May 21, 2007

APA Appoints Task Force to Review Recent Science on Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation

WASHINGTON—The American Psychological Association has appointed a Task Force of researchers and clinicians to review the current scientific research on therapeutic response to sexual orientation with an eye toward updating the Association's 1997 policy statement on the topic.

"I am pleased to announce the initiation of this Task Force. Its work will be of significant value as it will help inform all mental health practitioners about appropriate and effective therapeutic responses to sexual orientation. I look forward to the group's report," said APA President Dr. Sharon Stephens Brehm.

Task Force members were selected after an open nominations process. All nominations were reviewed by the APA Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns (CLGBTC) which forwarded the complete list of nominations and a suggested slate of nominees to the APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (BAPPI) for review. The CLGBTC and BAPPI recommendations as well as the full list of nominations were then sent to the APA President who made the final appointments to the task force in consultation with the APA Board of Directors.

The members of the Task Force, as announced today, are:

Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD -- Dr. Glassgold is a clinician, researcher and visiting faculty at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers University. She sits on the editorial boards of Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy and PsycCritiques. Much of her work focuses on ethical issues in psychotherapy including the interplay of psychology and religion. Dr. Glassgold will serve as the Task Force Chairperson.

Lee Beckstead, PhD -- Dr. Beckstead is a counseling psychologist who has focused his research and clinical work on helping gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people with strong religious affiliations. He works full-time in private practice and is a staff associate in the University of Utah's Counseling Center.

Jack Drescher, MD -- Dr. Drescher is a psychiatrist in clinical practice. His academic appointments include that of Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor in the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at New York Medical College. He also serves as the editor of the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy.

Beverly Greene, PhD -- Dr. Greene is a Professor of Psychology at St. John's University and a practicing clinical psychologist. She has published extensively in the psychological literature on multi-minority identities and the interplay between multiple identity status, coping with social marginalization and psychotherapy. She was a founding co-editor of the APA Division 44 series Psychological Perspectives on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Issues.

Robin Lin Miller, PhD -- Dr. Miller is a community psychologist and an associate professor at Michigan State University. She is currently the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Evaluation. She was appointed to the Task Force to provide specific expertise in research and evaluation methods.

Roger L. Worthington, PhD - Dr. Worthington is the interim Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Missouri-Columbia and an Associate Professor in the university's Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology. Dr. Worthington is on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and on the editorial board of the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. His research interests include multicultural counseling, heterosexual identity, sexual prejudice, and lesbian, gay and bisexual issues.

The task force will review the scientific literature on therapeutic responses to sexual orientation, particularly any research published since the Association's resolution on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation was passed (1997). The Task Force will furthermore make recommendations on any revisions or updates to the resolution. Since the 1997 resolution was written, new research on sexual orientation conversion therapy has been published. This new science enables the Association to review its policy position and offer additional guidance to mental health professionals who treat persons with concerns about their sexual orientation.

The task force is expected to generate a report that will address the following:

  1. The appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for children and adolescents who present a desire to change either their sexual orientation or their behavioral expression of their sexual orientation, or both, or whose guardian expresses a desire for the minor to change;
  2. The appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for adults who present a desire to change their sexual orientation or their behavioral expression of their sexual orientation, or both;
  3. The presence of adolescent inpatient facilities that offer coercive treatment designed to change sexual orientation or the behavioral expression of sexual orientation;
  4. Education, training, and research issues as they pertain to such therapeutic interventions; and
  5. Recommendations regarding treatment protocols that promote stereotyped gender-normative behavior to mitigate behaviors that are perceived to be indicators that a child will develop a homosexual orientation in adolescence and adulthood.

Once completed, the report and any recommendations of the Task Force will be reviewed by APA governance including the APA Board of Directors and Council of Representatives. Any actions concerning possible adoption of the Task Force report and any included recommendations will be the purview of the APA Council.

The Task Force is expected to meet twice in 2007. A schedule for completion of the Task Force's work is not yet determined.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.