Introduction to the Counselling Skills used in Genomic Medicine

Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Module

Module overview

The aim of this module is to provide students with an introduction to the knowledge, communication and counselling skills, and appropriate attitudes and behaviours, to support individuals and their families whose care will be influenced by genomic investigations.

This module will provide students with an introduction to the counselling skills used in genomic medicine. Students undertaking this module will be taught how to communicate and provide appropriate support to individuals and their families. Development of counselling skills will be achieved via theoretical and practical sessions through the use of role play within an academic setting. Students will understand the importance of a family history and communication of pathogenic and/or uncertain results.

Module content

  • Consent and what it means in relation to genetic and genomic testing.
  • Ethical and social implications of genomic testing.
  • How to record and interpret a family history, and recognising what is or may be relevant.
  • How to verify personal and family history information; consent, confidentiality and access to records.
  • Different purposes of genomic testing, including: approaches to prenatal testing, pre-implantation testing (PGD) and pre-conception carrier screening.
  • Strategies of approach to lifelong patient management of whole genome information.
  • Managing and explaining complex genome results.
  • Sources for patient support: patient support groups, on-line resources and other resources.
  • Communication and counselling skills, including: written communication skills (for example, designing written information for a patient); communication of genetic risk, including risk perception, and strategies for risk communication; communicating the relevance of genomic testing with a patient
  • Counselling tools to convey risk and other complex information.
  • Impact on the individual and family of a possible genetic condition.
  • Counselling theory that underpins genetic counselling practice.
  • The role of a genetic counsellor and the wider multi-disciplinary team.


15 Masters level credits

Module attendance required

Teaching delivered over 5 days.

Module dates

Semester 2

Module Lead 

Dr Laura Boyes (Lead Consultant Genetic Counsellor, West Midlands Regional Genetics Service)

Module Prerequisites

This module can be taken as a stand-alone assessed or non-assessed course.  

You should have a good honours degree in a life sciences subject, although we will consider applicants with alternative qualifications and professional experience within the health service or other relevant background. You should either take Fundamentals in Human Genetics and Genomics, Omics Techniques and Technologies and their Application to Genomic Medicine and Genomics of Common and Rare Inherited Diseases first, or be able to show you have equivalent knowledge and understanding to enable you to benefit from this module. 

Please contact the Programme Administrator for further information at

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