Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Counseling
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4/11/19  7:15 pm
Commenter: Alexis Dovel, MSW

No more conversion therapy


I support a ban on conversion therapy as it is an ineffective practice and one that likely causes harm to participants. Conversion therapy is associated with increased depression and anxiety. In addition, it perpetuates shame of one’s body and desires. It is not a practice that is productive to achieve greater happiness, comfort, self-actualization, or stability in one’s life. An environment of support and inclusion is much more likely to foster healthy individuals.


This is not an issue of freedom of speech. Those trained in counseling are skilled in using techniques grounded in theory that enable an individual to examine their own thoughts and behaviors, and empower them to make changes in their own lives. A high quality professional counselor has done work with themselves to examine their own internal biases and how that may affect their practice. In order to provide the best counseling, a counselor cannot express every personal opinion, belief, or thought that they have. They must take the time to share what the client needs, not what the counselor needs and not what the client’s family needs (who are often sending their adolescent children to conversion therapy). Conversion therapy exists to make others feel better and does nothing to assist someone struggling with the discovery that they are LGBTQ what that may mean in their lives.  


Families likely seek this counseling out of fear that their child is different, a lack of understanding that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality, or for religious reasons. None of these reasons are good reasons to take their money and deliver services that have no credible evidence that they work. It is unethical at best and likely fraudulent.

CommentID: 71233