Statements by national medical organizations

All major medical organizations have spoken out against conversion, or reparative, therapy.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, “there is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of ‘reparative therapy’ as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation” and “[t]he potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great and include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.”

The only study purporting to show success from conversion therapy has been discredited; the methods used to gather data from patients were fatally flawed, and, consequently, its results fail to withstand scrutiny. Dr. Robert Spitzer, the study’s primary author apologized for producing misleading research.

Set out below are statements about conversion therapy made by major medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatricics, the American Medical Association, and the American Psychological Association:

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) finds no evidence to support the application of any “therapeutic intervention” operating under the premise that a specific sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression is pathological. Furthermore, based on the scientific evidence, the AACAP asserts that such “conversion therapies” (or other interventions imposed with the intent of promoting a particular sexual orientation and/or gender as a preferred outcome) lack scientific credibility and clinical utility. Additionally, there is evidence that such interventions are harmful. As a result, “conversion therapies” should not be part of any behavioral health treatment of children and adolescents. 

American Academy of Pediatrics

All children and adolescents deserve the opportunity to learn and develop in a safe and supportive environment. “Conversion” or “reparative therapy” is never indicated for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth; therapy is not effective and may be harmful to LGBTQ individuals by increasing internalized stigma, distress, and depression.

Homophobia and heterosexism inherent in conversion therapy can contribute to health disparities as marginalization negatively affects the health, mental health, and education of those who experience it. Struggles with self-image and self-esteem result in significant health disparities for sexual minority youth related to depression and suicidality, substance abuse, social anxiety, altered body image, and other mental health issues. 

American College of Physicians

Available research does not support the use of reparative therapy as an effective method in the treatment of LGBT persons. Evidence shows that the practice may actually cause emotional or physical harm to LGBT individuals, particularly adolescents or young persons.

American Medical Association

AMA opposes the use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.

AMA is committed to taking a leadership role in opposing the use of "reparative" or “conversion” therapy for sexual orientation or gender identity.

American Psychiatric Association

The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.

American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association advises parents, guardians, young people, and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and to seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.

National Association of School Psychiatrists

Conversion therapy has been shown to worsen internalized homophobia, interrupt healthy identity development, increase depression, anxiety, self-hatred, and self-destructive behaviors, and create mistrust of mental health professionals.

Paloma Schultz