Tuesday, July 18, 2017

California "Conversion Therapist" Sued For Consumer Fraud

Every legitimate mental health and medical association in America condemns the use of so-called "conversion therapy" which is claimed to change gays into heterosexuals.  In a single voice, these associations say such bogus therapy doesn't work, and can be very harmful and even induce suicide. A small but growing number of states have banned fraudulent ex-gay "conversion therapy" for minors.  Yet in most states,  quacks and religious "ministries" continue to peddle the ex-gay myth and prey on gays and their parents (who usually want their children to "change" to meet parental expectations and/or avoid parental embarrassment) and in the process rake in large sums of money for their worthless, witch doctor-like "therapy sessions."   Now, a therapist in California is being sued  for fraud under that state's consumer protection law much as JONAH - a conversion therapy ministry that victimized those of the Jewish faith - was sued in New Jersey and ultimately forced out of business.  Here are excerpts from a piece reporting on this new approach to stopping the fraudulent and unethical practice:
Katherine McCobb — who identifies as a lesbian and was told by her Berkeley-based therapist that she was unnatural and he could help “rewire her brain” with “conversion therapy” tactics and change her sexual orientation — has sued the marriage and family counselor for fraud under California’s consumer protection laws.
The American Psychological Association and other professional counseling organizations have widely discredited “conversion therapy” as ineffective, unethical, and dangerous.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights filed the complaint, the initial step before a lawsuit, in Alameda County Superior Court on Thursday against Lloyd Willey on behalf of McCobb, who said she spent more than $70,000 from 2006 to 2014 when she was his client.
“Therapists who exploit vulnerable people by taking their money based on false claims that being lesbian or gay is unnatural and that counseling can change a person’s sexual orientation are engaging in fraud,” Shannon Price Minter, legal director with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a press statement. “Charging a person money based on such bald-faced misrepresentations violates California’s consumer protection laws.” California has outlawed conversion therapy on minors. McCobb began paying Willey for therapy when she was 25 years old. McCobb didn’t start therapy for help coping with her sexual orientation, but Willey fixated on McCobb being a lesbian and pressured her to become heterosexual with various conversion therapy tactics, according to the complaint.
For example, Willey told McCobb that being a lesbian is unnatural, publicly shamed her during group therapy sessions and urged her to change her appearance to be more stereotypical feminine, including losing weight, growing her hair, changing her wardrobe, and wearing make-up, according to the complaint.
Willey also pressured McCobb to date a man who was also Willey’s client, according to the complaint.

Hopefully the lawsuit is successful and insurance carriers will cease insuring therapists who engage in such fraudulent practices.  

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