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Dr. Wolff Helps Write Federal Report Calling to End Conversion Therapy 10.15.15
Dr. Wolff Helps Write Federal Report Calling to End Conversion Therapy

Joshua Wolff, Ph.D., is among the writers of the newly released federal report, Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth. Issued by the U.S. Government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it calls for a ban on the discredited practice.

"Conversion therapy can be very harmful to LGBTQ children and adolescents by inducing feelings of shame, rejection, and increased confusion about their identity," says Wolff, a professor of clinical psychology at Adler whose clinical practice and research specializes in pediatric clinical psychology, LGBTQ youth issues and the psychology of religion. "This leads to increased risks of depression, homelessness, and substance abuse."

As of August 2015, the report finds, four states and the District of Columbia have banned conversion therapy for minors. Another 21 states and the U.S Congress have considered or are considering bans.

The report's primary findings include:

  • Same-gender sexual orientation (including identity, behavior, and attraction) and variations in gender identity and gender expression are a part of the normal spectrum of human diversity and do not constitute a mental disorder.
  • There is limited research on conversion therapy efforts among children and adolescents; however, none of the existing research supports the premise that mental or behavioral health interventions can alter gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • Interventions aimed at a fixed outcome, such as gender conformity or heterosexual orientation, including those aimed at changing gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are coercive, can be harmful, and should not be part of behavioral health treatment.
  • Behavioral health providers need better information and training to decrease stigmas and negative attitudes toward LGBTQ people and eliminate harmful practices.

Wolff added, “The SAMHSA report is an important step in educating providers, families and the public at large about alternatives to conversion therapy, and provides a substantial resource list for states and other government entities that wish to ban conversion therapy to protect children.”

Dr. Wolff served on The Expert Consensus Panel, convened by the American Psychological Association to guide the creation of this report. The panel comprised 13 professionals, including researchers and practitioners in child and adolescent mental health with strong backgrounds in gender development, gender identity, and sexual orientation, as well as experts with a background in family therapy and the psychology of religion.

About Adler University

Adler University educates students to engage the world and create a more just society. Established in 1952, it enrolls more than 1,400 students in master’s and doctoral programs for social change through its campuses in downtown Chicago and Vancouver, as well as an Online Campus. Adler University’s mission is to continue the pioneering work of Alfred Adler, the first community psychologist, by graduating socially responsible practitioners, engaging communities and advancing social justice.