Information for the public

What is Genetic Counselling?

Genetic counselling is when health professionals help people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and family implications of genetic conditions. This is done by:

  • Drawing a family tree and asking about family members’ medical information.
  • Providing emotional or psychological support to promote informed decisions and adapting to the risk or condition.
  • Analysing family and medical histories to determine if a condition is genetic (inherited), and if so, the possibility that it could happen again in the family (recurrence).
  • Explaining how the condition is passed down in families (inheritance), what genetic testing is available, what healthcare options are available, if there are prevention options, information and support group resources and research studies.

To read more click here.

What do Genetic Counsellors do?

Genetic Counsellors usually work in a hospital, within a multi-disciplinary team that includes specialist medical and nursing staff. The setting in which the Counsellor works may focus on a specific disease or genetic setting (such as cancer or prenatal work). To read more click here.

It is only GCRB Registered Genetic Counsellors who come under the remit of the GCRB. The Register on the GCRB website gives you access to a list of counsellors who have applied and met the standards for registration. To find out more about the GCRB Register click here.

For information on GCRB accredited MSc courses and the GCRB process used to assess courses, click here.

For information on GCRB competencies for registration, click here.

GCRB Registered Genetic Counsellors from a nursing background may also be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). To view the NMC register please click here.

For Genetic Counsellors setting up and working in private practice, the GCRB provides this GUIDE

The GCRB promotes the value of good genetic counselling practice.  For this reason the GCRB is concerned that a person who is not satisfied with a Registered Genetic Counsellor should have the opportunity to air their grievance or to make a complaint and seek resolution. 

In most cases, it is best to raise your concerns locally first. You can do this by writing to the Head of the Department in which the Registered Genetic Counsellor works, or by contacting the Patient Advise and Liaison Services (PALS) or the Chief Executive in the NHS Hospital where you were seen.

GCRB members are responsible for ensuring that Registered Genetic Counsellors practice in accordance with the Association of Genetic Nurses and Counsellors (AGNC) Code of Ethics and the GCRB Code of Conduct.

How do I raise concerns?

For more information on how to raise concerns about a registered genetic counsellor through the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) click here.