The ACLU of California is strongly urging the state agency that regulates mental health counselors to immediately remove the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) from its list of approved organizations from which California counselors can obtain continuing education credits (CEUs). The agency, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (CBBS), requires licensed educational psychologists, marriage and family therapists and licensed clinical social workers to take CEUs in order to renew their licenses.
NARTH espouses reparative therapy and contends that homosexuality is an illness that can be treated and is a reversible choice that individuals make. Its methods have been discredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).
“For over three decades the consensus of the mental health community has been that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore not in need of a cure,” the APA said in 2006. “The APA’s concern about the positions espoused by NARTH and so-called conversion therapy is that they are not supported by the science. There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Our further concern is that positions espoused by NARTH can create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.”
According to a publication issued by the APA and used by principals, educators and school personnel, the potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior because it may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. The publication further says that many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction.
“California schools are in desperate need of well trained counselors who are informed by sites and organizations that are based on science and facts and can carefully and gently guide a student who is LGBT or is questioning,” said James Gilliam, director of the ACLU of Southern California’s Seth Walsh Project, a project committed to stopping bullying in schools. “To allow California’s precious few school counselors to obtain CEUs from NARTH will further harm California schoolchildren. Counselors who receive training from NARTH will not know how to help these students, and, rather will receive training that promotes providing harmful advice to the many California students who are being bullied because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.”