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Stop Psychological Abuse: Resources

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Position Statements & Reports

American Psychological Association, Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (2009), available at http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Practice Parameter on Gay, Lesbian, or bisexual Sexual Orientation, Gender Nonconformity, and Gender Discordance in Children and Adolescents, 51 J. Am. Acad. Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 957 (2012), available at http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=38417#Section420.

 “Clinicians should be aware that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful. There is no empirical evidence adult homosexuality can be prevented if gender nonconforming children are influenced to be more gender conforming. Indeed, there is no medically valid basis for attempting to prevent homosexuality, which is not an illness. On the contrary, such efforts may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts. Given that there is no evidence that efforts to alter sexual orientation are effective, beneficial or necessary, and the possibility that they carry the risk of significant harm, such interventions are contraindicated.”

American Academy of Pediatrics, Homosexuality and Adolescence, 92 Pediatrics 631 (1993), available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/92/4/631.full.pdf.

 “Therapy directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.”

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, AAMFT Position on Couples and Families (2009), available at http://www.aamft.org/imis15/content/about_aamft/position_on_couples.aspx.

“[T]he association does not consider homosexuality a disorder that requires treatment, and as such, we see no basis for [reparative therapy]. AAMFT expects its members to practice based on the best research and clinical evidence available.”

American Counseling Association, Ethical Issues Related to Conversion or Reparative Therapy (2013), available at http://www.counseling.org/news/updates/2013/01/16/ethical-issues-related-to-conversion-or-reparative-therapy.

“The belief that same-sex attraction and behavior is abnormal and in need of treatment is in opposition to the position taken by national mental health organizations, including ACA. The ACA Governing Council passed a resolution in 1998 with respect to sexual orientation and mental health. This resolution specifically notes that ACA opposes portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation. . . . In 1999, the Governing Council adopted a statement ‘opposing the promotion of reparative therapy as a cure for individuals who are homosexual.’ . . .

[T]he ACA Ethics Committee strongly suggests that ethical professional counselors do not refer clients to someone who engages in conversion therapy or, if they do so, to proceed cautiously only when they are certain that the referral counselor fully informs clients of the unproven nature of the treatment and the potential risks and takes steps to minimize harm to clients. . . . This information also must be included in written informed consent material by those counselors who offer conversion therapy despite ACA’s position and the Ethics Committee’s statement in opposition to the treatment. To do otherwise violates the spirit and specifics of the ACA Code of Ethics.”

American Medical Association, Health Care Needs of Gay Men and Lesbians in the United States, 275 J. Am. Med. Ass’n 1354 (1996), available at http://www.amsa.org/programs/barriers/jama96.pdf.

“Aversion therapy (a behavioral or medical intervention which pairs unwanted behavior, in this case, homosexual behavior, with unpleasant sensations or aversive consequences) is no longer recommended for gay men and lesbians. Through psychotherapy, gay men and lesbians can become comfortable with their sexual orientation and understand the societal response to it.”

American Psychiatric Association, Position Statement on Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies) (2000), available at http://www.psychiatry.org/File%20Library/Advocacy%20and%20Newsroom/Position%20Statements/ps2000_ReparativeTherapy.pdf.

“Psychotherapeutic modalities to convert or ‘repair’ homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable. Furthermore, 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. Until there is such research available, [the American Psychiatric Association] recommends that ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation, keeping in mind the medical dictum to first, do no harm.

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 already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed.

Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.”

American Psychoanalytic Association, Position Statement on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression (2012), available at http://www.apsa.org/About_APsaA/Position_Statements/Attempts_to_Change_Sexual_Orientation.aspx.

“As with any societal prejudice, bias against individuals based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression negatively affects mental health, contributing to an enduring sense of stigma and pervasive self-criticism through the internalization of such prejudice.

Psychoanalytic technique does not encompass purposeful attempts to ‘convert,’ “repair,” change or shift an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.  Such directed efforts are against fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized attitudes.”

American Psychological Association, Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts (2009), available at http://www.apa.org/about/policy/sexual-orientation.pdf.

“Therefore be it resolved that the American Psychological Association affirms that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality regardless of sexual orientation identity;

Be it further resolved that the American Psychological Association reaffirms its position that homosexuality per se is not a mental disorder and opposes portrayals of sexual minority youths and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation;

Be it further resolved that the American Psychological Association concludes that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation;

Be it further resolved that the American Psychological Association encourages mental health professionals to avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts by promoting or promising change in sexual orientation when providing assistance to individuals distressed by their own or others’ sexual orientation;

Be it further resolved that the American Psychological Association concludes that the benefits reported by participants in sexual orientation change efforts can be gained through approaches that do not attempt to change sexual orientation;

. . .

Be it further resolved that the American Psychological Association advises parents, guardians, young people, and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and to seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth;

Be it further resolved that the American Psychological Association encourages practitioners to consider the ethical concerns outlined in the 1997 APA Resolution on Appropriate Therapeutic Response to Sexual Orientation (American Psychological Association, 1998), in particular the following standards and principles: scientific bases for professional judgments, benefit and harm, justice, and respect for people’s rights and dignity[.]”

National Association of Social Workers, “Reparative” or “Conversion” Therapies for Lesbians and Gay Men (2000), available at http://www.naswdc.org/diversity/lgb/reparative.asp.

“[P]roponents of reparative and conversion therapies, such as the most commonly cited group NARTH, claim that their processes are supported by scientific data; however, such scientific support is replete with confounded research methodologies. . . . [Reparative and conversion therapies] cannot and will not change sexual orientation. Aligned with the American Psychological Association’s (1997) position, NCLGB believes that such treatment potentially can lead to severe emotional damage.”

National Association of Social Workers, Policy Statement: Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues (2005), available at http://www.socialworkers.org/da/da2005/policies0505/documents/lgbissues.pdf

“Taken to the extreme, homophobia in social workers and other practitioners can lead to the use of conversion or reparative therapies, which are explicitly condemned by NASW.  . . . NASW reaffirms its stance against reparative therapies and treatments designed to change sexual orientation or to refer practitioners or programs that claim to do so.”

Pan American Health Organization: Regional Office of the World Health Organization, “Cures” for an Illness That Does Not Exist: Purported Therapies Aimed at Changing Sexual Orientation Lack Medical Justification and are Ethically Unacceptable (2012), available at http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=17703.

 “’Reparative’ or ‘conversion therapies’ have no medical indication and represent a severe threat to the health and human rights of the affected persons. They constitute unjustifiable practices that should be denounced and subject to adequate sanctions and penalties.”

LGBT Youth

LGBT youth looking for help should contact The Trevor Project at www.TheTrevorProject.org.

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