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
Previous Comment     Next Comment     Back to List of Comments
8/7/19  10:42 am
Commenter: Apryl Prentiss

Conversion Therapy Survivor Urges You to Keep Minors in VA safe

I subjected myself to conversion therapy at the age of 19. I was desperate to change my sexuality as a Christian, so I sought help.  Instead, what I got was years of unprofessional, non-scientifically based "therapy" that taught me to hate myself.  I would be willing to speak to any decision-maker personally to detail how dangerous this practice was to me personally and to other people. 

LGBTQ+ youth are already at a higher risk for suicide and self-harming behavior. This number goes up when they are religiously affiliated.  When they are exposed to conversion therapy during a crucial time of trying to figure out and deal with their sexuality, their risk increases exponentially.  This is not a free speech issue. This is about a dangerous practice that has been discredited by virtually EVERY major medical organization that we trust to guide safe practices.  What I would like to emphasize is this: When a mental health professional says that they can help a young person change their sexuality, and those SOCE prove unsuccessfully, this young person is told and infers that the problem is with them. Why? Because an "expert" has told them they can change, when they can't. This activates the extremely insidious guilt/shame cycle that often leads to suicide and self-harm.  It has taken me a decade to work through the damage that conversion therapy did to me.  Please protect our youth. Give them safety in which to figure out their sexuality and let them seek this kind of therapy when they are adults, if they wish, when they have the maturity to see it for the discredited practice that it is.  

Thank you. 

CommentID: 75256