The American Psychological Association declared Wednesday that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments.
In a resolution adopted by the association’s governing council, and in an accompanying report, the association issued its most comprehensive repudiation of so-called reparative therapy, a concept espoused by a small but persistent group of therapists, often allied with religious conservatives, who maintain that gay men and lesbians can change.
In addition, the 138-page report — covering 87 peer-reviewed studies — said that such efforts may cause harm. The report cited evidence that efforts to switch a person’s sexual orientation through aversive treatments might cause harm, including loss of sexual feeling, suicidality, depression and anxiety.
The report noted that some people attempt to change their sexual orientation because it conflicts with their religious beliefs, and recommended that their mental health care providers help them “explore possible life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation, reduce the stigma associated with homosexuality, respect the client’s religious beliefs, and consider possibilities for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life.”