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Genetic Counselling

Our clinic offers free genetic counselling to individuals (and / or their families) who live with a psychiatric diagnosis.
About

Who we treat

This provinical service can help individuals with mental health disorders and their family members better understand the cause and potential risks for you, your children or other family members.

While there is no genetic testing for psychiatric disorders, the clinic offers individuals and families a very powerful service as it helps people better understand why they have a mental health disorder. The clinic’s counsellors can help patients reframe understandings of the causes of mental health disorders. This is the only clinic of its kind in the world!

Follow the Psychiatric Genetic Counselling Clinic on Twitter or Like them on Facebook.

Genetic counselling services are free for everyone. If you are interested in genetic counselling, call Angela Inglis at 604-875-2726 or Emily Morris at 604-875-2000 ext. 6787

Watch our video on "What is psychiatric genetic counselling?"

Read our articles in the: Vancouver Sun and Sing Tao Daily

Helping individuals and their families
  • Learn more about the causes of mental health disorders.
  • Answer any questions about the causes of their or their family members’ mental health disorder.
  • Address their concerns about potential risks for their children or other family members.
  • Discuss ways to help protect mental health and help promote recovery.

Genetic counsellors are health care professionals with specialized training and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counselling. They can tell you what is currently known about the causes of all mental health disorders, and can help you apply this information to best support you and your family.

 
 

As this is a new service that is the first of its kind in the world, it is important that we understand how it affects the people we serve. We are currently conducting a research study to investigate the effects of genetic counselling for people with a personal and / or family history of mental health disorders. We hope the results from this study will help other centres around the world in their efforts to provide similar services.


Some of us who are involved in providing this psychiatric genetic counselling service are part of a bigger UBC-based team, called the Translational Psychiatric Genetics Group (TPGG), which is led by Dr. Austin. The TPGG is interested in using a clinical genetics perspective to develop new ways to help people with mental health disorders, along with their families. This team conducts research studies related to mental health disorders and genetics. For example, investigating exactly how genetic counselling affects people, as well as exploring the effects genetic counselling on medication adherence, and trying to understand the potential causes of postpartum depression in order to develop better preventive interventions.

To learn more about our ongoing research studies follow our research group on Twitter.
 

Student placements and training opportunities are provided to students through several different mechanisms.

First, we provide clinical rotation opportunities for the University of British Columbia (UBC) genetic counselling students, as well as residents in both psychiatry and medical genetics who have interest in this area.

Second, every year, through a competitive process, we accept 2 genetic counselling students for a one-month paid internship.

Last, for clinicians who are interested in setting up specialist psychiatric genetic counselling practices in their own area, we are delighted to provide shadowing opportunities, mentorship, collaboration, and practical guidance to support these endeavours.

Through these efforts, we seek to expand the delivery of genetic counselling services for people with psychiatric disorders and their families.

For further information, please contact: jehannine.austin@ubc.ca


Service

During counselling

Prior to the appointments, the genetic counsellor will phone clients to discuss their family history. The genetic counsellor will try to answer any questions that you may have about the causes of your or your family members mental illness.

Appointments are free for BC residents and there are many counselling options, including:

  • In-person appointments at the Department of Medical Genetics: C234 – 4500 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC.
  • Appointments over the phone or via Telehealth (videoconferencing) for those outside of the Lower Mainland or who have difficulty travelling.
  • Outreach clinics throughout BC are also possible with sufficient demand (currently have a recurring outreach clinic in Richmond).
  • We have access to interpreters for many languages.

Length of appointment

The genetic counselling appointments are approximately 1 to 1-1/2 hours in length, and these are accompanied by a follow-up phone call, one month after the initial appointment.

After the appointment

Consult letters are written after every appointment and sent back to referring health care provider. Further appointments can be booked if patients have remaining questions and concerns to discuss.

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