Because genetic counseling and genetic testing are so often linked, it can be confusing to understand how they are different.
Genetic counseling provides information and support
When you meet with a genetic counselor, you will discuss your genetic health concerns, your family history and options available for you to consider - this may (or may not) include genetic testing.
After meeting with you, your genetic counselor will discuss possible next steps and any options for genetic testing. Your genetic counselor will provide a written summary that includes what was discussed in the session, such as personal and family history and explanations of genetics and disorders.
Genetic testing is an option
If a genetic test is available that may provide you with information you want and you do decide to pursue testing, your genetic counselor will work with your physician to ensure the correct test is ordered based on your personal and family history.
If you do not want to pursue testing, your genetic counselor will help you understand other options that may be available to support your genetic health.
Genetic counselors help you understand test results
Genetic test results can be complicated, but a genetic counselor can help you understand them. Your genetic counselor will explain what your test results mean for you and your family and provide you with options for using that information.
Your genetic counselor will also ensure that your physician receives and understands your test results.
Genetic counselors provide ongoing support
Whether your test results will affect your health or treatment plan depends on many things, including whether any therapy exists for the condition. Once you have test results, a genetic counselor can work wtih your physician to explain the options you may have, from treatment to support groups.