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Association News
APA Reiterates Position On Reparative Therapies
Psychiatric News
Volume 36 Number 13 page 34-34

In 2000 APA expanded its 1998 position on therapies, often called reparative or conversion therapies, that claim they can successfully transform homosexuals into heterosexuals. The policy makes the following points and recommendations:

• APA affirms its 1973 position that homosexuality per se is not a mental disorder. Recent publicized efforts to repathologize homosexuality by claiming that it can be cured are often guided not by rigorous scientific or psychiatric research, but sometimes by religious and political forces opposed to full civil rights for gay men and lesbians. APA should respond quickly and appropriately as a scientific organization when claims that homosexuality is a curable illness are made by political or religious groups.

• As a general principle, a therapist should not determine the goal of treatment either coercively or through subtle influence. Psychotherapeutic modalities to convert or "repair" homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable. Furthermore, anecdotal reports of "cures" are counterbalanced by anecdotal claims of psychological harm. . . .Until there is rigorous research available, APA recommends that ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation, keeping in mind the medical dictum to first, do no harm.

• The "reparative" therapy literature uses theories that make it difficult to formulate scientific selection criteria for [reparative therapists’] treatment modality. This literature not only ignores the impact of social stigma motivating efforts to cure homosexuality; it actively stigmatizes homosexuality as well. "Reparative" therapy literature also tends to overstate the treatment’s accomplishments while neglecting potential risks. APA encourages and supports research in the NIMH and the academic research community to further determine "reparative" therapy’s risks and benefits.

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