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A Message From Our President

I am writing to you today to make sure that all our members are aware of the events that followed ABCT’s apology for Behavior Therapy’s contributions to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression Change Efforts (or “Conversion Therapy;” hereafter, SOGIECEs).

After we issued the apology, ABCT’s Board of Directors, like many of you, began discussing what to do next to minimize future harms related to the practice and dissemination of SOGIECEs. Our focus has been on identifying meaningful actions that would have a real impact. One concern about future harms that we found particularly compelling came to us though our member feedback portal; this was the concern that the publications in ABCT journals could still be used today in court cases defending the ongoing use of SOGIECEs unless they were retracted. To address this concern we consulted with Elsevier, our publisher, and we worked to familiarize ourselves with the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines on retraction. We also worked with Elsevier to submit a hypothetical version of our case to COPE to get their feedback.

We are currently working with the Publications Committee to draft a policy on retractions that will guide our journal editors here and in the future. The draft policy will be posted for public comment for 60 days before it is taken up by the Board. You will be receiving notice about how to access the draft policy and how to submit feedback shortly.

Dr. Carolyn Becker (who serves as the Board liaison to the Membership Issues Committees, including the Sexual and Gender Minority SIG) and I also consulted with several attorneys on all aspects of this important issue. We found out that some publishers bring retracted articles out from behind the paywall to make the retraction notice more available.  Additionally, we learned that retractions would have no impact on the admissibility of study findings in court. Thus, we continue to investigate the retraction issue and have turned our focus more broadly to additional ways that we could have meaningful impact here.

To date, this has included investigating several options, including disclaimers that would make clear the harms that result from the use of SOGIECEs, the development of a white paper and/or clinical guidelines that could be used by attorneys and others who are also trying to limit harms to the LGBTQ community, and working with our Publications Committee to consider a special issue in one of our journals to document (a) the consequences of SOGIECEs and (b) the limitations of the research that SOGIECEs proponents continue to use.

We have also reached out to the American Psychological Association and the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology to discuss collaborations to amplify our voice. I am pleased to announce that we will proceed with the development of the Inter-organizational Scientific Task Force on the Iatrogenic Effects of SOGIECEs. The members of this task force will be charged with conducting, and submitting for peer-review, a systematic literature review on psychosocial outcomes of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression change efforts, including recommendations and future directions for providing inclusive and affirmative care. The task force report will be published by these authors, and each association will be able to use the finished product in whatever ways help advance their goals. ABCT will be appointing two members to the task force. We will be sending out additional details, including how to apply, shortly.

There are also other collaborative initiatives being considered and we will keep you informed as we make more progress in this area.

I will finish by emphasizing that our work remains ongoing, and you can still be part of these discussions. I personally read every comment that comes through our portal. and I encourage you to keep the lines of communication open by continuing to submit your thoughts and by spreading the word about the anonymous feedback portal. We would like to hear from as many of you as possible. Together, I believe we can forge a path that addresses our history and leads us to a better future.

Laura Seligman, ABCT President

What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of treatment that is based firmly on research findings.  It places emphasis on changing your cognitions (thoughts) or behaviors (actions) in order to effect change in how you feel. These approaches help people in achieving specific changes or goals.

Changes or goals might involve:

A way of acting: like smoking less or being more outgoing;
A way of feeling: like helping a person to be less scared, less depressed, or less anxious;
A way of thinking: like learning to problem-solve or get rid of self-defeating thoughts;
A way of dealing with physical or medical problems: like reducing back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.

Cognitive behavioral therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past. They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life. CBT is an effective treatment for individuals, parents, children, couples, and families. The goal of CBT is to help people improve and gain more control over their lives by changing behaviors that don’t work well to ones that do.

How to Get Help

If you are looking for help, either for yourself or someone else, you may be tempted to call someone who advertises in a local publication or who comes up from a search of the Internet. You may, or may not, find a competent therapist in this manner. It is wise to check on the credentials of a psychotherapist. It is expected that competent therapists hold advanced academic degrees. They should be listed as members of professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association. Of course, they should be licensed to practice in your state. You can find competent specialists who are affiliated with local universities or mental health facilities or who are listed on the websites of professional organizations. You may, of course, visit our website ( and click on “Find a CBT Therapist”

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an interdisciplinary organization committed to the advancement of a scientific approach to the understanding and amelioration of problems of the human condition. These aims are achieved through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to assessment, prevention, and treatment.