SAMHSA report shows conversion therapy not appropriate for minors, offers methods to support LGBTQ and gender non-conforming children

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is releasing “Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth,” a comprehensive report that provides an in-depth review of research and clinical expertise related to conversion therapy.  This important new resource makes it clear that conversion therapy is not an appropriate therapeutic approach based on the evidence, and explores alternative ways to discuss sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression with young people. 

This report includes the first publication of consensus statements developed by an expert panel held by the American Psychological Association in July 2015.  The expert panel included researchers and practitioners in child and adolescent mental health with a strong background in gender development, gender identity, and sexual orientation in children and adolescents.  Experts with a background in family therapy, ethics, and the psychology of religion also participated. 

Through a collaborative process, this panel found that variations in sexual orientation and gender identity are normal, and that conversion therapies or other efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity are not effective, are harmful, and are not appropriate therapeutic practices.  The report provides an overview of existing efforts to eliminate the practice of conversion therapy.

“When dealing with a sensitive topic such as gender identity or sexual orientation in young people, it is essential that families, educators, caregivers, and providers seek the best available information and advice,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Kana Enomoto.  “SAMHSA’s report provides this information, as well as resources young people, families and others can use to promote healthy development for all youth.”

The information and resources contained within the report include a review of the research in this area, detailed information on supportive therapeutic approaches, areas of opportunity for future research, existing strategies to end the practice of conversion therapy, and targeted guidance for various audiences.

These materials help providers, families, and care-givers support their LGBTQ and gender non-conforming children and adolescents.  They also illuminate practices that may contribute to the health disparities facing LGBTQ youth, which should be avoided.

Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth is available at: http://store.samhsa.gov/product/SMA15-4928

For further information about SAMHSA please visit: www.samhsa.gov.

For more information, contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 240-276-2130.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Last Updated: 10/15/2015