Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Counseling
Regulations Governing the Practice of Professional Counseling [18 VAC 115 ‑ 20]
Action Unprofessional conduct - conversion therapy
Comment Period Ended on 8/7/2019
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8/2/19  5:00 pm
Commenter: Elizabeth Morgan Patterson

Support to Ban Conversion Therapy

My name is Elizabeth Morgan Patterson, and I am currently getting my masters in counselor's education at Virginia Tech. I am writing today in support of this bill. At its very core, the idea of Conversion therapy is unethical. I am totally shocked and embarrassed as both a future counselor as well as a residence of Virginia that the law (on conversion therapy) is so far behind the science. Homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1973. It has been 46 years that this ridiculous law has remained in existence despite the fact that homosexuality is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental illness. In addition to this fact, in 2007 the APA overtook research on the efficacy of conversion therapy and found that "it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through SOCE (sexual orientation change efforts). In accordance with this information, through their research, the APA also found that it was impossible to make a definitive statement about the safety of this "therapy" for its clients.

            In addition to its clear lack of scientific support, several influential organizations have spoken out, themselves, about conversion therapy and its harmful repercussions. To name a couple, the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry was quoted saying "The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds no evidence to support the application of any “therapeutic intervention” operating under the premise that a specific sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression is pathological. Furthermore, based on the scientific evidence, the AACAP asserts that such “conversion therapies” (or other interventions imposed with the intent of promoting a particular sexual orientation and/or gender as a preferred outcome) lack scientific credibility and clinical utility. Additionally, there is evidence that such interventions are harmful. As a result, “conversion therapies” should not be part of any behavioral health treatment of children and adolescents."

            The American Psychiatric Association stated that “The potential risks of “reparative therapy” are great and include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone “reparative therapy” relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian are not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed...”

            The time for this change is overdue. I support this bill to ban conversion therapy because I believe it is our job, as human beings, to be advocates for one another and speak out when something is wrong. We have grown and learned over the last several decades, the science has supported us- now it is time that our laws did too.


The resources/quotes I have used for my argument can be found at the following web addresses:

CommentID: 74896