082: Ending Conversion Therapy

SMA15-4928The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently released a groundbreaking report: Ending Conversion Therapy – Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth.

Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Elliot Kennedy of SAMHSA and Dr. Judith Glassgold of the American Psychological Association (APA) – both of whom were involved in the development of this report.  They discuss best practices for families, ecclesiastical leaders and mental health professionals as they support adolescents and children who are struggling with issues related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This podcast includes a discussion as to why conversion therapies are not effective methods for treatment (in fact are harmful), the importance of understanding how family/community rejection can dramatically effect mental and physical health of our youth, applicable statistics and education, and affirmative models that promote family and individual health. This podcast is particularly relevant at this time within the Mormon community when LDS leaders recently changed church policies that directly affect the LGBTQ community in adversarial ways and can be used to help educate families as well as ward and stake leaders/communities who are wanting to best serve their congregants.

Elliot Kennedy is the Special Expert for LGBT Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services at SAMHSA. His work focuses on planning and coordinating LGBT policy and programmatic initiatives at SAMHSA, as well as integrating LGBT cultural competency throughout the agency. He also serves as staff for the HHS LGBT Issues Coordinating Committee. He was previously Government Affairs Counsel at The Trevor Project, where he advocated for laws and regulations that support LGBTQ youth and young adult mental health. Among other areas, his work focused on access to mental health services, safe and supportive educational environments, and ending youth homelessness.

Dr. Judith Glassgold is the Associate Executive Director and Director of Government Relations for Public Interest Directorate of the American Psychological Association (APA). She is an expert in sexual orientation and gender identity. She was Chair of the APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, and served as President of Division 44, the Society for Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues, and Chair of APA’s Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues. Dr. Glassgold has authored over twenty publications on sexual orientation and gender identity and presented extensively on these issues to professional and community organizations.

Family Acceptance Project

The Trevor Project

The Center of Excellence for Transgender Health

World Professional Association for Transgender Health

Mormon Mental Health Association


Many thanks to The Lower Lights for the beautiful bumper music and to Brian Dillman for audio production of this podcast.  Natasha Helfer Parker runs a private practice in Wichita, KS and writes at The Mormon Therapist for Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith.

Donations to Mormon Mental Health are tax deductible and go directly to support the costs of producing the podcast.  If and when donations exceed these costs, they will go to support trainings, research, materials development, and financial support for those who need help affording appropriate therapy services.

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