Richard A. Cohen

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Richard A. Cohen
Richard Cohen TTT book cover photo.jpg
Born (1952-10-15) October 15, 1952 (age 70)
Alma materBoston University
Antioch University
SpouseJae Sook Cohen (m. 1980)

Richard A. Cohen (born 1952) is an American psychotherapist and author associated with the ex-gay movement. He is a co-founder of Positive Approaches to Healthy Sexuality (PATH), and the past director of the defunct (since 2015) International Healing Foundation.

Early life[edit]

Cohen was born into a Jewish family in Philadelphia. While attending Boston University, he became an evangelical Christian, and later joined the Unification Church. Cohen received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Boston University and a Master of Arts degree in counseling psychology from Antioch University.[1]

In 1980, Cohen married Jae Sook, a South Korean woman, and in 1995, Cohen and his family left the Unification Church.[1][2]

Richard and Jae Sook Cohen

During adolescence, Cohen reportedly spent "years in intensive psychiatric treatment unsuccessfully trying to become straight". Cohen identified as gay during his undergraduate years at Boston University. He sought counseling for his unwanted same-sex attractions. He says he has been heterosexual since 1987, to which he credits resolution of underlying issues.[1]


Cohen became publicly involved in the ex-gay movement in 1990, when he founded the International Healing Foundation (IHF), a nonprofit organization, to counsel those who experience unwanted same-sex attraction. IHF was dissolved in 2015.[3] In 2003, Cohen co-founded Positive Approaches to Healthy Sexuality (PATH), which promotes "the individual's right of self-determination, and equality, tolerance and diversity for all views of sexuality and gender identity."[4] Cohen has said, "If someone wants to live a gay life, that needs to be respected. If someone wants to resolve unwanted same-sex attraction, that too needs to be respected."[5]

Expulsion from the ACA and critical response[edit]

Cohen maintains that gender orientation is a "human rights issue," and that the choice to either identify or seek change is an individual one, a position that has generated controversy. In 2002, Cohen was expelled from the American Counseling Association (ACA).[1][6] Opponents claimed that Cohen practiced a form of "conversion therapy," which has been associated with coercion and labelled unethical.[7] Cohen and PATH have publicly rejected conversion therapy, while insisting that "change is possible" and advocating for "equality, tolerance and diversity for all views of sexuality and gender identity."[4]

Noting that the ACA is a non-licensing trade organization,[8] and that his expulsion was based upon a single complaint,[1] Cohen did not appeal the ACA decision. He said that the action was based on his efforts in the ex-gay movement, specifically for the book Coming Out Straight. He called the ACA "a biased organization,"[9] and asked, "Why would I want to be in a totally gay-affirming club?"[1]

In 2017, the ACA codified in writing a governing council motion that stated "promoting, conducting, engaging in, or referring for reparative therapy, conversion therapy, or sexual orientation change efforts is a significant and serious violation of the ACA's code of ethics."[10]

Media appearances[edit]

Cohen was on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on June 28, 2006,[11] and was a guest on The Rachel Maddow Show on December 8, 2009.[12] Cohen was interviewed by Jason Jones on the March 19, 2007, episode of The Daily Show,[13] and was on The Michelangelo Signorile Show on the Sirius radio network on April 17, 2010. Cohen has also appeared on Larry King Live,[14][15] The O'Reilly Factor,[16] and The Edge with Paula Zahn,[17][18] as well as interviews on CNN[19] and ABC News in Washington D.C.[20]

Coverage by other figures[edit]

Cohen was a major figure in Wayne Besen's book Anything but Straight, which documents Cohen's life, his early affairs with men, and his later involvement in the ex-gay movement.[21]

Select bibliography[edit]

Cohen has several books published or re-published under his own PATH Press:

  • — (1993). Alfie's Home. Illustrated by Elizabeth Sherman. Bowie, MD: International Healing Foundation. ISBN 978-0-9637058-0-8. OCLC 30446213.
  • — (1995). Healing Homosexuality. Bowie, MD: International Healing Foundation Press. OCLC 37266263.
  • — (2006). Coming Out Straight: Understanding Same-Sex Attraction. Winchester, VA: Oakhill Press. ISBN 978-1533598578. OCLC 64387864.
  • — (2010). Straight Talk About Homosexuality. Bowie, MD: International Healing Foundation Press. ISBN 978-0963705891. OCLC 723164903.
  • — (2016). Gay Children, Straight Parents: A Plan for Family Healing. Bowie, MD: International Healing Foundation Press. ISBN 9780963705860. OCLC 994295167.
  • — (2020). Being Gay: Nature, Nurture or Both?. Bowie, MD: PATH Press. ISBN 978-1733846929.
  • — (2022). Understanding Our LGBTQ+ Loved Ones. Bowie, MD: PATH Press. ISBN 978-1733846929.
  • — (2022). Rich's Home. Bowie, MD: PATH Press. ISBN 979-8987026007.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Boodman, Sandra G. (2005-08-16). "A Conversion Therapist's Unusual Odyssey". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  2. ^ "Richard Cohen". GLAAD. 2014-07-28. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  3. ^ "Director". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  4. ^ a b "What We Believe". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  5. ^ "International Healing Foundation Apologizes to the LGBTQ Community on its 21st Anniversary" (Press release). International Healing Foundation. PR Newswire. Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  6. ^ "Notification of Results Letter". Archived from the original on January 3, 2007. Retrieved January 3, 2007., American Counseling Association. Retrieved 04-07-2007.
  7. ^ Rivera, David P.; Pardo, Seth T. (2022). "Gender Identity Change Efforts: A Summary". In Haldeman, Douglas C. (ed.). The Case Against Conversion "Therapy": Evidence, Ethics, and Alternatives. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. pp. 20–22, 47–50. doi:10.1037/0000266-000. ISBN 978-1-4338-3711-1. OCLC 1255522636. S2CID 243792646.
  8. ^ "About the American Counseling Association". American Counseling Association.
  9. ^ Najafi, Yusef (2005-03-04). "Activist calls ex-gay leader "dishonest". Besen criticizes PFOX president for not disclosing past". Washington Blade. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
  10. ^ "Governing Council Motion: Resolution on Reparative Therapy/Conversion Therapy/Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) as a Significant and Serious Violation of the ACA Code of Ethics" (PDF). American Counseling Association. 19 December 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 April 2022.
  11. ^ "Episode #4.279". IMDb.
  12. ^ NBC News Rachel Maddow: Debunking a 'cure' for homosexuality
  13. ^ "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah".
  14. ^ Larry King Live Part 1 (February 21, 2009). "IHF2008". Retrieved December 14, 2020 – via YouTube.
  15. ^ Larry King Live Part 2 (December 10, 2008). "IHF2008". Retrieved December 14, 2020 – via YouTube.
  16. ^ "IHF2008". The O'Reilly Factor. February 22, 2009. Retrieved December 14, 2020 – via YouTube.
  17. ^ Paula Zahn Part 1 (February 22, 2009). "IHF2008". Retrieved December 14, 2020 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ Paula Zahn Part 2 (February 22, 2009). "IHF2008". Retrieved December 14, 2020 – via YouTube.
  19. ^ "IHF2008". CNN. April 7, 2010. Retrieved December 14, 2020 – via YouTube.
  20. ^ "IHF2008". ABC News. February 22, 2009. Retrieved December 14, 2020 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ Besen, Wayne R. (2003). Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-gay Myth. Taylor and Francis. p. 164. ISBN 978-1-56023-445-6. OCLC 50583456.

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