Position on Reparative or Conversion Therapy

The Mormon Mental Health Association (MMHA) takes the same position as every major psychological association on same-sex orientation: it is not a mental disorder. Therefore, sexual orientation in itself does not require treatment or intervention.

In fact, the MMHA takes a position against any therapy modalities which have been developed to change, alter or reduce sexual orientation – usually referred to as Reparative or Conversion Therapy. Clinicians who sign the “Code of Ethics” of MMHA already agree not to engage in such practices. Oregon, California, New Jersey, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. prohibit the practice of conversion therapy, and just recently (June 2015), a New Jersey court ruled that this practice violated the Consumer Fraud Protection Act.

These therapy modalities tend to mostly take place within religious or conservative populations and communities. Therefore, we are concerned for the Mormon public, church leadership, parents and fellow clinicians as we strive to honor our shared faith and values while remaining educated and providing adequate and helpful services. In this spirit we share the following:

  1. Through a systematic review of research, reparative/conversion therapy has not been shown to be successful in changing sexual orientation.
  2. Clinical studies have shown negative outcomes of reparative/conversion therapies to include, but not limited to: increased rates of clinical depression, suicide, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty sustaining relationships and sexual dysfunction.
  3. We warn that some treatment modalities have included unethical and inappropriate rituals.

Due to the harmful nature of reparative/conversion therapy, the MMHA calls upon parents to not seek these services for their children, on leaders* to not refer to such services, and on therapists to not engage in this practice or associate with clinics who promote it. It also encourages government officials at any local, state, national, or international level to ban its use.

*Referring congregants to conversion/reparative therapy or anything similar to it, would be a referral that is considered inconsistent with the LDS church handbook of instruction which states: “Local leaders should advise members . . . to consult with competent professional practitioners who are licensed in the countries where they practice” and should not use services “that are ethically or legally questionable”.

August 23, 2015

SAMHSA: Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth

For more information, visit our resources page.