Conversion Therapy and Mental/Physical Health
Within the past week, the Maine House barely passes (73 to 68) to ban conversion therapy in the state. Sometime in the near future, we're expecting the Maine Senate to vote. With all of this coming up in the news, We'd thought we'd give you a quick glance at how conversion therapy and the like affect your mental and physical well-being. According to the National Association of Social Workers, sexual orientation change efforts (aka conversion therapy, reparative therapy, and/or transformational ministries) "include any practice seeking to change a person's sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender."
Unfortunately in the year 2018, people still find conversation therapies helpful to "eliminate" the LGBT feelings we have. When forced or coerced into participating into these "therapies" their mental and physical health is put at risk.
In the past, they would use electroshock therapy or making the person nauseous when viewing a homoerotic image. Now they focus on attacking a person's mental well-being by "utilizing conventional counseling, spiritual interventions or even aversion therapy such as having the individual snap an elastic band around a wrist when aroused by same-sex photos" (USAtoday.com)
First of all, let's not forget that aversion therapy is utilized in many different types of counseling for addictions and compulsive habits as well as for many other behaviors. This is a well-known type of therapy that professionals use to help a client with problematic behaviors. It can be effective if utilized properly.
Second of all, in all of the research I've done for this article, every bit of information gathered states that there is no true scientific backing that supports conversion therapy. But there is a multitude of research as to what happens to a person forced into participating in it. For example, a study was done at San Francisco State University in regards to LGBT identified young people that if their family rejects them they are 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide, nearly 6 times more likely to report high levels of depression, more then 3 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and more then 3 times more likely to be at a high risk for HIV and AIDs.
There are many different associations and agencies throughout the Mental Health community that are against these kinds of practices. We've listed them in a prior article, but I've also put them at the end of this article for a quick reference.
As our queen, Lady Gaga, states "We were born this way baby". Don't forget to take some deep breaths and continue to fight for our rights.
If you or anyone you know is struggling please reach out to the statewide crisis hotline at 1-888-568-1112
Want to Ask Liz something?
[contact-form][contact-field label="Ask Anonymously!" type="textarea" required="1" /][/contact-form]
American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry
“The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds no evidence to support the application of any “therapeutic intervention” operating under the premise that a specific sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression is pathological. Furthermore, based on the scientific evidence, the AACAP asserts that such “conversion therapies” (or other interventions imposed with the intent of promoting a particular sexual orientation and/or gender as a preferred outcome) lack scientific credibility and clinical utility. Additionally, there is evidence that such interventions are harmful. As a result, “conversion therapies” should not be part of any behavioral health treatment of children and adolescents.” The AACAP Policy on “Conversion Therapies”.
American Academy of Pediatrics
“Confusion about sexual orientation is not unusual during adolescence. Counseling may be helpful for young people who are uncertain about their sexual orientation or for those who are uncertain about how to express their sexuality and might profit from an attempt at clarification through a counseling or psychotherapeutic initiative. 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.” Homosexuality and Adolescence, Pediatrics.
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
“[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.” AAMFT Position on Couples and Families.
American Counseling Association
“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.” Ethical Issues Related to Conversion or Reparative Therapy.
American Medical Association
“Our AMA… 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.” H-160.991, Health Care Needs of the Homosexual Population.
American Psychiatric Association
… In 1997 APA produced a fact sheet on homosexual and bisexual issues, which states that “there is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of “reparative therapy” as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation.”
The potential risks of “reparative therapy” are great and include 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 are not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed…
Therefore, APA opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as “reparative” or “conversion” therapy, that is based on the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or is based on the a priori assumption that the patient should change his or her homosexual orientation. Position Statement on Psychiatric Treatment and Sexual Orientation).
American Psychoanalytic Association
“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.” Position Statement on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression.
American School Counselor Association
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) youth often begin to experience self-identification during their pre-adolescent or adolescent years, as do heterosexual youth. These developmental processes are essential cognitive, emotional and social activities, and although they may have an impact on student development and achievement, they are not a sign of illness, mental disorder or emotional problems nor do they necessarily signify sexual activity.
The professional school counselor works with all students through the stages of identity development and understands this development may be more difficult for LGBTQ youth. It is not the role of the professional school counselor to attempt to change a student’s sexual orientation/gender identity but instead to provide support to LGBTQ students to promote student achievement and personal well-being.” The Professional School Counselor and LGBTQ Youth.
American School Health Association
“[T]he American School Health Association . . . expects that comprehensive sexuality education in schools will be scientifically accurate and based on current medical, psychological, pedagogical, educational and social research . . . [and recommends] that teachers be well-trained and competent to teach sexuality education as defined by . . . insight into and acceptance of their own personal feelings and attitudes concerning sexuality topics so personal life experiences do not intrude inappropriately into the educational experience.” Quality Comprehensive Sexuality Education.
National Association of Social Workers
“People seek mental health services for many reasons. Accordingly, it is fair to assert that lesbians and gay men seek therapy for the same reasons that heterosexual people do. However, the increase in media campaigns, often coupled with coercive messages from family and community members, has created an environment in which lesbians and gay men often are pressured to seek reparative or conversion therapies, which cannot and will not change sexual orientation. Aligned with the American Psychological Association’s (1997) position, NCLGB [NASW’s National Committee on Lesbian and Gay Issues] believes that such treatment potentially can lead to severe emotional damage. Specifically, transformational ministries are fueled by stigmatization of lesbians and gay men, which in turn produces the social climate that pressures some people to seek change in sexual orientation. No data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and in fact they may be harmful.” Position Statement, “Reparative” and “Conversion” Therapies.
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO): Regional Office of the World Health Organization
Services that purport to “cure” people with non-heterosexual sexual orientation lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said in a position statement launched on 17 May, 2012, the International Day against Homophobia. The statement calls on governments, academic institutions, professional associations and the media to expose these practices and to promote respect for diversity. Statement, “Therapies” to change sexual orientation lack medical justification and threaten health.