Experiences of Ex-Ex-Gay Individuals in Sexual Reorientation Therapy: Reasons for Seeking Treatment, Perceived Helpfulness and Harmfulness of Treatment, and Post-Treatment Identification

Annesa Flentje, Nicholas C. Heck, Bryan N. Cochran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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 used an inductive content analysis strategy (Patton, 2002) to examine the experiences of thirty-eight individuals (31 males and seven females) who have been through a total of 113 episodes of reorientation therapy and currently identify as gay or lesbian. Religious beliefs were frequently cited as the reason for seeking reorientation therapy. Frequently endorsed themes of 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 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1242-1268
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Volume61
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Keywords

  • LGBT
  • conversion therapy
  • reorientation therapy
  • reparative therapy

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