Psychotherapy, counselling and medical organisations speak out against gay ‘conversion’ therapy

14 signatory organisations, led by the UK Council for Psychotherapy and including the British Psychoanalytic Council, have today launched a Memorandum of Understanding against gay conversion therapy at the Department of Health. 

The Memorandum, which also has the support of NHS England, sets out an agreed framework for actions by the signatory organisations to address the issues raised by the practice of conversion therapy in the UK.

Gay conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, is the term of a type of talking therapy which attempts to change sexual orientation or reduce attraction to others of the same sex.  It has no evidence to support it and it can potentially harm people.

Julian Lousada, Chair of the BPC, said:

“I am pleased to see NHS England, the Royal Colleges and professional bodies unite against Conversion therapy.

“Conversion therapy is emphatically antithetical to psychotherapy, which helps people to explore challenges and issues in a thoughtful, open-minded and sensitive manner, and with no preconceived aims or prejudices.  Patients may benefit from exploring their sexuality with a therapist, but this would be within the context of helping each individual patient come to live a fuller and happier life.  The public should be wary of any ‘therapist’ who tries to foister a particulat sexual orientation upon a client.”

Gary Fereday, CEO of the BPC, said:

“Psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy aim to liberate people so they can focus on the present and live richer, fuller and more satisfying lives. Forcing a particular view or prejudice on a patient is not only unethical and potentially damaging, but also has no place in the practice of psychotherapy.  All competent therapists will implicitly understand and appreciate this.

“This Memorandum of Understanding sends a clear and united message to those who would wish to practice Conversion Therapy: you have no place in the modern psychotherapy profession”.

Juliet Newbiggin, a BPC-registered clinician who leads on issues around sexual orientation for the BPC, said:

“Feelings of sexual attraction to members of one’s own sex are not to be treated as a symptom of psychological disorder, no matter how unwelcome they are to the individual concerned.

“A person who finds themselves troubled by such feelings is in a vulnerable and confused state and it is vital that such an individual does not fall into the hands of a therapist who has a belief in a pre-conceived outcome – namely a “healthy conversion to heterosexuality.

“Not only is this treatment unethical; it is also likely to increase the suffering of the person seeking help.”

Wednesday, 14 January, 2015 - 15:31