We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What does a Genetic Counselor do?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A genetic counselor is a valuable part of the healthcare team who has completed master’s level work in the study of genetics and in the study of counseling, usually through a genetic counseling master’s program. These specialists are trained in counseling many different types of people whose lives may be affected at some point by genetically caused illnesses or genetic risk for certain disease. While they investigate possible genetic links that might increase risk for disease, they also interpret medical literature and findings for patients to help them understand the possible effects that genetics may play in their lives or the lives of their families. In other words, as much as they investigate, genetic counselors also teach and counsel those who may be especially affected by inherited conditions or genetic misfires.

There are many people who may receive a referral to a genetic counselor. Women who have early fetal testing that shows a child may have one or more genetic anomalies may speak with a counselor to determine what these genetic anomalies mean if the pregnancy continues. Counselors may also be able to advise pregnant women about whether the condition affecting a current fetus would be likely to recur in future pregnancies.

When children are born with congenital defects, if parents have not yet seen a genetic counselor, they are often advised to do so. Not all defects or illnesses in children are of an inherited origin, but a genetic counselor can help determine this given current information, and again advise parents on the potential for other children having a specific disease. Sometimes findings from one child may suggest that older children might bear similar genetic risks, and in these cases, genetic counselors can suggest parents have their older children tested for a genetic defect or disease that has not fully been expressed, but could prove problematic later. This may prove life saving in certain circumstances.

The third group of people with whom a genetic counselor might work are those who develop genetic diseases in adulthood, such as Huntington’s or some forms of hereditary cancer. Genetic counselors may help determine if a condition is in fact hereditary, and what this means for the person affected. These findings may again be valuable to a whole family and could help a person decide what actions they ought to take, and whether other family members ought to be tested for similar illness.

While genetic counselors can help determine risks and advise people of them, their role is not to push people to make decisions. Personal prejudice on how people should act should never get in the way and this is something these counselors must strive to avoid. Rather, the goal of the genetic counselor is to allow people to get as much information as they can so that their decisions about future actions are informed ones.

Some genetic counselors do not work with specific patients but instead work for companies that produce pharmaceuticals, or they may do research and/or teach in academic settings. Others may take part in creating public policy based on research in their field.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.