April 9, 2015
American Psychological Association Applauds President Obama’s Call to End Use of Therapies Intended to Change Sexual Orientation
The American Psychological Association expressed strong support for President Obama’s call for a society that accepts young people in their gender and sexual development, rather than rejecting them, labeling them as bad, or suggesting that they should change. APA has previously voiced its concerns about the scientific and ethical basis of efforts to change sexual orientation and about the way the promotion of such efforts by some individuals and organizations contributes to the social stigma that harms gender and sexual minorities.
“So-called reparative therapies are aimed at ‘fixing’ something that is not a mental illness and therefore does not require therapy. There is insufficient scientific evidence that they work, and they have the potential to harm the client,” said APA 2015 President Barry S. Anton, PhD. “APA has and will continue to call on mental health professionals to work to reduce misunderstanding about and prejudice toward gay and transgender people.”
A 2009 APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Response to Sexual Orientation (PDF, 834KB) concluded that mental health professionals should avoid telling clients that they can change their sexual orientation due to a lack of evidence that such change is possible and the potential for such efforts to harm the patient’s mental health.
A Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts, which accompanied the task force report and was adopted by the APA Council of Representatives, advised that parents, guardians, young people and their families avoid sexual orientation treatments that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder. It recommended that they instead seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services “that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.”
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes more than 122,500 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.