Genetic counseling can be thought of as a long discussion between the patient and the genetic counselor, during which time questions regarding heredity of specific diseases are discussed. Those seeking advice may be affected patients, family members who may be carriers of a disease, or parents who may wish to learn about the risk of further transmission. The genetic counselor is a specialist in human genetics and thus a specialist in hereditary diseases, modes of inheritance, and scientific approaches to diagnosis and treatment. During the counseling, the familial disease occurrence is requested, a disease pedigree is generated, and any existing preliminary findings from other disease specialists are recorded.
Ideally, medical history documents of all family members can be sent in advance so that the genetic counselor can prepare for the counseling session. The main goal of the session is to answer all questions from those seeking advice.