Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 640–652 | Cite as

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

  • Melody A. Menezes
  • Jan M. Hodgson
  • Margaret A. Sahhar
  • MaryAnne Aitken
  • Sylvia A. Metcalfe
Original Research


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.


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


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melody A. Menezes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jan M. Hodgson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Margaret A. Sahhar
    • 2
    • 3
  • MaryAnne Aitken
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sylvia A. Metcalfe
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Genetics Education and Health ResearchMurdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.The Department of PaediatricsUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Genetic Health Services VictoriaMurdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  4. 4.Genetics Education and Health Research, Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteRoyal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia

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