An increased number of visitors searching for conversion therapy on my website prompted me to write this post. If you are looking for conversion or reparative therapy – which aims at changing your sexual orientation or gender identity – please read on. For parents looking for conversion therapy for their children, please read my blog post on Counselling Directory.
Let me start with the facts: A growing evidence base confirms conversion therapy is harmful (Beckstead 2012, Beckstead & Morrow 2004, Haldeman 2004, Shidlo & Schroeder 2002). In addition, there is a lack of evidence that conversion therapy changes sexual orientation (Adelson & AACAP 2012, APA 2009, APA 2000). The World Health Organization (WHO) states that conversion therapies “have no medical indication and represent a severe threat to the health and human rights of the affected persons” (PAHO 2012). Conversion therapy is unethical!
The sad truth is people with differing sexual orientation or gender identity are oftentimes desperate to change. A recent survey by the UK Government Equality Office identified that 5% of respondents had been offered conversion therapy (but did not take it up) and a further 2% had undergone it (2018) – despite all the evidence against it.
So what can you do?
Conversion therapy is unethical! It harms people. Instead of conversion therapy try to find an accepting therapist who affirms your gender identity and sexual orientation. If therapy is too much right now, you can anonymously contact Switchboard – a helpline specifically dedicated for LGBTQ+ folks. London Friend and Terrence Higgins Trust offer affordable counselling. Pink Therapy has links to accredited therapists. Or get in touch with me for a commitment-free discovery session.
- Adelson, S. L. and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Committee on Quality Issues (CQI) , 2012. Practice parameter on gay, lesbian, or bisexual sexual orientation, gender nonconformity, and gender discordance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. V 51.9, 957-974.
- American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on the Appropriate Therapeutic Response to Sexual Orientation, 2009. Report of the Task Force on the Appropriate Therapeutic Response to Sexual Orientation. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
- American Psychiatric Association (APA) Commission on Psychotherapy by Psychiatrists, 2000. Position statement on therapies focused on attempts to change sexual orientation (reparative or conversion therapies). American Journal for Psychiatry. V 157.10, 1719-1721.
- Beckstead, A. L., 2012. Can we change sexual orientation?. Archive of Sexual Behavior. V 41.1, 121-134.
- Beckstead, A. L. and Morrow, S. L., 2004. Mormon clients’ experiences of conversion therapy: The need for a new treatment approach. The Counseling Psychologist. V 32, 651-690.
- Government Equalities Office, 2018. National LGBT Survey. United Kingdom.
Haldeman, D. C., 2002. Therapeutic antidotes: Helping gay and bisexual men recover from conversion therapies. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy. V 5(3/4), 117-130.
- Haldeman, D. C., 2002. Therapeutic antidotes: Helping gay and bisexual men recover from conversion therapies. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy. V 5(3/4), 117-130.
- Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) (Regional Office of World Health Organization), 2012. Cures for an Illness that Does Not Exist: Purported Therapies Aimed at Changing Sexual Orientation Lack Medical Justification and are Ethically Unacceptable. Pan American Health Organization, Washington, DC.
- Shidlo, A. and Schroeder, M., 2002. Changing sexual orientation: A consumers’ report. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. V 33.2, 249-259.