Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Counseling
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4/14/19  8:33 pm
Commenter: Bethany Teachman, Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia

Conversion therapy has high potential to cause harm

The scientific evidence regarding conversion therapies suggests that these are very unlikely to change an individual’s sexual orientation, but instead are far more likely to increase levels of harm and distress, by directly implying that same sex attractions are disordered.  

‘Free speech’ has never been accepted as a rationale to allow harmful or ineffective medical practice. Nor has it been used to allow providers to make unjustifiable claims about their practice (i.e., claiming that they can change sexual orientation in the absence of evidence that this is a reasonable possibility).

For consenting adults, allowing conversion therapy provides a degree of freedom, but only at the cost of encouraging a practice that is expensive and likely ineffective.

For adolescents, allowing conversion therapy is likely to be harmful, as it stigmatizes an adolescent for their sexual orientation at a vulnerable time in life. The results of allowing this discredited practice to continue are likely to be significant harm to the adolescent at a critical period in their development.

CommentID: 71391