Prizm News / November 1, 2018 / By Bob Vitale

(Illustration by Pastelitodepapa [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons)

Draft statement says professionals could lose their licenses if they harm clients with the harmful practice. 

By Bob Vitale

The state board that oversees 40,000 Ohio counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists will vote Friday on a statement that warns practitioners they could lose their licenses if they dabble in the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

A draft statement reviewed today by the 15-member Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage & Family Therapist Board says efforts to change clients’ sexual orientation or gender identity are not part of the practices it regulates and can be harmful, especially for children.


The statement concludes that the board “expects its licensees to practice their professions by relying upon the best evidence-based research available.”

“Licensees should be aware that the board can discipline licensees (up to and including license revocation) when they use a practice or intervention that results in harm to a client.”

A final vote on the statement will come Friday afternoon in Columbus.

“This is important,” said Grant Stancliff, the spokesperson for Equality Ohio. “These are the folks who do the licensing. It’s a strong thing.”

The Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage & Family Therapist Board would be the second state agency in Ohio to issue guidance against conversion therapy. The Ohio Board of Psychology issued an advisory in 2016 that included similar conclusions about its potential harm and similar warnings that its use could result in disciplinary action by the state.

Executive Director Brian Carnahan said the counseling board’s discussion and potential action on the issue is a result of questions raised about the practice.

“It certainly is a statement…that the board does not think it’s within the scope of these professions,” he said of the draft.

Equality Ohio began an effort about three years ago to encourage LGBTQ people who’ve endured conversion therapy to tell state regulatory boards about their experiences.

The organization also encouraged statewide professional associations to speak out. The Ohio chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and national groups for counselors and family therapists all oppose the practice as ineffective and potentially harmful.

Across the country, 14 states have passed laws banning the practice of conversion therapy against children. A bill in the Ohio Senate has been ignored, but Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus, Dayton, Athens and Lakewood have passed bans within their city limits.

Cincinnati enacted its ban in December 2015, one year after transgender teen Leelah Alcorn committed suicide in suburban Kings Mills. She cited conversion therapy