May 14, 2014

APA's response to "Chatting with a leader of the ‘ex-gay’ movement about converting some to heterosexuality"

APA's Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation Change drew its conclusions carefully

Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th St., NW, #4
Washington, DC 20071

Dear Editor: 

Contrary to the assertions of Christopher Doyle (“Chatting with a leader of the ‘ex-gay’ movement …,” May 13), the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation Change drew its conclusions carefully: The research evidence did not support the use of psychological interventions for sexual orientation change. Further, some evidence indicated that some individuals experienced harm from SOCE, such as depression and anxiety. The task force concluded that any benefits reported by participants in SOCE can be gained through approaches that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather provide support, accurate information and identity exploration.

The task force members were selected based on their expertise in research design, psychotherapy and the study of sexual orientation and identity. Members of the task force have also researched and done clinical work in the issues that surround sexual orientation such as coming out, relationships with family and religious identity. As with all APA committees and task forces, there was no sexual orientation or other “litmus test” for membership.  

APA has consistently expressed the hope that individuals who are distressed by their sexual orientation receive the best possible care. The report concluded that such an approach would include acceptance and support, accurate information about sexual orientation and homosexuality, and a safe place to explore sexual orientation identities. The task force concluded that therapists should not direct clients to one particular outcome, but rather encourage self-determination. APA believes it is crucial to avoid misleading clients as there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be changed through psychotherapy.


Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD
American Psychological Association