Family wants to go to reparative therapy for my homosexuali

Dr. Darcy Answers The Difficult Questions

Dear Darcy:

Last year I came out to my family and although I thought they seemed relatively okay, I realize now that I was wrong. I just turned 25, which in my family means access to your trust account. Not for this family member, however. My parents just told me that unless I agree to go away to a ‘reparative therapy’ program for two months, and make an ‘honest attempt to be straight,’ I won’t ever get a time in my trust account. Can my parents really keep my money from me and does reparative therapy even work?

I thought I’d heard every example of parents leveraging their financial power to influence their children’s lives until I read your email. Your story leaves a particularly acidic taste in my mouth and I’m very sorry that you’re contending with this. I’ll try to keep my emotional reaction in check and provide you with what I suspect will be more useful information:

There are several organizations in the field of mental health that conduct research to determine what constitutes ‘disorders’ and effective ‘therapies’ for the treatment of disorders. The American Psychiatric Association is one such organization and in 1973, they determined that homosexuality is not a disorder and it was removed from the DSM. The American Psychological Association doesn’t believe that sexual orientation can be influenced by therapies claiming to convert/repair individuals. They go on to say that individuals seeking out such services are “often coerced by family members or religious groups to try and do so. The reality is that homosexuality is not an illness. It does not require treatment and is not changeable.”

Your first question is one that you need to discuss with an attorney. Let me know if you need a referral. If you can’t afford to pay for an attorney, I’ll help you find a way to access the legal services you need. Your second question is a definitive NO, these so-called therapies don’t work. Moreover, I want to caution you against complying with your parents’ requirement to attend such a program. Aside from the potential dangers to your well-being, it could set a precedent in your relationship for years to come. Given how young you are, there’s no telling where this can lead.

E-mail questions to or call 212-604-0144

Dr. Darcy Smith received her Masters degree from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from New York University. She has been a practicing social worker for over 10 years and is in private practice in both New York City and New Jersey.

*By submitting questions, the writer acknowledges that she has no rights of confidentiality and that her question or a version thereof may be printed in GO Magazine. Correspondence between Dr. Darcy Smith and a writer does not constitute a therapeutic relationship and such a relationship and the rights/privileges associated with such can only be established through a scheduled, in-person session.

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