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Ask the Experts

Question:

I have always been attracted to other women, and have always hated it. Is there a way to change my sexual orientation?

Answered by: Robert Kertzner

There is no evidence for an effective psychotherapy that changes sexual orientation, yet there are reports that document harmful effects of such treatment (for example, an increase in depressed mood or suicidal thoughts). Experts believe that this is because attractions are deeply rooted in a person’s emotional make-up and there is no simple explanation for sexual attractions (homosexual or heterosexual), let alone a theory about how attractions could be changed.

What might be possible to change is how you regard your feelings of attraction to other women, regardless of how you live your life. Knowing why you hate same-sex attractions can be a first step to take. For instance, if your feelings are based on deeply held religious beliefs, it may be possible to find more tolerant religious teachings on homosexuality that could help you experience your attractions as less hateful.

Similarly, if you live in a community that does not accept homosexuality, you might want to consider how this influences the way you think about yourself with the option of looking for less judgmental places to live, work, or participate in community life. And psychotherapy may be helpful to explore other sources of hateful feelings towards yourself, which might influence the way you think about your attractions to other women. Hateful feelings about yourself are a burden that can be lightened.