‘Reparative Therapy’, ‘Conversion Therapy’, ‘Ex-Gay Therapy’... Different names for what is essentially the same thing: treatment of a person that claims to be able to change sexual orientation.

There have been no studies of adequate scientific rigor to show that these approaches work or are in any way effective. In fact the most reputable American medical and scientific organizations have expressed concern over counseling and psychological practices like conversion therapy and reparative therapy and consider them potentially harmful.

The American Psychiatric Association opposes any treatment which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that a person should change their orientation. They recommend that ethical practitioners do not attempt to change their clients' sexual orientation.

The American Counseling Association does not offer or condone training programs for conversion therapy. They suggest counselors refrain from referring clients to a conversion therapist.

The American Psychological Association regards homosexuality as ‘a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation’ and is opposed to forcing anyone from trying to change their sexual orientation against their will, including parents forcing their children to change.

And the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy does not support treatment or intervention for same sex orientation because they do not regard it as a mental disorder.

So what is the role for counselors when people are having difficulties associated with sexuality?

Gay counseling can be effective when we are developing our sense of ourselves, changing our relationships with others and when we want to feel better about who we are. So instead of repairing something that is not faulty (our sexuality), counseling can effectively help us to construct our identity and relationships in ways that are in harmony with our sexuality.

There are many counselors in the United States who are affirming of gay sexuality and support bisexual people, transgender people, lesbians and gay men to be themselves. Take a look at the Gay Counseling in the USA page for more information or to find a gay counselor.