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Statement from the Anna Freud Centre on conversion “therapy”

The Anna Freud Centre is absolutely opposed to conversion “therapy”. We want all young people to be who they are without any pressure to change, suppress, or deny their LGBTQI+ identity.

We challenge describing such approaches as “therapy”. Being LGBTQI+ is not a form of mental distress and is not something that needs to be changed.

Psychological therapies are key to supporting children and young people who are in distress. They can be important tools to enabling all children and young people to thrive and achieve their own goals in life.

Decades ago, being LGBTQI+ was seen by the mental health profession as a form of mental distress in need of treatment.

This is unequivocally not the case today. We also know that conversion “therapy” does real harm to the lives of people who have been exposed to them. We know they lead to higher levels of anxiety, depression, and negative internal LGBTQI+ views and lower levels of self-esteem.

We strongly recommend anyone considering accessing conversion therapy, for themselves or someone else, to seek information first. We encourage speaking to individuals who have been exposed to such approaches to understand the long-term, negative impact they have.

We also encourage children, young people, and parents and carers to be supported to understand and talk about sexual orientation and gender identity. We have some helpful information here.

We are pleased to see the Government’s efforts to ban conversion therapy and welcome the consultation. To help all children and young people to thrive and achieve their own goals in life, we wholeheartedly support strengthening these proposals so that legislation bans, without exception, hurting children, young people, and adults under the guise of conversion “therapy” in any setting.

Anyone who would like further support on the any of the topics raised in this statement can contact any of the following organisations:

Further information on the damage caused by conversion therapy is available here.