Original Research

Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 640-652

First online:

“It’s Challenging on a Personal Level”—Exploring the ‘Lived Experience’ of Australian and Canadian Prenatal Genetic Counselors

  • Melody A. MenezesAffiliated withGenetics Education and Health Research, Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteThe Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne
  • , Jan M. HodgsonAffiliated withGenetics Education and Health Research, Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteThe Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne
  • , Margaret A. SahharAffiliated withThe Department of Paediatrics, University of MelbourneGenetic Health Services Victoria, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
  • , MaryAnne AitkenAffiliated withGenetics Education and Health Research, Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteThe Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne
  • , Sylvia A. MetcalfeAffiliated withGenetics Education and Health Research, Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteThe Department of Paediatrics, University of MelbourneGenetics Education and Health Research, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital Email author 

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Abstract

Prenatal genetic counselors work with clients who are at risk of having a child with a fetal anomaly, or who have been diagnosed with a fetal anomaly. This can raise challenging ethical, moral and legal issues for both clients and counselors. Few studies have explored whether this type of work impacts on genetic counselors themselves. Interviews were conducted with 15 prenatal genetic counselors, five from Toronto, Canada and ten from Melbourne, Australia. A qualitative approach was used to allow for an in-depth exploration of the experiences of genetic counselors working in the prenatal setting. While participants reported that working in a prenatal setting affected them in several ways, this paper focuses on one particular unanticipated finding—that of the impact experienced by counselors from both countries while working when pregnant.

Keywords

Prenatal Genetic counselor Fetal anomaly Pregnancy Countertransference Self disclosure Empathy Crisis Qualitative Pregnant genetic counselor Fetal abnormality Birth defect Allied health