Conversion therapies are treatment program, whose objective is altering an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Although these practices have been unacknowledged and repudiated by major mental health organizations based upon the increasing evidence of them not only being ineffective but also harmful to the patients and their families.
What to expect?
Previously, professional organizations viewed conversion therapies as private agreements between individual patients and therapists. It was believed then, that efforts to “correct” homosexuality were a logical undertaking from which no negative effect is imparted. In the present times, however, severe complaints about poor outcomes have resulted in severe scrutiny. There is no leading evidence about the result of conversion therapy in changing sexual orientation. However there are several evidence indicating these treatments are harmful.
How does it work?
The clinical researches on conversion therapy has found that, homosexual individuals who were convinced to take up the therapy, later adopted a gay or lesbian identity or in general righteously chose there homosexual identity. They called themselves as “ex-gay survivors,” these individuals have successfully lived their lives on their own terms. Literature reviews and consecutive studies of patient reports depicts a disturbing picture: therapists administering conversion therapy actually is imparting psychological damage to patients and their families. Ethical violations in these treatments are as follows:
- Subjective informed consent
- Abandoning patients who eventually decide to come out as gay or lesbian
- Improper pressure placed on patients
- Indiscriminate use of treatment
- It has been observed that, patients with low motivation, and not the skill of a therapist or actual efficacy of the conversion treatment, is the primary factor interfering with change.
- These stringent ethical practices have raised awareness in major mental health professions, particularly due to the harm it can cause in patients. Moreover, all of these factors brings another ethical issue: Is it actually ethical to attempt to initiate and bring about changes in the sexual orientation of an individual instead of encouraging them to accept the sexuality? Is it ethically correct to impart harm on patients with therapy instead of uplifting the psychological well-being of the patients?
When is it used?
The aim of the therapy was to enforce cisgender personality. In the years of fruitless effort to change one’s sexual orientation, the therapy only results in an delay the decision to come out as gay or lesbian, which can be likened to a concentrated dose of antihomosexual stereotyping, may create intimacy and sexual problems.
Role of the therapist:
The practice of this therapy should be condemned. The following things should be taken into consideration.
- Regulatory bodies should be formed to take into consideration that no one is harmed by therapeutic interventions like the conversion and attachment therapies.
- Regulatory bodies should form stringent guidelines regarding the exceptional cases when the therapy can be administered.
- Although, existing legislation only bans conversion therapy upon minors, regulatory bodies should develop guidelines for dealing with complaints from adults who have faced the consequences of conversion therapies.
- As it is likely that most countries are banning conversion therapies for minors, regulatory bodies should be available for the public to register complaints about them.
Spitzer RL. Can some gay men and lesbians change their sexual orientation?: 200 subjects reporting a change from homosexual to heterosexual orientation. Arch Sex Behav. 2003;32(5):403–417.
Drescher, J., Schwartz, A.,Casoy, F., McIntosh, C.A., Hurley, B., Ashley, K., Barber, M., Goldenberg, D., Herbert, S.E., Lothwell, L. E., Mattson, M. R., McAfee, S. G., Pula,J., Rosario,V., & Tompkins, D.A. (2016). The Growing Regulation of Conversion Therapy. Journal of medical regulation, 102(2),7–12.