What is Conversion Therapy?

Conversion Therapy refers to various methods to 'cure' or change a person's sexual orientation and/or sexual identity including:

  • Reparative therapy
  • "Ex-gay" programs or counseling
  • Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE)
  • Religious counseling
  • Religious exorcism 
  • Aversion therapy 
  • Male or female affirmation programs
  • Self-help books or programs

Conversion Therapy is targeted at persons who have a homosexual or bisexual sexual orientation, have non-heterosexual attractions, are transgender, or do not conform to gender stereotypes.  

Conversion Therapy includes many methods often in combination:

  • One-on-one counseling by licensed professionals or unlicensed laymen
  • Group counseling and accountability groups
  • Seminars and weekend retreats
  • Inpatient and outpatient treatment programs
  • Self-help books and online programs and curriculum
  • Psychotherapy performed by licensed therapists, unlicensed laymen, or self-directed
  • Recovering repressed childhood memories
  • Identifying the root causes ranging from bad parenting, childhood trauma or abuse, delayed development, etc.
  • Religious counseling, laying of hands, exorcism, prayer, meditation, etc.
  • Sexual celibacy including abstinence from masturbation and restricted thought life
  • Aversion therapy including electroshock or other negative stimulus
  • Exposure to heterosexual pornography
  • Enforced gender role stereotypes including marital roles (e.g. leading husband, submissive wife) and masculine or feminine professions, clothing, speech, mannerisms, etc.
  • Submitting to a same-gender heterosexual role model or mentor

Although none of the major health or science professions endorse treating homosexuality as an illness, Conversion Therapy promoters typically rely on pseudo-scientific sounding theories and often strive to appear science-based.