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
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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