Should psychiatrists sometimes refer patients or patients' families for
psychiatric genetic counseling?
Two people who provide psychiatric genetic counseling think so. One is
Holly Peay, M.S., associate director of the genetic counseling training
program at the National Institutes of Health. The other is Christine Finn,
M.D., a psychiatry instructor at Harvard Medical School and a medical
Peay believes that psychiatrists should answer patients' questions about
psychiatric genetics that they feel comfortable answering. But if the
questions are too complicated or outside their comfort level, they might then
want to refer the patients to a psychiatric genetic counselor, she said (see
Psychiatric Genetic Counseling: Don't Expect Easy Answers).
But then comes the challenge of locating a genetic counselor who can
provide the services, since there are so few who specialize in psychiatric
genetics. One way to find an appropriate counselor, Finn suggested, would be
to contact a local medical center. "Most major medical centers at this
point have at least one genetic counselor," said Peay.
Another possible tack, both Finn and Peay agreed, would be to visit the Web
site of the National Society of Genetic Counselors at<www.nsgc.org>.
There, one can search for a local genetics professional or a genetics
professional by specialty—for example, psychiatric genetics.