American Psychological Association Releases Report on So-Called "Reparative Therapy"
Concludes efforts to change sexual orientation unlikely to be successful, can cause harm
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised today the release of a report by the American Psychological Association (APA)’s Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. The report builds on an APA resolution, adopted in 1997, that called on mental health professionals to provide accurate, unbiased information about sexual orientation and to combat discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Concerned with ongoing efforts by some organizations and practitioners to suggest that sexual orientation can be changed through mental health interventions, in 2007 the APA formed the Task Force to examine all the relevant studies and update the 1997 resolution. That review, released today, concludes that there is insufficient evidence that sexual orientation can be changed through psychotherapy and instructs mental health professionals to be honest with clients about the inefficacy of such treatments and help them deal with distress over sexual orientation in a positive manner.
“Homophobia, bias and discrimination are what make it difficult for people to accept and be open about their sexual orientation,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We have to change hearts and minds, not our sexual orientation, and we are hopeful that the position of the APA helps to heal those who have been hurt by rejection and betrayal, and to foster greater awareness, skills and knowledge among mental health professionals.”
The report noted that many who seek psychological interventions do so because of distress over the perceived irreconcilability of their sexual orientation and religious beliefs. The Task Force encourages mental health professionals to be respectful of those religious beliefs and work to help them “address the reality of their sexual orientation while considering the possibilities
for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life.”
“We honor a person’s right to believe what they will but that right does not extend to hurting others. And, as this report aptly demonstrates, ‘reparative therapy’ programs are hurtful,” said Harry Knox, Director of HRC’s Religion and Faith Program. “It is critical for licensed professionals to understand that one can live a deeply religious life as an openly LGBT person. Many denominations, as well as individual affirming congregations and affinity groups, are leading efforts to create welcoming and safe places for adolescents and young adults to come out within a religious community. Young people need to know that there are diverse faith communities that will accept them just as they are.”
The full report is available on the APA’s website at www.apa.org
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.