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 27, 2017

EVEN MORE States Considering Bans on Conversion Therapy

Since our last post, bills prohibiting conversion therapy have been filed in two more state legislatures: Idaho and Hawaii. Five states and the District of Columbia already have laws prohibiting conversion therapy.

Idaho, Hawaii, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut are now 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.

Residents of the seven states with pending legislation (Idaho, Hawaii, 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:

Idaho: HB62

Hawaii: SCR39

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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  1. 2 Irene Komor 30 Jan
    Sexual orientation is largely biological and while it can be hidden or repressed, one cannot change because of a therapeutic intervention. Thanks for standing up for all people!
  2. 1 Pennie J. McKay 31 Jan
    Concerning HB62. More than 25 years of professional service as a Licensed counselor have made me very aware that Conversation Therapy is unethical and harmful. It causes harm to the mental wellbeing of clients and those around them. It increases the danger of suicide and becoming a victim of hate crimes. I am very happy this issue is coming before the leaders and representatives of Idaho. Please support this bill to protect citizens from the harm caused when conversion therapy is used in an attempt to change the sexual orientation of clients.


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