Psychotherapists’ body warns against gay conversion therapy
3 October 2012
The UK’s largest body for counsellors and psychotherapists has told its members to stop offering therapy to “convert” gay people into straight people.
The British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) wrote to its near 30,000 members to inform them that so-called gay conversion therapy was now officially off-limits to them, after discovering that some members were still offering the controversial ‘treatments’.
Lesley Pilkington was one such member. Last year, the BACP found her guilty of malpractice after being exposed by an undercover journalist to be offering “gay cure” therapies. Mrs Pilkington told the journalist that homosexuality is a mental illness akin to depression, with addictive qualities akin to alcoholism. Mrs Pilkington was struck off, and her appeal was rejected in May of this year.
The letter from the BACP states that “BACP opposes any psychological treatment such as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder, or based on the premise that the client/patient should change his/her sexuality.” In the letter, the BACP adds that they recognise that “the diversity of human sexualities is compatible with normal mental health and social adjustment”.
BACP spokesman Phil Hudson said that he had been surprised that the BACP’s existing guidelines on equality and acting in the client’s best interest had not been sufficient to prevent members offering these gay conversion therapies. "To me, as a therapist, it seemed inconceivable that someone who had been trained and made accountable could act in that way.” He added that he thought the therapies were only offered in “wackier parts of America”.
There is evidence of a backlash against the therapies in the US too – earlier this week, the Governor of California signed into law a ban on offering gay cure therapies to anyone under 18.