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Concept: Sexual orientation change efforts


This study examined sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) by 1,612 individuals who are current or former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Data were obtained through a comprehensive online survey from both quantitative items and open-ended written responses. A minimum of 73% of men and 43% of women in this sample attempted sexual orientation change, usually through multiple methods and across many years (on average). Developmental factors associated with attempts at sexual orientation change included higher levels of early religious orthodoxy (for all) and less supportive families and communities (for men only). Among women, those who identified as lesbian and who reported higher Kinsey attraction scores were more likely to have sought change. Of the 9 different methods surveyed, private and religious change methods (compared with therapist-led or group-based efforts) were the most common, started earlier, exercised for longer periods, and reported to be the most damaging and least effective. When sexual orientation change was identified as a goal, reported effectiveness was lower for almost all of the methods. While some beneficial SOCE outcomes (such as acceptance of same-sex attractions and reduction in depression and anxiety) were reported, the overall results support the conclusion that sexual orientation is highly resistant to explicit attempts at change and that SOCE are overwhelmingly reported to be either ineffective or damaging by participants. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Sexual orientation, All rights reserved, Jesus, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Latter Day Saint movement, Sexual orientation change efforts, Latter Day Saint, National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality


Abstract Therapy meant to change someone’s sexual orientation, or reorientation therapy, is still in practice despite statements from the major mental health organizations of its potential for harm. This qualitative study examined the experiences of thirty-eight individuals, including 31 males and seven females, who have been through reorientation therapy and currently identify as gay or lesbian. The novel approach of this study, in comparison to previous investigations into the topic, was to recruit individuals who were exposed to the process reorientation therapy, but currently identify as gay or lesbian. Participants reported on a total of 113 episodes of reorientation therapy that they had experienced, with a mean of 3 episodes per participant. Responses to questions about reasons for seeking reorientation therapy, perceived short and long term helpfulness and harmfulness of reorientation therapy, and reasons for identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) after reorientation therapy were analyzed using an inductive content analysis strategy (Patton, 2002). Religious beliefs were frequently cited as the reason for seeking reorientation therapy. Frequently endorsed themes that emerged as helpful components of reorientation therapy included connecting with others and feeling accepted. Harmful aspects of reorientation therapy included experiences of shame and negative impacts on mental health. Common reasons for identifying as LGB after the therapy included self-acceptance and coming to believe that sexual orientation change was not possible. The findings of this study were consistent with recommendations by the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (2009), which concluded that helpful aspects of reorientation therapy could be achieved through other affirmative treatment methods while avoiding potential harms that may be associated with reorientation therapy. Limitations of the findings, including a small, self-selected sample, are discussed.

Concepts: LGBT, Psychology, Sexual orientation, American Psychological Association, Homosexuality, Sexual orientation change efforts, Conversion therapy, Homosexuality and psychology


Abstract This study reports the results of a comprehensive online survey of 1,612 current or former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) many of whom engaged in psychotherapy in an effort to cope with (understand, accept, or change) their same-sex attractions. Data obtained from written and quantitative responses showed that therapy was initiated over a very wide age range and continued for many years. However, counseling was largely ineffective; less than 4% reported any modification of core same-sex erotic attraction. Moreover, 42% reported that their change-oriented therapy was “not at all effective,” and 37% found it to be moderately to severely harmful. In contrast, affirming psychotherapeutic strategies were often found to be beneficial in reducing depression, increasing self-esteem, and improving family and other relationships. Our data suggest that the very low likelihood of a modification of sexual orientation and the ambiguous nature of any such change should be important considerations for highly religious sexual minority individuals considering reorientation therapy.

Concepts: Sexual orientation, Christianity, Jesus, Christ, Baptism, New Testament, Sexual orientation change efforts, Latter Day Saint


This article is based on structured interviews of a sample of 15 former participants in sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), who currently identify as gay or lesbian. The primary research question for this study was, “What was the experience of self-identified gay men and lesbians who went through some type of SOCE and eventually asserted themselves as gay or lesbian?” The research concludes that participants sometimes identified as heterosexual during SOCE, but never changed their underlying homosexual orientation, and that suppression, disconnection, and a sense of inauthenticity were significant phenomena of this process.

Concepts: LGBT, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Gay, Heterosexuality, Lesbian, Sexual orientation change efforts