Group Genetic Counseling for Ashkenazi Jewish Carrier Screening – Is it Right for Me?

Group genetic counseling is an efficient way to test many people for the same diseases in an affordable manner. However, it may not be right for everyone interested in genetic testing, and one-on-one genetic counseling may be more appropriate for some.

What happens at a group session?

The group sessions meet at 9AM on the first Friday of every month. You will pre-register for an appointment and the genetic counselor will explain to you the risks, benefits, and limitations of carrier screening for common Ashkenazi Jewish genetic conditions. Every group member will have the same test performed.

It makes sense for me to be doing the standard Ashkenazi carrier screening, but I still have other issues to discuss with a genetic counselor. Can I still come to the group session?

You can still come to the group session to get the baseline genetic testing, but you may want to consider making an appointment to be seen one-on-one to get the best care overall. Some common indications for a private genetic counseling session include:  having a personal or family history of a birth defect, intellectual disability, infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss, or a known genetic disease. Pregnant women may also consider see a genetic counselor one-on-one to discuss fetal genetic testing options.

How do I determine whether it’s more appropriate for me to attend a group session or a one-on-one session?

You should meet privately with a genetic counselor if there is any indication that the testing we order at the group session is not right for you. Some examples might be: if you are not fully Ashkenazi, if your partner is a known carrier of a condition that is not on the testing panel we are using, or if you and your partner are related by blood.

What happens at a one-on-one session?

In this session you will have the opportunity to speak with a genetic counselor about ethnicity-based genetic testing as well as personal issues in your medical and/or family history. The genetic counselor will discuss testing options and pricing with you. Some additional or alternative testing may be offered. Those attending a one-on-one session will not have access to the subsidized genetic testing price that is associated with the group sessions.