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Ban Conversion Therapy

What is conversion therapy?

 

Conversion therapy (also known as reparative therapy, and increasingly included within the term sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), is defined according to the American Psychological Association (APA) as methods used that attempt to change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ individuals to heterosexuality. These attempts include a variety of different practices, ranging from talk therapy to “therapy” focused on aversion, which can include subjecting the individual to pain as a response to their sexual desires.

  

According to a study at the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute, an estimated 20,000 LGBT youth will be subjected to conversion therapy by the time that they turn 18 and an additional 57,000 will receive said therapy from a religious or spiritual advisor (Mallory, Brown, & Conron, 2018).

 

 

The negative effects of SOCE can be devastating and long-lasting. Individuals that have experienced SOCE and later seek counseling often demonstrate low self-esteem, increased levels of depression, and in some cases suicidal ideation (Horner, 2010). SOCE can also result in future relationship issues, as well as sexual dysfunction (Horner, 2010).

 

Ban on SOCE

 

In recent years, numerous states have proposed and passed legislation that bans the practice of SOCE on minors. There are currently 15 states, including Washington D.C., that ban this practice. The National Association of Social Workers issued a positional statement in May of 2015 that “condemns the use of SOCE or so-called reparative therapy by any person identifying as a social worker or any agency that identifies as providing social work services.”

NASW Position Statement on SOCE

NASW-NC's Press Release on Banning Conversion Therapy in North Carolina following legislation filed in the 2019 legislative session.

 

On Friday, August 2, 2019, Governor Copper signed Executive Order 97 to prohibit payment for conversion therapy for minors by any provider receiving state or federal funds, such as North Carolina Medicaid and North Carolina Health Choice, allocated to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

 

Read NASW-NC's press release about the Executive Order here.


NASW-NC is currently working with other stakeholders like Equality NC to advocate for a statewide ban and further policy banning efforts.

 

Resources for Clinicians

Social workers have the responsibility to not practice SOCE, and also to provide adequate services to LGBT clients and those that have experienced SOCE. The following resources may help providers to better serve these clients:

Stories from Survivors

Many professional health organizations have publicly supported anti-conversion therapy regulations. This link from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) provides a great deal of background information, as well as excerpts of statements supporting anti-conversion therapy regulations from organizations including:

  • American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry

  • American Academy of Pediatrics

  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • American College of Physicians

  • American Counseling Association
  • American Medical Association

  • American Psychoanalytic Association
  • American Psychological Association

  • American School Counselor Association

  • American School Health Association

  • National Association of Social Workers
  • World Psychiatric Association
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