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APA warns against telling clients their sexual orientation can be changed

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Glassgold-BP.jpgThe American Psychological Association (APA) adopted a resolution on August 5, 2009, which states that practitioners should avoid telling clients that they can change from gay to straight through therapy.  "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts" is the work of an APA task force which was convened to examine their standing recommendations.  

The task force conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed journals and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support claims that sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) -- often referred to as "conversion therapy" or "reparative therapy" -- actually works.  According to a statement released by the APA the resolution "advises that parents, guardians, young people and their families avoid sexual orientation treatments that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and instead 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.' "

Task force chair, Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, stated,
Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation.  Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.  At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex.

The task force recognized that some individuals who see SOCE treatment do so because of the distress that they feel from a conflict between their sexual desires and religious or cultural beliefs.  The resolution advises therapists "be completely honest about the likelihood of sexual orientation change, and that they help clients explore their assumptions and goals with respect to both religion and sexuality," said Glassgold.

Read the full resolution:
"Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts"

PHOTO: Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD; credit Grant Martin

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This page contains a single entry by PHS published on September 1, 2009 2:10 PM.

Letter from the Chair in Sexual Health was the previous entry in this blog.

India decriminalizes homosexuality is the next entry in this blog.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PHS published on September 1, 2009 2:10 PM.

Letter from the Chair in Sexual Health was the previous entry in this blog.

India decriminalizes homosexuality is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.