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Psychologists say sexual orientation can't be changed through therapy

August 5, 2009 |  2:00 pm

There is no evidence to support the claims of some practitioners that sexual orientation can be changed through therapy, a special committee of the American Psychological Assn. reported today. Mental health professionals should not tell patients that they can change their sexual orientation and instead should help them "explore possible life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation," according to the report, which was released at a Toronto meeting of the association and online.

Although the majority of scientists now believe that sexual orientation is genetically predetermined, many therapists have claimed to be able to change gay people into straight ones. Spurred by the controversy surrounding such claims, the APA in 2007 appointed a six-member committee of experts to examine the review and update the association's 1997 report on the subject. Today's 138-page report, approved by the APA's governing council, represents their conclusions.

The panel reviewed 83 peer-reviewed journal articles that appeared in English between 1960 and 2007. Most were conducted before 1978, and only a handful had been conducted in the last 10 years.  "Unfortunately, much of the research ... contains serious design flaws," said psychologist Judith M. Glassgold of Rutgers University, who chaired the committee. "Few studies could be considered methodologically sound and none systematically evaluated potential harms" from the conversion efforts, she said. Potential harms include depression and suicide attempts.

"Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose," she said. "At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted, or its long-term mental health effects."

-- Thomas H. Maugh II

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Comments (13)

Also just in ...

Water is wet.
Stones are hard
Oxygen needed to keep humans alive.

save your shrink money and go find a man...if you're a man....or a woman if you're a woman....
I'd like a refund please.

I'm plotzing. I hear the Earth is round as well. Not gonna believe it cuz the bible says it's flat.

They're just NOW making this statement?! The only people that don't believe this are brainwashed religious types... or homophobic Supreme Court justices.

Of course, some people just ignore this topic altogether and go for the gold by disowning their gay or lesbian children instead of just trying to reprogram them.

The pastor of the church where I was baptized told my folks to do just that. I thank God they didn't listen.

This pastor, by the way, no longer ministers to a congregation. I suspect his "advice" to my parents may have had something to do with that.

What a surprise! Where was Throckmorton? Where was Nicolosi? Where was NARTH? Where was LaBarbera? Hadn't they succeeded in sufficiently stacking the committee with bigots? I'm shocked that the APA should reaffirm something we've all known anyway since the 1970s. Even Alan Chambers, the head of Exodus International says he's still a fag*ot. It doesn't go away, girls.

Of course it can't be changed through therapy - it simply cannot be changed; no more can the colour of one's eyes or skin, or one's blood type, be changed, therapy or no therapy. Those who want to "cure" homosexuals are merely using this as a way to deny their own homosexuality.

Cool. I mean, it seems obvious, but it's nice to have it proved. 'Cause now we've got science to back up our assertions!

The APA just confirmed what every intelligent person already knew. there is a related post at

Oh right! And you want us to believe that the world is older than 6-7 thousand years, that Man evolved from other forms of life, and that Obama is really a native born American. What's next? That America doesn't have The Best Health Care in the World?

Yet, at least one lobby group uses the study as support for their conviction (or whatever it is) that sexual orientation can be changed by FAITH. Which it can't. Sexual orientation is in your genes. If "God" wanted you to be straight - or have red hair - "he" would have given you that at birth.

Being gay is not a test of faith, something you should overcome. If you do, you go against your whole being, you mock yourself, and for nothing.

Try to be a good person to yourself and others. That's all.

And yet there are people out there, still, that will try and change someone’s sexual orientation and say that the study/recommendation is simply wrong. It is sad, but true. I am heartened by all of the funny and intelligent posts, though. My love to you all, I hope that whoever you are attracted to, you find love. I think religion (not faith) is the real evil in the world.

Thank god they finally realize this! I mean 83 studies is kind of enough to be true, right? Everybody knows being gay is innate. It's like what we always here that "We can't change who we are." It's like a skin color or ethnicity. It's with you since the moment you're born.

A part of this vdo said that people can't change their sexual orientation, but they can change their behavior. The reason why the therapy had been working for some gays was just because it taught gay people how to control their behavior.(but not to change their innate desire!) After the therapy, the patients feel more confident to control themselves and think that they're recovered when they're ACTUALLY not!!


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