Art Therapists for Human Rights

Statement on Conversion Therapy


Published: 9/12/2018


Art Therapists for Human Rights (AT4HR) affirms the rights and identities of LGBTQIA people. Congruent with current research, AT4HR acknowledges that sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression vary along a continuum and these variations are not considered mental illnesses[1]. LGBTQIA people frequently experience challenges associated with stigma and discrimination and art therapy may be particularly effective in helping the community navigate these challenges. AT4HR believes that all people who identify as LGBTQIA deserve access to art therapy services and art therapists must strive to be competent in effective treatment strategies to support LGBTQIA people throughout their lifespan.


AT4HR recognizes that art therapists are in a position to advocate for the mental health and well-being of LGBTQIA people and supports a total ban of the unethical and harmful practice of any therapy that attempts to cure, repair, or change the sexual orientation or gender identity of individuals. In the United States of America, fourteen states (and Washington DC) have laws banning the ineffective and barbaric practice of conversion therapy.  Numerous studies and personal testimonies of individuals from the LGBTQIA community, attest to the ineffective and detrimental effects  of conversion therapy, which include higher incidences of depression, anxiety, isolation, and suicide.  Since 2000, all credible mental health professional organizations have acknowledged this science and have denounced conversion therapy.  Eighteen years have passed, and it is time for all of our state laws to reflect this.  


We demand that the US government do what is just and humane by enacting laws that protect all LGBTQIA people, within and beyond our borders.  We need laws that protect people, rather than promote psychological harm to people.We particularly need protection for LGBTQIA children under eighteen years of age, who seem to be the primary targets of this odious and destructive practice. AT4HR also supports legislation that protects the health, wellbeing, and privacy of LGBTQIA youth and adults.   We do not support any legislation requiring mental health practitioners report and “out” their LGBTQIA clients to their parents/guardians.





Last revised: 9/12/2018

[1] “The Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973 after reviewing evidence that it was not a mental disorder.”  Also, the World Health Organization is due to “declassify transgender identity as a mental disorder” in 2018.