Genetic counsellors

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About genetic counsellors

Genetic counsellors are health care professionals who provide individuals and families with information on the nature, inheritance and implications of genetic disorders to help them make informed medical and personal decisions. Genetic counsellors also provide supportive counselling to individuals and families with sensitivity to ethnic and cultural diversity, and they serve as educators and resource people for other health care professionals and for the general public. 

Genetic counsellors usually practise in a medical genetic clinic, other medical specialty areas, and related public and private health institutions in the roles of administration, marketing, consulting and activities related to research in the field of medical genetics and genetic counselling. 

Data availability

CIHI’s Health Workforce Database (HWDB) collects aggregate-level, standardized data on the regulatory environment, supply, and demographic and education characteristics of genetic counsellors in Canada.

Reports and analyses

Regulatory environment

In Canada, there are no legislated regulatory requirements for genetic counsellors. 

Practice criteria

To practise as a genetic counsellor in Canada, an individual must meet various requirements that may vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another. 

Common requirements

  • Hold a master’s degree from a recognized university program or equivalent
  • Achieve certification through the Canadian Certified Genetic Counsellor (CCGC) designation or its French equivalent, Conseiller(ère) en génétique agréée du Canada (CGAC)

Scope of practice

The scope of practice for genetic counsellors is articulated by the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors, which outlines the range of responsibilities that define the boundaries of professional practice.

Genetic counsellors are highly trained professionals who help individuals and families make informed medical and personal decisions by providing information on the nature, inheritance and implications of genetic disorders. Some of their main functions includei

  • Identifying individuals and families who may be at risk for genetic conditions
  • Interpreting information about a particular disorder
  • Analyzing inheritance patterns and risk of occurrence or recurrence
  • Providing supportive counselling 

i. Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors. What is a genetic counsellor? Accessed May 26, 2016.