Helen Bethell (Registered Genetic Counsellor) is a member of the Haemochromatosis UK team, helping members with genetic counselling. Helen also works part-time for the NHS Genetics Service in the North-East.

Here she explains what a genetic counsellor does...

There are many different definitions about what Genetic or Genomic Counselling is and, in truth, almost every session is different!!  The title itself can be misleading; we do use a variety of counselling skills in our work, but we are not counsellors specifically.  

Helen has recorded this webinar, explaining some of the background of genetics and how Haemochromatosis UK members may benefit from genetic counselling.

What does a genetic counsellor do?

A genetic counsellor’s main role is to help patients and their relatives understand the genetic diagnosis that has been made, to understand how it has occurred and how it may be passed on, so that ultimately that can make informed decisions about managing their risks and planning a family.

As such there is 4 main areas which Genetic Counsellors cover:

  • Collecting information and carrying out genetic risk assessment(s)
  • Communicating information to patients and/or other health professionals
  • Supporting patients/relatives decide on a management strategy that is right for them
  • Providing support to patients and their families

How can a genetic counsellor help members?

When a genetic diagnosis is made often some of the first questions patients ask are…

  • Will my relatives get ill?
  • Are my children at risk?
  • What can I do to protect relatives from harm?
  • How do we get genetic testing?

A genetic counsellor can help to answer each of these questions, as well as offer help support in helping patients adjusting emotionally to your diagnosis. 

How can I request a genetic counselling appointment?

Our charity provides genetic counselling appointments for Haemochromatosis UK members.

For further details or to arrange an appointment, check out our website here.