conversion therapy


Definition of conversion therapy

: the use of any of various methods (such as aversive stimulation or religious counseling) in an attempt to change a person's sexual orientation to heterosexual or to change a person's gender identity to correspond to the sex the person has or was identified as having at birth

Note: Conversion therapy is generally regarded as having no scientific basis and as being both ineffective and harmful.

Conversion therapy is both pointless and painful. At its best, it can inflict considerable psychological damage on a child without changing their sexual orientation or gender identity whatsoever. At its worst, it can lead to suicide …— Samantha Allen Momentum has been building in legislative sessions this spring for the bans, which prohibit state-licensed mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy for anyone under 18.— Susan Miller

called also reparative therapy

First Known Use of conversion therapy

1973, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About conversion therapy

Time Traveler for conversion therapy

Time Traveler

The first known use of conversion therapy was in 1973

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near conversion therapy

conversion table

conversion therapy


See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for conversion therapy

Cite this Entry

“Conversion therapy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!