Professional Organizations: Statements on Orientation Change Efforts
American Psychology Association (APA)
Among the points made in the resolution are the following: there is no credible scientific evidence that conversion therapy works, there IS evidence that such approaches can be harmful, the more rigorous studies indicate that although people may change their behavior or the label they call themselves, their attractions typically do not change, that religious organizations should stop using unscientific data to promote the idea of change, and that therapists should provide accurate information, education, and support rather than unfounded promises of change.
See this link for full APA resolution. See this link for more information
American Academy of Pediatrics:
"Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation."
The above quote is from this article.
A more recent statement can be found in this article (see below for quote):
“Unfortunately, an additional barrier to care for LGBTQ (and other) adolescents may be a lack of mental health services in certain communities or mental health services that are not adolescent or sexual minority friendly. Services for adolescents in poverty may be even more limited. In no situation is a referral for conversion or reparative therapy indicated. An American Psychological Association task force to review peer-reviewed studies on efforts to change sexual orientation concluded that conversion therapy is not effective and may be harmful to LGBT individuals by increasing internalized stigma, distress, and depression.”
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy:
". . . same sex orientation is not a mental disorder. Therefore, we do not believe that sexual orientation in and of itself requires treatment or intervention."
The above quote is from this document.
American Counseling Association
“So what do ethical counselors do if clients state they are still interested in pursuing a referral for a counselor who offers conversion therapy? We advise professional counselors to discuss the potential harm of this therapy noted in evidence-based literature from scholarly publications in a manner that respects the client's decision to seek it. …………….. Conversion therapy assumes that a person who has same-sex attractions and behaviors is mentally disordered and that this belief contradicts positions held by the American Counseling Association and other mental health and biomedical professional organizations. Additionally, the ACA passed a resolution in 1999 stating that it does not endorse reparative therapy as a "cure" for homosexuality. …… “
The above quote is from this article.
American Medical Association
" . . . opposes the use of 'reparative' or 'conversion' therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation."
The above quote is from this link (see section H160.991 under Patient Centered Policies).
American Psychiatric Association
"Psychotherapeutic modalities to covert or 'repair' homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable. . . . anecdotal reports of 'cures' are counterbalanced by anecdotal claims of psychological harm. In the last four decades, 'reparative' therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific research to substantiate their claims of cure. . . . The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred . . ."
The above quote is from page 4 of this article. See also .. this link .
National Association of Social Workers:
"No data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and in fact they may be harmful."
The above quote is from this link . (see section under “Can therapy change orientation?”) See also this page.
The British Psychological Society
The British Psychological Society (BPS) opposes any psychological, psychotherapeutic or counselling treatments or interventions (often referred to as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapies) that view same sex sexual orientations (including lesbian, gay, bisexual and all other non-heterosexual sexual orientations) as pathological. The Society categorically refutes this position and honours and respects sexual diversity. In opposing these therapies, we join many other UK and international organisations that adopt this position, including the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association.
The BPS believes that people of same-sex sexual orientations should be regarded as equal members of society with the same rights and responsibilities. This includes freedom from harassment or discrimination in any sphere, and a right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change or ‘convert’ sexual orientation. The BPS believes that people of all genders and identities should be regarded as equal members of society and protected from potentially damaging therapies and pathologising.
The above quotes are from the BPS report entitled "Opposing Reparative Therapies Statement" found here.
Australian Psychological Society
As outlined in the Australian Psychological Society’s position statements (2000) on reparative therapy, these therapies are based on developmental theories with questionable scientific validity and the false assumption that same-sex attraction is an illness or mental disorder that needs to or can be “cured.” No rigorous scientific evidence has been produced over the last four decades to support these claims. Rather, evidence has shown that these therapies can have significant adverse impacts, including anxiety, depression and self-destructive behaviour.
The above quotes are from the APS position statement on the use of therapies that attempt to change sexual orientation found here.
I conclude this discussion and list of references with a blog post by Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a Christian Psychology Professor at Grove City College. He has been studying this for over 10 years and once served on the board of an orientation change ministry until he reconsidered the research in this area and discovered he was using ‘confirmation bias’. Confirmation bias refers to the tendency we may sometimes have to only look at data that confirms what we already believe. Dr. Throckmorton's blog post shows that as evangelicals we are not always getting all the information. Christian parents and their gay sons or daughters need all the information we can get so that they/we can make informed choices and decisions. While it would be impossible to give you everything in one page I hope you find this information helpful as you navigate this journey so that you and your family can avoid some of these pitfalls that many people I know have fallen in to. You may also find it helpful to read Shelley's story on our journeys page.