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Israel’s Health Ministry warns public about dangers of ‘ex-gay’ therapies

Israel’s Health Ministry warns public about dangers of ‘ex-gay’ therapies

Israel’s Health Ministry has formally adopted the recommendations of its country’s Council of Psychologists and the Israeli Psychological Association against so-called reparative therapies aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation – issuing a public warning against them on Sunday.

‘Therapists using this method create a false impression of scientific recognition of this method, although in practice there is no research evidence of the success of any such method for possible conversion and there is even evidence of possible damage,’ the Health Ministry said in a public statement on the issue.

The Council of Psychologists and the Israeli Psychological Association produced a position paper on the issue at the Health Ministry’s behest which warned that therapists should avoid counseling patients they held moral judgements about their sexual orientations as this was an unprofessional place to start therapy.

‘Conversion therapy creates a predetermined agenda, which is liable to miss the point of psychological treatment as called for by the profession’s ethical guidelines,’ the position paper states.

‘If [a therapist] cannot accept the patient from a non-judgmental, accepting, and empathetic position, he must invalidate himself from dealing with that patient.

The position paper also noted that many people who claim to offer therapies that could change a person’s sexual orientation are not professionally certified and may not have formal qualifications.

‘The impression is that most practitioners of conversion therapy are not members of the recognized mental health professions: psychologists, social workers, or psychiatrists,’ the position paper states.

‘In the absence of a law on psychotherapy, treatment in such a complex and sensitive field by uncertified “therapists” is neither ethically nor professionally acceptable, and the public must be warned.’

The position paper was drafted by the groups in November of 2011 but it was only formally adopted by the ministry this month by Health Minister Yael German.

In signing the new policy German said ‘This is further proof that natural sexual orientation is not something that can or should be changed.’

‘Sexual orientation is part of a person’s identity, and doesn’t need “treatment” or “conversion.”’