After a 125-4 vote, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued its most comprehensive repudiation of so-called “reparative therapy”, or “ex-gay” therapy, the Associated Press reports. “Ex-gay” therapy is often sought out by patients who feel pressures from families and religious groups who do not support gays and lesbians.
The “Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts” points out that there is no solid evidence that suggest these kinds of therapies work; it also says that they have harmful effects like depression and can cause the “patient” to have suicidal tendencies.
It also warns mental health professionals that they should not tell clients that they can become straight through such therapy or other treatments. Instead, the APA says, mental health professionals should urge their clients to consider other options like switching to a church where there is no conflict between their sexual orientation and their faith.
This isn’t the first time the APA has criticized “ex-gay” therapy. The “Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts” is a review of a previous study published in 1997. The review was conducted because, despite the majority of scientists believing that sexual orientation is genetically predetermined, there are still many mental health professionals who practice “reparative therapy”.
A six member APA subcommittee assessed 83 peer-reviewed journal articles written between 1960 and 2007. The chair of the committee, psychologist Judith Glassgold of Rutgers University pointed out that many of the studies contained serious design flaws. She said, “Few studies could be considered methodologically sound and none systematically evaluated potential harms.”
GLAAD has long monitored these “ex-gay” activists and we will continue to shed light upon their discredited schemes. A reference tool called “Unmasking So-Called ‘Ex-Gay’ Activists” can be found on our website, GLAAD.org.