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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8/7/19  5:14 pm
Commenter: Dryden Epstein

Ban Conversion Therapy

Dear Virginia Board of Counseling,

I am writing in support of 18VAC115-20, 18VAC115-30, 18VAC115-50, and 18VAC115-60. It is imperative that the practice of conversion therapy be banned in Virginia for the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ people across the state. "Conversion therapy" is a complete misnomer, considering that it is not therapy and human sexuality is not something that can be converted. According to the DSM-5, homosexuality is not considered a mental illness, so to imply that it is something that needs to be changed or converted is extremely harmful. 

Continuing to practice conversion therapy would be a violation of the American Counseling Association's Code of Ethics. Section A.4.a. of the ACA Code of Ethics states that counselors must act to avoid causing harm to their clients. Numerous studies have shown that conversion therapy is incredibly harmful to the people that undergo it. According to a study performed by the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University last year, LGBTQ youth who reported undergoing some type of conversion therapy were three times more likely to attempt suicide compared to LGBTQ youth who did not experience attempted conversion therapy.

As a gay woman, this issue is near and dear to my heart on a personal level. However, the most important factor in this case is that conversion therapy has been shown time and time again to be ineffective and harmful. Ethically and morally, it should not be allowed to continue to be practiced. Ban conversion therapy in Virginia!


Dryden Epstein

Virginia Tech Counselor Education Master's Student

CommentID: 75475