Gay affirmative psychotherapy
Gay affirmative psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy for gay and lesbian clients which encourages them to accept their sexual orientation, and does not attempt to "change" them to heterosexual, or to "eliminate or diminish" same-sex "desires and behaviors". The American Psychological Association (APA) offers guidelines and materials for gay affirmative psychotherapy. Affirmative psychotherapy states that homosexuality or bisexuality is not a mental illness, in accordance with global scientific consensus. In fact, embracing and affirming gay identity can be a key component to recovery from other mental illnesses or substance abuse. Clients whose religious beliefs are interpreted as teaching against homosexual behavior may require some other method of integration of their possibly conflicting religious and sexual selves.
Countering psychiatry over the past hundred years that saw homosexuality to be a mental illness, current guidelines instead encourage psychotherapists to assist patients in overcoming the stigma of homosexuality rather than the sexual orientation. Because some mental health professionals are unfamiliar with the social difficulties of the coming out process, particular to other factors such as age, race, ethnicity, or religious affiliation, they are encouraged by the APA to learn more about how gay, lesbian, and bisexual clients face discrimination in its various forms. Many gays and lesbians are rejected from their own families and form their own familial relationships and support systems that may also be unfamiliar to mental health professionals, who are encouraged to take into account the diversity of extended relationships in lieu of family. For some clients, acting on same-sex attraction may not be a fulfilling solution as it may conflict with their religious beliefs; licensed mental health providers may approach such a situation by neither rejecting nor promoting celibacy.
German government action
In March 2008, the German federal government (CDU/SPD) summarized the professional consensus as indicating that homosexuality is not an illness, and that conversion therapy is dangerous and doesn't help homosexual people. Voluntary changes to sexual orientation are not an option, according to the administration's answer to parliamentary questioning, as these attempts may cause personal harm. The German government also made the point that Gay Affirmative Psychotherapy can help clients.
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- Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation
- Bundestag: Answer of German government