Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Counseling
Regulations Governing the Practice of Professional Counseling [18 VAC 115 ‑ 20]
Action Unprofessional conduct - conversion therapy
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ends 10/30/2020


All comments for this forum
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9/27/20  5:19 pm
Commenter: Regan Price, Virginia Tech Graduate School

In Support of Proposed Regulatory Change

As a private citizen, a policy student, and an LGBTQ ally, I would like to voice my approval for the proposed rule change to ban conversion therapy by accredited/licensed counseling professionals. In my anecdotal experience, I have heard from many LGBTQ persons who were forced to endure conversion therapy and it caused emotional harm to their sense of well-being and acceptance of identity. Not only is conversion therapy harmful to the wellbeing of its clients, but it has also been discredited by almost all of the scientific community ("Conversion Therapy," 2020). I am pleased that policymakers and public administrators are working to create an equitable Commonwealth and ensure that we support the LGBTQ members of our community and not cause further harm through this discredited and harmful form of "therapy."

Conversion Therapy (2020). Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved: 

CommentID: 86693

10/23/20  1:42 pm
Commenter: Carrie Hartwell, PhD, LCSW

Ban Conversion “therapy”

I am an LCSW who has been in practice for over 20 years, serving a wide range of clientele including members of the LGBTQ+ community.  I am also a professor in a social work graduate program.  There is no scientific basis for “conversion therapy“ and substantial research demonstrating the significant harm it can cause.  It is based on the religious and associated political perspectives of those who believe (falsely) that sexual orientation is a choice and something that individuals can “overcome” through through coercive practices.  Science has consistently shown, however, that sexual orientation is not a “lifestyle” or a “choice” but rather a biologically based, inborn trait.  We are ethically bound to refrain from imposing our own religious, social, or political perspectives on those we work with, and we are ethically and legally bound to provide appropriate, evidence-based services.  Conversion therapy is based on intolerance for human diversity  and a biased moralistic perspective that conflicts with science.  As with any practices that have been consistently shown to cause harm or to be ineffective, licensed professionals in Virginia and elsewhere must be prohibited from engaging in conversion “therapy” as it violates the principles to which we are ethically and legally bound.

CommentID: 87379

10/26/20  8:43 am
Commenter: Ari Laoch

Conversion 'therapy' is unprofessional conduct

I am a Virginia Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, and a Certified Brain Injury Specialist-Trainer working in Richmond, VA. I provide mental health counseling and substance use counseling at a community-based organization and in private practice.

There is no scientifically validated or ethically acceptable way to change sexual orientation or gender identity and there is a consensus among professional organizations regarding the harmful effects of those attempts. Conversion (aka reparative) ‘therapy’ is harmful, unethical, and unprofessional conduct for any counselor; conversion ‘therapy’ is not in the best interest of the public.

The ACA Code of Ethics directs counselors to challenge our own provider bias, to provide competent services, and to challenge discrimination in all its forms. It is unethical to participate in conversion/reparative ‘therapy’ just as it is unethical to deny services to someone based on sexual orientation and/or gender. Counselors do no harm (nonmaleficence), we do good (beneficence), tell the truth (veracity), uphold and keep our word (fidelity), apply equal treatment to all (justice), and support persons in achieving their self-identified goals (autonomy), these are the ethical principles of a counselor. The idea of changing a person’s gender identity or their sexual orientation is unfounded and clearly unethical behavior.

CommentID: 87380

10/26/20  9:26 am
Commenter: Muriel Azria-Evans

Ban Conversion "therapy"

Please stop PROFESSIONALS from doing harm to their clients by banning this "practice." Virginia must be on the right side of history on this. We must believe in the research that clearly supports conversion therapy is harmful to others. We must ensure that our regulations reflect our fundamental principle of professional ethical behavior specifically nonmaleficence: avoiding actions that cause harm.  Thank you

CommentID: 87381