decisions.

Each share a moving story about a patient journey that has defined their career as a genetic counsellor, and reinforces how significant their physiological expertise and long experience are to the integration of genomics into clinical practice.

Watch the videos below, or visit our YouTube Channel.

Amy Goldman (registered genetic counsellor for Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust) – Discusses the skills needed in genetic counselling and how a genetic counsellor utilises those skills as they move between cases.
Sara Levene (registered genetic counsellor for Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust) – Discusses the skills needed in genetic counselling and how a genetic counsellor utilises those skills as they move between cases.

1 Comment

  1. It was nice discussion on both videos it is making to learn more and join as GC profession in India as we lack this facility.

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