To the Virginia Board of Counseling:
First, thank you for the opportunity for us and other fellow counselors to express their perspectives on such an important issue. As the current President of the Virginia Counselors Association (VCA), I have the privilege of representing our organization through this statement and we, alongside the American Counseling Association (ACA), strongly urge you to oppose any regulations that would support conversion therapy, also sometimes referred to as repairative therapy. In 2018, under the guidance of then President, Dr. Gerard Lawson, ACA provided testimony before the House of Delegates to prohibt the use of converstion therapy on minors within Virginia. (Link provided below).
Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the organization that also developed our primary Diagnostic Statistical Manual, made official statements in 1998, 2013, and 2018 in opposition to “any psychiatric treatment, such as “reparative” or “conversion” therapy, that is based on the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or is based on the a priori assumption that the patient should change his or her homosexual orientation.” (Link provided below).
The American Psychological Association (APA), the American Psychiatric Association (APA) , and the American Counseling Association (APA) all conclude there is insufficient evidence in the effectiveness of conversion therapy and related methods. In fact, there is empirical research of conversion therapy and related methods having harmful and distressing consequences to clients. VCA stands against the use of these practice across the lifespan, and especially so for those clients who are 18 years old and younger.
According to the ACA Code of Ethics, our guiding ethical code, the practice of conversion therapy directly violates one of our overarching goals as counselors: to do no harm. Should conversion therapy remain a practice, counselors would be practicing unsubstantiated intervention(s) based on the false belief that same sex attractions are a mental health disorder in need of curing. VCA as well as the other representing organizations of psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors no this not to be true.
Thank you for your consideration of these facts. We hope you reach out to us at the VCA should you need any more information or resources in banning conversion therapy as well as any recommendations for ethical, affirming, and culturally responsive counseling practices.
Monica P. Band, Ed.D., CRC, NCC
Virginia Counselors Association
APA Statement in Opposition of Converstion Therapy: https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/apa-reiterates-strong-opposition-to-conversion-therapy
ACA Code of Ethics: https://www.counseling.org/resources/aca-code-of-ethics.pdf
Ethical Issues Related to Converstion Therapy or Reparative Therapy by the ACA Ethics Committee: https://www.counseling.org/news/updates/by-year/2013/2013/01/16/ethical-issues-related-to-conversion-or-reparative-therapy
ACA, 2018, Dr. Gerard Lawson's testimony: https://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/government-affairs/testimony-of-gerard-lawson-final.pdf?sfvrsn=fbd7532c_2