Costs of gay conversion therapy fabulously high


Gay conversion therapy, and the controversy surrounding it, has been something of a news item and perhaps it should be, as the practice is not only seen as ineffective, but also a large expense. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

There has been some controversy in recent years concerning “gay conversion therapy,” a method that purports to make homosexual persons, male and female, heterosexual. Little science supports it but regardless, people keep buying it and the costs of gay conversion therapy are considerable.

Four sue to recover costs of gay conversion therapy

Four men in New Jersey, according to NBC News, have garnered national attention for suing JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing, an organization offering therapies including the oft-maligned “gay conversion therapy.” The suit was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s a fraud suit, as JONAH allegedly failed to “cure” the homosexuality of four of its clients.

The center is just one of many such foundations that offers the therapy, which purports to reverse homosexual orientation through counseling and other therapeutic techniques. It is often, though not always, offered by a religious counseling organizations. JONAH, according to Reuters, does not bill itself thusly.

Damages sought aren’t being disclosed, but costs are said to reach in excess of $10,000 per year. JONAH charges $60 for a group therapy session, $100 for individual counseling sessions and reportedly encourages patients to attend $700 weekend retreats.

Seems to cost about as much as regular therapy

The costs of gay conversion therapy are considerable, just as with other types of intense therapy, though the costs appear roughly in-line with with other forms, such as general psychological therapy or drug rehabilitation although, according to MotherJones, it isn’t covered by most insurance companies. Most providers aren’t licensed psychologists. Some lack even a bachelor’s degree.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports a facility in Memphis, Tenn., Love in Action, was charging $1,000 per week for in-patient, residential treatment, almost like a rehab, some years ago. As of 2007, it had been scaled down to a four-day “encounter” retreat, for $2,000.

Assuming a person was in JONAH’s group sessions 50 weeks per year, taking time off for the holidays, that’s a $3,000 tab, or $5,000 for individual sessions. Throw in one weekend retreat per quarter, that’s an extra $2,800 on top. An investigation in England’s The Independent found charges of 40 pounds (about $64) per counseling session. An highly-credentialed “ex-gay” counselor, or at least believed to be so by those who advocate the therapy, in Salt Lake City, Utah, according to, charges $200 per therapy session. That’s a lot of cash.


Gay conversion therapy, also called “reparative therapy,” is not endorsed by the American Psychological Association nor the American Psychiatry Association. Both assert it not only doesn’t work but can be harmful in some cases. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the World Health Organization and the British Association for Counseling and Psychology, the APA of England, also disavow the practice and caution that it can be more harm than good.

In fairness, it has worked for some. According to ABC, at least one person for whom gay conversion therapy worked, one Aaron Blitzer, is a plaintiff in the suit filed in October to block the ban against the therapy in California.

Aside from extremely sparse scientific proof of the efficacy, many assert the therapy is harmful. Reports have been made of suicides as a result as well as accounts of humiliation, assaults. Some therapists even recommend shock treatment for “curing” homosexuality.


NBC News


Mother Jones


The Independent:



Sydney Morning Herald:

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