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Richard A. Cohen (born 1952) is a psychotherapist, author, and one of America’s best known sexual orientation therapists. Cohen, founder and Executive Director Emeritus of the International Healing Foundation, gives lectures and runs seminars and workshops on his theories of how to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and men and women who experience unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA). Cohen, who once lived a gay life in his youth, underwent years of psychotherapy to heal childhood sexual abuse, which he says subsequently led to his homosexual feelings. His therapy and personal growth helped him understand his same-sex attractions and eventually, transition to heterosexuality.
Cohen lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and their three children. His foundation, the International Healing Foundation, offers psychotherapy, coaching, and teleconferencing classes for members of the LGBT community and individuals with unwanted SSA.
Cohen has described a troublesome childhood and abusive home life that he purports to be the cause of his homosexuality later in life.
While attending Boston University he became an evangelical Christian and later joined the Unification Church, where he said, he remained celibate for long periods. The Unification Church rejects homosexual behavior. In 1982 Cohen married Jae Sook, a South Korean woman suggested to him by church leader Sun Myung Moon. Cohen says that during the first three years of his marriage he spent time “running around” with a boyfriend in New York. Cohen describes this time as a period of turmoil that led him to pursue healing from his past.
According to Cohen he works under the auspices of the International Healing Foundation, a nonprofit and tax-exempt organization founded by him in 1990 to treat same-sex attraction.
He is not licensed as a therapist. Cohen avoids state licensing requirements by asking for donations to his foundation instead of payment.
In 2002 Cohen was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association, after it accused him of six violations of its ethics code, which bars members from actions which “seek to meet their personal needs at the expense of clients, those that exploit the trust and dependency of clients, and for soliciting testimonials or promoting products in a deceptive manner.”
Cohen stated that the expulsion was for his efforts in the ex-gay movement, specifically for the book Coming Out Straight, and for one complaint. He did not appeal, and joined others in calling the ACA “a biased organization” and “gay-affirming club”.
After his expulsion, Cohen is not currently certified or licensed to be a clinician or psychotherapist.