What happens during a genetic consultation?

A genetic consultation provides information, offers support, and addresses a patient’s specific questions and concerns. To help determine whether a condition has a genetic component, a genetics professional asks about a person’s medical history and takes a detailed family history (a record of health information about a person's immediate and extended family). The genetics professional may also perform a physical examination and recommend appropriate tests.

If a person is diagnosed with a genetic condition, the genetics professional provides information about the diagnosis, how the condition is inherited, the chance of passing the condition to future generations, and the options for testing and treatment.

During a consultation, a genetics professional will:

  • Interpret and communicate complex medical information.

  • Help each person make informed, independent decisions about their health care and reproductive options.

  • Respect each person’s individual beliefs, traditions, and feelings.

A genetics professional will NOT:

  • Tell a person which decision to make.

  • Advise a couple not to have children.

  • Recommend that a woman continue or end a pregnancy.

  • Tell someone whether to undergo testing for a genetic disorder.

For more information about what to expect during a genetic consultation

The National Society of Genetic Counselors offers information about what to expect from a genetic counseling session and insurance coverage for genetic counseling.

EuroGentest explains what a person can expect during a visit with a genetic specialist and offers frequently asked questions that may be helpful during an appointment.

Information about the role of genetic counselors and the process of genetic counseling are available from the Genetic Alliance publication "Understanding Genetics: A Guide for Patients and Professionals."

The Illinois Department of Public Health discusses genetic counseling services and provides a list of questions to ask a genetic counselor.