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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10/29/20  4:59 pm
Commenter: Melissa Andersen, LPC

Unconditional Positive Regard

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor working as an Outpatient Therapist with a history in community work with in-home mental health services. I have worked with a very diverse background of people and there has been one common need, acceptance. There is no evidence of any benefit from conversion therapies or any treatment approach to change a persons sexual or gender identity. What we have seen evidence for is the harm created by these therapies and the rejection of a persons identity. It depletes their resiliency through removing social support, reducing self-worth, creating fractured ideas of themselves, and a lack of trust in others, in addition to increasing suicidal ideation. Though individual people maintain the right to hold a belief system, we as professionals have a responsibility to use evidence based practices and do no harm. We should not allow for personal belief systems to affect a clients treatment and we are obligated to be open to their actual needs for acceptance and unconditional positive regard. The attempt to actively change them, violates that. Also, to allow any professional in the mental health field to hold a license and practice conversion therapy, threatens the trust that any of us can hold with people who seek that acceptance. There are many people who experience fear and distrust because of their circumstances, and mental health treatment and services should be a place where they feel safe, not as risk of further harm and estrangement. Thank you for your time and consideration.

CommentID: 87406