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Counselors in Demand

Counseling can help people make sense of and come to terms with incidental genetic findings, writes Eric Schadt from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in an opinion piece at Spectrum.

In 2013, the American College of Genetics and Genomics generated a list of incidental genetic findings that should be reported back to patients.

Schadt and his colleagues have studied how people react to receiving incidental findings, reporting in 2016 and 2017 that while many participants were satisfied with their results, they weren't free of worry or anxiety. Genetic counseling sessions, though, helped ease many of their fears, Schadt writes. He argues that as long as genetic counseling is part of the process, returning incidental findings is neutral or even beneficial.

However, Schadt notes there may not be enough genetic counselors to meet demand as genome sequencing and genetic testing becomes more common. He argues though that their skill set of understanding genetic testing results and how to explain it to patients is key. "Only with such knowledge and resources can we ensure that every individual's experience with genome sequencing is informative, supportive and beneficial," he writes.