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Richard A. Cohen

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Richard A. Cohen
Born1952 (age 71–72)
Alma materBoston University
Antioch University
SpouseJae Sook Cohen (1980–present)

Richard A. Cohen (born 1952) is a Christian psychotherapist and author associated with the ex-gay movement. He is a co-founder of Positive Approaches to Healthy Sexuality (previously Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality)[1] which offers discredited conversion therapy practices purporting to change a person from homosexual to heterosexual.[2][3][4] In 2002, Cohen was expelled from the American Counseling Association for multiple violations.[5][6]

He is author of Alfie's Home, a children's book which depicts homosexuality as a reversible condition.[7] He gained media attention after demonstrating his ex-gay touch therapy on The Daily Show, which included cuddling with men and beating a pillow.[8][9]


Cohen was born into a Jewish family in Philadelphia. During adolescence, Cohen reportedly spent "years in intensive psychiatric treatment unsuccessfully trying to become straight".[2]

Cohen identified as gay during his undergraduate years at Boston University. He sought counseling for his unwanted same-sex attractions. He became an evangelical Christian, and later joined the Unification Church.[2]

In 1980, Cohen married Jae Sook, a South Korean woman, and in 1995, Cohen and his family left the Unification Church.[2][9] Cohen had affairs with men, often leaving his wife and children for long periods of time.[4]

According to The Washington Post, Cohen he "overcame homosexuality" in 1987 through an "intense but platonic relationship" with a straight man who "gave me the warmth of my daddy's love."[2]

Cohen received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Boston University and a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from Antioch University.[2]

He is author of Alfie's Home, a children's book which depicts homosexuality as a reversible condition.[7] He served as the president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), a group which promoted reparative therapy.[6]

Expulsion from the ACA[edit]

In 2002, Cohen was expelled from the American Counseling Association (ACA) for violating its policies on advertising, engaging in dual relationships involving clients and counselors, and compromising client welfare.[5][6] He did not appeal the ACA decision.[2]

Media appearances[edit]

Cohen was interviewed by Jason Jones on the March 19, 2007, episode of The Daily Show.[10] He gained media attention for demonstrating cuddling with men and hitting pillows as a method for curing homosexuality.[10][8] After the appearance, PFOX scrubbed mention of Cohen's name from its website.[6]

Cohen was on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on June 28, 2006, was interviewed on The Rachel Maddow Show on December 8, 2009,[11] and was on The Michelangelo Signorile Show on the Sirius radio network on April 17, 2010.


  1. ^ "PATH". March 2, 2015. Archived from the original on March 2, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Boodman, Sandra G. (August 16, 2005). "A Conversion Therapist's Unusual Odyssey". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  3. ^ "Richard Cohen's Cynical Makeover". Falls Church News-Press. April 17, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Besen, Wayne R. (2003). Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-gay Myth. Psychology Press. pp. 164–167. ISBN 978-1-56023-446-3.
  5. ^ a b "Notification of Results Letter". Archived from the original on January 3, 2007. Retrieved January 3, 2007., American Counseling Association. Retrieved July 4, 2007.
  6. ^ a b c d Potok, Mark (2016). "Quacks: 'Conversion Therapists,' the Anti-LGBT Right, and the Demonization of Homosexuality" (PDF). Southern Poverty Law Center. pp. 40–41.
  7. ^ a b Blue, Miranda (February 1, 2013). "Will the Supreme Court read the most horrific children's book of all time?". LGBTQ Nation. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Cuddling the gay away". Salon.com. August 2, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Richard Cohen". GLAAD. July 28, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah". March 19, 2007.
  11. ^ "'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, December 8, 2009". NBC News. December 9, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2023.

External links[edit]