Issued: 04 July 2018

Leading UK psychological, psychotherapeutic and counselling organisations unite against conversion therapy

BABCP are pleased to be a signatory to the latest Memorandum of Understanding (MoU2) against conversion therapy, which has been launched with the backing of all major psychological, psychotherapeutic and counselling organisations in the UK, including the British Psychological Society, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, and the UK Council for Psychotherapy.

It has been supported by Stonewall, NHS England and NHS Scotland. It makes clear that conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation (including asexuality) is unethical, potentially harmful and is not supported by evidence. Conversion therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis. The primary purpose of the MoU2 is the protection of the public through a commitment to ending the practice of ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK.

The MoU2 also intends to ensure that:

  • The public are well informed about the risks of conversion therapy
  • Healthcare professionals and psychological therapists are aware of the ethical issues relating to conversion therapy
  • New and existing psychological therapists are appropriately trained
  • Evidence into conversion therapy is kept under regular review
  • Professionals from across the health, care and psychological professions work together to achieve the above goals.

Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders, although exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses. Anyone accessing therapeutic help should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.

This position is not intended to deny, discourage or exclude those with uncertain feelings around sexuality or gender identity from seeking qualified and appropriate help.

This document supports therapists to provide appropriately informed and ethical practice when working with a client who wishes to explore, experiences conflict with or is in distress regarding, their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Professor Chris Williams, BABCP President said:

"The BABCP are delighted to be a co-signatory of this memorandum of understanding, standing against conversion therapy and for the equal rights of LGBT individuals. BABCP were also very pleased to hear the news on 3 July that the government has listened to the voices of LGBT individuals and the professional therapy bodies and now plans to act to end conversion therapy."

The latest Memorandum of Understanding can be seen here:

Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK [PDF]