The growing regulation of conversion therapy

Jack Drescher, Alan Schwartz, Flavio Casoy, Christopher A. McIntosh, Brian Hurley, Kenneth Ashley, Mary Barber, David Goldenberg, Sarah E. Herbert, Lorraine E. Lothwell, Marlin R. Mattson, Scot G. McAfee, Jack Pula, Vernon Rosario, D. Andrew Tompkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Conversion therapies are any treatments, including individual talk therapy, behavioral (e.g. aversive stimuli), group therapy or milieu (e.g. "retreats or inpatient treatments" relying on all of the above methods) treatments, which attempt to change an individual's sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. However, these practices have been repudiated by major mental health organizations because of increasing evidence that they are ineffective and may cause harm to patients and their families who fail to change. At present, California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, Washington, D.C., and the Canadian Province of Ontario have passed legislation banning conversion therapy for minors and an increasing number of U.S. States are considering similar bans. In April 2015, the Obama administration also called for a ban on conversion therapies for minors. The growing trend toward banning conversion therapies creates challenges for licensing boards and ethics committees, most of which are unfamiliar with the issues raised by complaints against conversion therapists. This paper reviews the history of conversion therapy practices as well as clinical, ethical and research issues they raise. With this information, state licensing boards, ethics committees and other regulatory bodies will be better able to adjudicate complaints from members of the public who have been exposed to conversion therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-12
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Medical Licensure and Discipline
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Health Policy
  • LPN and LVN


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