My name is Lindsay and I am an upcoming senior at the University of Illinois studying Interdisciplinary Health Sciences with a minor in Psychology. This summer I am interning at Owens and Associates with the hopes of gaining more experience in counseling and psychology in general. After I graduate college, I plan on becoming a genetic counselor.
Genetic counselors provide patients with inherited conditions education and risk assessment on their conditions as well as help interpret their genetic test results. There are many different reasons why someone would choose to see a genetic counselor. Families who plan on becoming pregnant or are pregnant may see one due to family history of a genetic condition, abnormal ultrasound findings, or advanced maternal or paternal age. Children or adults with family history of genetic conditions may see one as well. Additionally, genetic counselors are used in cancer settings with patients who have a history of various types of cancers.
In addition to the medical aspect of this career, genetic counselors provide supportive counseling to both the patient and family. Genetic counselors assist in reducing guilt, grief, anxiety, and blame the patient or family may be experiencing. They also help with facilitating tough decision making. Learning about how a potentially devasting genetic condition will influence you and your loved one’s lives can be incredibly challenging. Along with this, deciding what to do as a result of this diagnosis can also be very difficult. As a result, having a strong psychology background and counseling experience is imperative to ensure patients and families are supported emotionally while learning about their inherited disease.
Along with psychology being used in genetic counseling, more and more people are seeing the importance of psychology in other medical fields. It’s crucial for physicians to provide support and understanding to their patients. This is important to establish trust between patients and providers as well as effectively communicate medical knowledge to the patient.