Psychology Today is refusing to eliminate its advertising section for harmful and dangerous "conversion" therapy.
For nearly 50 yearsÂ Psychology TodayÂ has helped educate readers on a wide variety of psychological issues. Originally founded in 1967, it was once owned by the premiere psychological organization, theÂ American Psychological Association. Now, it isÂ endorsed by theÂ National Board for Certified Counselors.
That endorsement is now problematic for those who wish to advance the credibility of the scientific discipline known as psychology.
Psychology Today is refusing to eliminate its listings for practitionersÂ of so-called conversion therapy, also known as "ex-gay" therapy or reparative therapy. The magazine's former owner, theÂ American Psychological Association, along with nearly every major medical organization in the U.S. and several around the world, have deemed conversion therapy, which claims to turn gay people straight, possibly harmful and dangerous.
Two states and the District of Columbia now ban the practice for minors, and a New Jersey judge recently deemed conversion therapy a "fraud."
The Human Rights Campaign has been in talks with Psychology Today, but has been unsuccessful in moving the magazine to remove the listings, and thus, its implicit stamp of approval, even if the listings are not intended to provide it.
â€œThere is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a personâ€™s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, and it is abundantly clear that conversion therapy poses devastating health risks for LGBT young people,â€ Fred Sainz, HRC's vice president of communications and marketing, told Psychology Todayâ€™s chief executive and publisher last week. â€œPsychology Today has the opportunity to take a leadership role in protecting the public from these harmful and illegal practices by taking prompt action to limit this type of advertisement and creating awareness about the danger of conversion therapy.â€Â
The Huffington Post reached out to Charles Frank, in charge of day-to-day operations atÂ Psychology Today. FrankÂ "told The Huffington Post he has no intention of removing health professionals who offer conversion therapy from the companyâ€™s listings."
â€œWe take care not to sit in judgement of others by allowing or denying individual participationâ€ in the directory, he wrote in an email. The standard for inclusion, he said, is that practitioners are â€œwho they say they are,â€ are licensed where relevant and are â€œunder no sanction from their states (or countries) not to practice.â€Â
Frank said that Psychology Today is not â€œa fanâ€ of reparative therapy, and that PT occasionally publishes editorials criticizing the practice. But he said this wasn't enough of a reason to remove professional profiles from the directory. â€œThere are many reasons why one group of people take issue with another, especially around the sensitive subject of relationships and therapy," he said. "The Therapy Directory cannot pick winners."