About the issue
Conversion therapy, also known as sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) or reparative therapy, is the practice of counseling and/or psychotherapy that attempts to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The practice is based on the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a belief that has been found to be scientifically invalid in the mental health professional community.
Conversion therapy has been found to interrupt healthy identity development, create mistrust of mental health professionals, and deteriorate relationships with family, all of which can be especially detrimental to children and adolescents. Taking steps to ban conversion therapy practices with minors will protect LGBTQ youth and reduce suicide risk. It is vital to hold professionals and licensed mental health providers accountable and require that they follow an ethical code, including the prohibition of fraudulent services with no scientific basis.▲ Back to Top
Where we stand
AFSP stands with the research, clinical expertise, and expert consensus of every major professional health organization that conversion therapy efforts are inappropriate and harmful therapeutic interventions.
AFSP urges states to ban this discredited practice and protect LGBTQ youth through legislative action. In states without conversion therapy bans, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13-17 will be subjected to the practice by the time they turn 18 unless policy makers take action. State laws to prohibit conversion therapy by licensed professionals are critical in reducing the amount of youth impacted by its dangers.
To learn more, read our Conversion Therapy issue brief.▲ Back to Top