Conversion therapy (CT), also referred to as “reparative therapy”, is the effort to change people’s sexual orientation or gender expression through cognitive, pscyhological, behavioral, religious, or spiritual interventions. CT is rooted in the pseudoscientific notion that any nonheterosexual sexual orientation or non-conforming gender expression is a pathology in need of a “cure.”
CT is based on debunked theories and typically utilizes harmful tactics such as repression, fear, isolation, and misinformation. A routinely damaging aspect of CT includes falsely blaming parents for the non-heterosexuality or gender non-conformity of their child. This ultimately leads to new attachment traumas and deeply harms family systems. When CT practices inevitably fail to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender expression, the individual is often unfairly held at fault. This cultivates guilt and shame that can fester within the individual for years. Tragically, CT often results in psychological and sexual abuse and predation, as well.
Almost all major health and psychology organizations condemn CT, with the American Psychological Association (APA) stating that conversion therapy clients are “at risk of family rejection, depression, health risks, homelessness, and death by suicide.”