APA Statement in Response to Media Articles Regarding Alleged Changes in
Sexual Orientation Reported at APA Annual Meeting
Contact: American Psychiatric Association, 202-682-6000
(After 12 p.m. CST May 10)
Annual Meeting Press Office - New Orleans, 504-670-5008
(Until 12 p.m. CST May 10)
NEW ORLEANS, May 9 /U.S. Newswire/ -- "The American Psychiatric
Association maintains that there is no published scientific evidence
supporting the efficacy of reparative therapy as a treatment to change one's
sexual orientation," said APA Medical Director Steven Mirin, M.D.
Mirin's comment was in response to media stories stemming from an APA
Annual Meeting presentation May 9, which asserted that some highly motivated
individuals may be able to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to
heterosexual. Mirin cited position statements on this issue adopted by the
APA Board of Trustees in December 1998, and May 2000.
APA does not endorse Annual Meeting presentations, nor do the
presentations necessarily reflect APA policy. As is the case for many
scientific meetings, many papers presented at APA Annual Meetings have not
been subject to traditional peer review, nor have they been published in the
The following points addressing the issue of changing sexual
orientation are drawn from the APA position statements, and may be attributed
• The American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric
treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy, which is based on the
assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon an
assumption that the patient should change his or her homosexual orientation.
• The potential risks of reparative therapy are great (including
depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior) since therapist alignment
with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred
already experienced by the patient.
• There are no scientifically rigorous outcome studies conducted to
determine either the actual efficacy or harm of "reparative" treatments.
There is sparse scientific data about selection criteria, risks versus
benefits of the treatment, and long-term outcomes of "reparative" therapies.
The literature consists of anecdotal reports of individuals who have claimed
to change, people who claim that attempts to change were harmful to them, and
others who claimed to have changed and then later recanted those claims.
The full APA Position Statement on therapies focused on attempts to
change sexual orientation may be found on the APA Web site