Texas mental health professionals call for end to conversion therapy

Five Texas mental health professionals filed rule-making petitions on October 31 calling on state licensing boards to outlaw conversion therapy which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation.

The petitions were filed by Dr. Bert E. Johansson, M.D. (a physician), H. Michael Cunningham, Ph.D. (a psychologist), Katy Koonce, LCSW (a licensed clinical social worker), Jeff Lutes, MS, LPC (a licensed professional counselor) and Marsha McDonough, Ph.D. LMFT (a licensed marriage and family therapist)

According to a press release from Equality Texas, the petitions were sent to the Texas Medical Board, the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, the Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors and the State Board of Social Work Examiners.

Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.

“More than 40 years ago, the American Psychiatric Association removed same-sex orientation from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–after two decades of research demonstrated that there is and never has been any scientific basis for such a classification,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas.

“But, some ideologues are still trying to sell so-called ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy,” says Smith. “It’s time for the state licensing agencies for mental health professionals to go on record against these fraudulent and often dangerous techniques.”

As explained in the Equality Texas press release, “Under the Texas Administrative Procedures Act, each agency must determine within 60 days whether to go forward with the rule making called for in the petitions. If an agency goes forward, proposed rules would be published in the Texas Register. State law requires a public comment period of at least 30 days once any proposed rule is published.  After the comment period, an agency can finally adopt the rule, with any changes if deems necessary or advisable based on the comments, or it can decline to finally adopt the proposal.”

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