Christian counselors condemn conversion therapy: ‘unethical and potentially harmful’

Leading psychological organizations in the UK have co-signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ condemning ‘conversion therapy.’

This umbrella term covers any attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through therapeutic means.

Alongside major organizations such as NHS England, the chair of the Association of Christian Counsellors, Anthony Ruddle has also added his signature.

In the memorandum, the agencies concerned say that ‘the practice of conversion therapy, whether in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity, is unethical and potentially harmful.

‘Signatory organisations agree that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity in themselves are indicators of a mental disorder.’

It goes on to say that the public needs to be aware of the risk of conversion therapy, and healthcare professionals are made more aware of the ethical issues relating to conversion therapy.

‘Free from any agenda that favours one gender identity or sexual orientation’

It says that its position does not stop therapists from working with clients expressing unhappiness with their sexual orientation or gender identity, but such work must adhere to ethical practices.

‘This position is not intended to deny, discourage or exclude those with uncertain feelings around sexuality or gender identity from seeking qualified and appropriate help.

‘This document supports therapists to provide appropriately informed and ethical practice when working with a client who wishes to explore, experiences conflict with or is in distress regarding, their sexual orientation or gender identity.’

It states, ‘Ethical practice in these cases requires the practitioner to have adequate knowledge and understanding of gender and sexual diversity and to be free from any agenda that favours one gender identity or sexual orientation as preferable over other gender and sexual diversities.’

The memorandum has been signed by: the UK Council of Psychotherapy; British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP); British Psychoanalytic Council; GLADD (Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists); National Counselling Society; Pink Therapy; College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists; the British Psychological Society; BABCP (British Association of Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies); the Royal College of General Practitioners; NHS England and NHS Scotland; and the Association of Christian Counsellors.

Legal status

Although most reputable psychotherapy organizations have previously condemned the practice of conversion therapy, it’s believed some private therapists still offer it.

Although ‘conversion therapy’ for minors has been barred in nine states in the US (and District of Columbia), Malta is so far the only country in Europe to make the practice illegal.

Earlier this year, UK Prime Minister Theresa May rejected calls to make gay cure therapy illegal. Instead, she said the Government was committed to working with the leading mental healthcare agencies in developing today’s memorandum.

Leading LGBT rights charity Stonewall is among those to welcome the memorandum.

Ruth Hunt, its Chief Executive, said: ‘Trans identities are not something to be “cured” or changed … Trans people seeking support need to be accepted for who they are, not subjected to prejudice and harmful practice.’

Nicola Gale, President of the British Psychological Society, said: ‘I am pleased to sign this memorandum of understanding on behalf of the British Psychological Society.

‘Our Society exists to make things better for people, and champions equality, diversity and inclusion in everything we do.

‘It is core to public protection that the public are made aware of the risk of “conversion therapies” and that these therapies are unethical and unsupported by psychological evidence.’

GSN has approached the Association of Christian Counsellors for comment.

See also

Need support? LGBTI helplines for those in crisis or seeking advice

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