Statement on Conversion Therapy or Sexual Orientat


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Statement on  “Conversion Therapy” or Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts

Sexual orientation and gender diversity[1], including being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ), are normal and healthy variations of human experience.  Sexual orientations and genders do not consititute mental health disorders (American Psychological Association [APA], 2012, 2015; Conger, 1975), and attempts to change or prevent sexual orientations or gender identities reinforce anti-LGBTQ stigma (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2015).  The Michigan Psychological Association (MPA) is concerned that youth and adults in Michigan are exposed to efforts to change their sexual orientations and gender identities.
 
Efforts to change sexual orientation, gender identity, or any component of human experience related to these, are commonly referred to as “conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy,” or “sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts (SOGICE).”  A consensus statement of experts who reviewed clinical guidelines, professional statements, and research, stated that such SOGICE  “interventions aimed at a fixed outcome, such as gender conformity or heterosexual orientation, including those aimed at changing gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are coercive, can be harmful, and should not be part of behavioral health treatment” (SAMHSA, 2015, p. 10).

Major mental health and health care associations caution against SOGICE, including the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2018), the American Academy of Pediatrics (1993), the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (2017), the American College of Physicians (Daniel & Butkus, 2015), the American Counseling Association (2017), the American Medical Association (2018), the American Psychiatric Association (2000), the American Psychoanalytic Association (2012), the American Psychological Association (2009), the American School Counselor Association (2016), and the National Association of Social Workers (2015).  For several years, the MPA has also expressed opposition to SOGICE (2016 Statement re Conversion Therapy).

As the mission of the MPA is to be “an organization for Psychologists working to advance psychology as a science and profession, and to promote human welfare by encouraging the highest level of standards of all branches of psychology”:

The MPA affirms that being LGBTQ represents normal human variation and does not imply or constitute a mental health disorder (APA, 2012, 2015; Conger, 1975; SAMHSA, 2015);

The MPA affirms that anti-LGBTQ prejudice and stigma at intrapersonal, social, and systemic levels and in multiple life domains including education, health care, and family, are detrimental to the well-being of LGBTQ individuals (e.g., Frost, 2011; Hatzenbuehler & Pachankis, 2016);

The MPA acknowledges that SOGICE lack a valid scientific basis (APA, 2009; SAMHSA, 2015; Shidlo & Gonsiorek, 2017) and are associated with significant harm including increased mental health problems such as depressive symptoms and suicidality (e.g., Ryan, Toomey, Diaz, & Russell, 2018; Shidlo & Shroeder, 2002);

The MPA encourages licensed mental health professionals, family members, and individuals to confront and reduce anti-LGBTQ stigma and to support acceptance of sexual orientation and gender diversity including being LGBTQ;

The MPA opposes SOGICE or so-called “conversion therapy;” the MPA supports educational efforts, legislation, and policies aimed at preventing licensed mental health professionals from engaging in SOGICE.

References
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (2018, February). Conversion Therapy. Retrieved from: https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Policy_Statements/2018/Conversion_Therapy.aspx

American Academy of Pediatrics. (1993). Homosexuality and Adolescence. Pediatrics, 92(4). Retrieved from: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/92/4/631.full.pdf

American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. (2017). Position on Reparative Therapy. Retrieved from: https://www.aasect.org/position-reparative-therapy

American Counseling Association (2017). Resolution on Reparative Therapy/Conversion Therapy/Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) as a Significant and Serious Violation of the ACA Code of Ethics. Retrieved from: https://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/resolutions/reparative-therapy-resoltution-letter--final.pdf?sfvrsn=d7ad512c_4

American Medical Association. (2018). Health Care Needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Populations H-160.991. Retrieved from: https://policysearch.ama-ssn.org/policyfinder/detail/gender%20identity?uri=%2FAMADoc%2FHOD.xml-0-805.xml

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Position Statement on Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies). Retrieved from: https://www.psychiatry.org/file%20library/about-apa/organization-documents-policies/policies/position-2000-therapies-change-sexual-orientation.pdf 

American Psychoanalytic Association. (2012). Position Statement on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression. Retrieved from: http://www.apsa.org/content/2012-position-statement-attempts-change-sexual-orientation-gender-identity-or-gender

American Psychological Association (2009). Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts.
 American Psychologist, 65, 385–475. doi:10.1037/a0019553

American Psychological Association. (2012). Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients. American Psychologist, 67, 10-42. doi: 10.1037/a0024659

American Psychological Association. (2015). Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People. American Psychologist, 70, 832-864. doi: 10.1037/a0039906

American School Counselor Association. (2016). The School Counselor and LGBTQ Youth.  Retrieved from: https://www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/PositionStatements/PS_LGBTQ.pdf

Conger, J. J. (1975). Proceedings of the American Psychological Association, Incorporated, for the year 1974: Minutes of the annual meeting of the Council of Representatives. American Psychologist, 30, 620–651. doi:10.1037/h0078455

Daniel, H., & Butkus, R. (2015). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Disparities: Executive Summary of a Policy Position Paper From the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 163,135-137. doi: 10.7326/M14-2482

Frost, D. M. (2011). Social stigma and its consequences for the socially stigmatized. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5, 824-839. DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00394.x

Hatzenbuehler, M. L., & Pachankis, J. E. (2016). Stigma and Minority Stress as Social Determinants of Health Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth: Research Evidence and Clinical Implications. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 63, 985 – 997.   

National Association of Social Workers. (2015, May, 1). Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) and Conversion Therapy with Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals, and Transgender Persons. Retrieved from:  https://www.socialworkers.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=IQYALknHU6s%3D&portalid=0

Ryan, C., Toomey, R. B., Diaz, R. M., & Russell, S. T. (2018). Parent-Initiated Sexual Orientation Change Efforts with LGBT Adolescents: Implications for Young Adult Mental Health and Adjustment. Journal of Homosexuality. doi: 10.1080/00918369.2018.1538407

Shidlo, A., & Gonsiorek, J. C. (2017). Psychotherapy with clients who have been through sexual orientation change interventions or request to change their sexual orientation. In K. A. DeBord, A. R. Fischer, K. J. Bieschke, & R. M. Perez (Eds.), Handbook of sexual orientation and gender diversity in counseling and psychotherapy (pp. 291-312). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.

Shidlo, A., & Schroeder, M. (2002). Changing sexual orientation: A consumer’s report. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice,33, 249-259.

Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (2015). Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 15-4928. Rockville, MD.
 
[1] For more information about and definitions related to sexual orientation and gender diversity, please see the American Psychological Association’s Help Center at: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation
 

Approved September 2019