Lately there was a lot of talk about conversion (reparative) therapy. This is why I felt the need to explain what conversion / reparative therapy is.
Reparative therapy (or conversion therapy) is a term used to refer to any of a number of practices which claim to produce a fundamental change in an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices vary greatly and typically consider homosexuality a disease or disorder that can, and should, be cured.
The techniques that reparative therapists use are quite varied, and might include the following:
Aversion therapy: Therapists show their clients some images or videos that trigger arousal, such as gay porn, then make them vomit. This is because vomiting is believed to create an aversion to one’s “gay thoughts” and “gay feelings”.
Hugging: Some believe that men turn out to be gay as they were not loved enough by their father, hence the male therapist would hug their client in order to help the client feel loved by a “father figure”.
Electric shocks to the genitals and sniffing excrement: Reparative therapy used to consist of electric shocks to the genitals and sniffing a bottle of excrement when the client got “gay feelings”.
Gender reinforcement: This is a slightly more "mainstream" form of reparative therapy, wherein gay men and women are forced to enact stereotypical gender roles. So lesbians will be discouraged from sports and similar activities, and instead be taught to sew, do makeup, hold babies and do other girly things. Gay men will be taught to act "macho" and do macho things, such as playing sports or building things.
Going through this list it comes to no surprise that a lot of research found that this kind of therapy is unsuccessful. The problem with this form of therapy is the notion that sexual orientation is a choice or acquired behaviour, and hence can be changed or controlled. This runs contrary to the official positions of most of the world's governing bodies in the fields of psychiatry and psychology. The American Psychiatric Association in 2000 published a statement explaining that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore can’t be treated. Nine years later, the American Psychological Association, followed suit. Throughout the following years medical, scientific, and government organizations in the United States and Britain have expressed concern over conversion therapy and consider it potentially harmful.
Psychological ethics mandate that mental health professionals subscribe to methods that support human dignity and are effective in their stated purpose. Conversion therapy qualifies as neither. It reinforces the social stigma associated with homosexuality, and there is no evidence from any of the studies that sexual orientation can be changed.