There is no firm evidence that sexual orientation can be changed through therapy, so mental health professionals should not tell conflicted gay clients that they can become heterosexual with such treatments, the American Psychological Association declared today.
In adopting a resolution, the APA's governing council said some research suggests such "reparative therapy" could induce depression or suicidal tendencies.
A task force recommended that mental health professionals "avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts when providing assistance to people distressed about their own or others' sexual orientation," usually as a result of religious doctrine.
Here's what Judith Glassgold, chair of the task force, said in a statement:
"Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation. Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE [sexual orientation change efforts] practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.
"At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex."
The APA urged therapists to consider multiple options — celibacy or switching churches, for instance — for helping clients live spiritually rewarding lives in instances where their sexual orientation and religious faith conflict.
No surprises here!