CounselorsEmpowerACA Government Affairs Blog

The ACA Government Affairs team strives to keep the counseling community connected with important legislative news, updates, and announcements that affect the profession. Questions? Want to get involved in our advocacy efforts? Email us at 


Jan 25, 2017

More States Considering Bans on Conversion Therapy

New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut are in line to join California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Jersey, and D.C., if their state legislatures approve the pending legislation in each state.

ACA formally opposes sexual orientation change efforts because conversion "therapy" is not congruent with our Code of Ethics—the ethical code for the profession of counseling. The effects of efforts to change sexual orientation have been found to cause damage to individuals. A basic principle across all health professions, including mental health is first – do no harm.  

The definitive document that provides evidence that conversion therapy is both ineffective and harmful is provided by the American Psychological Association. It's a report entitled, "Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation." In this report, APA conducted a systematic review of the available research on sexual orientation change efforts: 83 studies in all. The report concluded that, “efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm.” In fact, the report documented that up to 50 percent of participants in conversion therapy practices reported harmful effects from the attempt to change their sexual orientation.

A final salient point is that the word “therapy” should really not be used at all when talking about sexual orientation change efforts. “Therapy” is a clinical word that refers to a mental health intervention. “Conversion therapy” is not a mental health intervention since it does not address the diagnosis of a mental disorder. 

Residents of the five states with pending legislation (New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut) are encouraged to contact their state legislators to ask them to support these bills.

To find contact information for the legislators who represent you, please visit the Find Officials section on the ACA website here. Let your legislators know if you are a counselor, and tell them that you hope they will support the bill in your state. It is helpful to refer to the bills by number:

Pennsylvania: SB44

New Mexico: SB121

New York: SB 263

Connecticut: HB6695

New Hampshire: HB587

ACA will continue to support these and similar bills around the country.

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