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Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological, physical, or spiritual interventions. There is no reliable evidence that sexual orientation can be changed and medical institutions warn that conversion therapy practices are ineffective and potentially harmful. Medical, scientific, and government organizations in the United States and United Kingdom have expressed concern over the validity, efficacy and ethics of conversion therapy. Various jurisdictions around the world have passed laws against conversion therapy.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) opposes psychiatric treatment "based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation" and describes attempts to change a person's sexual orientation by practitioners as unethical. It also states that the advancement of conversion therapy may cause social harm by disseminating unscientific views about sexual orientation. In 2001, United States Surgeon General David Satcher issued a report stating that "there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed".Techniques used in conversion therapy in the United States and Western Europe have included ice-pick lobotomies; chemical castration with hormonal treatment; aversive treatments, such as "the application of electric shock to the hands and/or genitals"; "nausea-inducing drugs ... administered simultaneously with the presentation of homoerotic stimuli"; and masturbatory reconditioning. More recent clinical techniques used in the United States have been limited to counseling, visualization, social skills training, psychoanalytic therapy, and spiritual interventions such as "prayer and group support and pressure", though there are some reports of aversive treatments through unlicensed practice as late as the early 2000s. The term reparative therapy has been used as a synonym for conversion therapy in general, but it has been argued that strictly speaking it refers to a specific kind of therapy associated with the psychologists Elizabeth Moberly and Joseph Nicolosi.The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) was the main organization advocating for conversion therapy. Fundamentalist Christian groups, and some other organizations, have used religious justification for the therapy. However, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims describes conversion therapy as a form of torture.