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Mental Health Professionals Petition for Rules Against Bogus Sexual Orientation Change “Therapies”

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From Equality Texas:

20131112narth_protest02AUSTIN (October 31, 2014) – Mental health professionals representing the five major disciplines filed rulemaking petitions today calling on their state licensing boards to clearly outlaw efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation as violations of the standards of care applicable to their professions and a dangerous fraud on the public.

“More than 40 years ago, the American Psychiatric Association removed same-sex orientation from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—after two decades of research demonstrated that there is and never has been any scientific basis for such a classification,” said Chuck Smith, Executive Director of Equality Texas. “But, some ideologues are still trying to sell so-called ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy. It’s time for the state licensing agencies for mental health professionals to go on record against these fraudulent and often dangerous techniques.”

Since the American Psychiatric Association’s action in 1973, the American Psychological Association, National Association of Social Workers, American Counseling Association, the Pan American Health Organization and others have enacted positions in strong opposition to so-called “reparative” or “conversion” therapy. Research has shown that such “treatments” not only lack any evidentiary basis, the practice of those methods can actually inflict harm on people.

The petitions were filed with the Texas Medical Board, the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, the Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors and the State Board of Social Work Examiners. Each agency establishes and enforces the basic rules applicable to its licensees that protect consumers against professional negligence (known as the “standard of care”), as well as rules prohibiting fraud by licensed mental health professionals.

“These petitions simply ask each licensing board to enforce the existing laws. Attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation under the guise of professionally administered ‘therapy’ violates the standard of care of each of these professions. Hiding behind a license to bill someone for these so-called services is little more than theft,” Smith said.

The petitions recognize that “Human sexuality is sometimes accompanied by difficulty in an individual’s development, acceptance, self-image, behavior, coping and relationships with others, regardless of the person’s sexual orientation.” So, the new rules would not interfere with appropriate treatments and services that address these kinds of issues, which can be experienced by anyone. The proposals would not prohibit appropriate medical efforts to address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices. Nor would the proposals affect counseling provided by clergy as long as it was not provided under the auspices of one of the professional licenses that are subject to the petitions.

The petitioners are Dr. Bert E. Johansson, M.D. (a physician), H. Michael Cunningham, Ph.D. (a psychologist), Katy Koonce, LCSW (a licensed clinical social worker), Jeff Lutes, MS, LPC (a licensed professional counselor) and Marsha McDonough, Ph.D. LMFT (a licensed marriage and family therapist).

Under the Texas Administrative Procedures Act, each agency must determine within 60 days whether to go forward with the rulemaking called for in the petitions. If an agency goes forward, proposed rules would be published in the Texas Register. State law requires a public comment period of at least 30 days once any proposed rule is published. After the comment period, an agency can finally adopt the rule, with any changes if deems necessary or advisable based on the comments, or it can decline to finally adopt the proposal.

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