Ongoing conversation regarding reorientation therapy

I have learned that the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) passed out a paper by Richard Carlson criticizing my views on reorientation counseling at the recent PTA convention. I wonder why the PTA thought such information had anything to do with school safety.

To pick up the conversation from the beginning, see “Sexual Reparative (Conversion) Therapy Revisited” followed by a response from me (“Sexual Reorientation Therapy Reconsidered“). Recently, he answered me back in print with an article on the website of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians. For the new article responding to Carlson’s article handed out at the PTA convention, consult

Happy reading.

3 thoughts on “Ongoing conversation regarding reorientation therapy”

  1. This comment sent to me from David Blakeslee:

    Dr. Throckmorton makes many notable corrections to the misperceptions projected onto his work by those opposed to his work. The current political climate in so many areas seems so charged and accusatory, nearly “tribal” and “paranoid.” It is destructive to science in general and to our clients in particular that we allow emotion to overwhelm scientific curiosity and scientific exploration. Scientists and clinicians (often two distinct groups) must be united in a search for truth through open-minded inquiry. We must have the humility to accept we have been misguided when the evidence shows it. The Spitzer study debunks a couple of popular myths about same sex attraction and reorientation therapy: it turns out it can be quite effective; it turns out it improves mental health. Throckmorton is right to point out that the study is powerful because experimenter bias appears controlled for through Spitzer’s authorship. Carlson’s concerns are quite legitimate about reorientation therapy harming clients and provides data to support his claim. But this issue of therapy harming clients is not limited to reorientation therapy, but to all therapy. A more valuable inquiry by Carlson would be how does therapy in general harm our clients? After that has been determined one could easily apply those results to therapist who do reorientation therapy to clients and see what all groups of therapists have in common when they harm their clients, regardless of the presenting problem. I think Carlson does not do this because of his fierce protection of his clients and of his world view. The former is understandable, the latter interferes with his obligation as a scientist. It exposes what is a vulnerability for all of us as therapists and scientists in the study of human behavior: that when an area of study is closely associated with our own areas of pain and suffering, we are more likely to shape the information in ways that confirm our beliefs and opinions. At that point we cease to become scientists, and become advocates…a legitimate activity for any of us, but only when we are not disguised as scientists.

  2. Here are the comments I just posted with a few changes. Diana

    I am certainly not an expert in this area but isn’t ANY kind of therapy “reparative and reorientation” of some kind. To say that therapy is dangerous for anyone seeking it to facilitate them to feel different about their sexuality seems discriminatory and unfair and detrimental. When I went to therapy or attended support groups for “unwanted feelings and behaviors” in different areas of my life that I wanted to change, it was to reorient myself to a new way of being and to repair the brokenness I felt. Does it MATTER what the condition is if the person WANTS to make a change in their life ?? Whether anyone “agreed” with me or not and wanted to support me or not, this was what I determined for myself to be the right and correct thing to do for ME. Did I experience “pain and suffering” during the therapy ?? YES – of course I did, I HAD to in order to get through that which was limiting me by holding me to a belief I always had which I now know was false. In order to evolve we all must go through painful experiences – we reach a whole new dimension when we choose to face that which is limiting us and understand it in a whole new way that separates us as an individual from that which puts us in a collective catagory with a label. Thank you Dr. Throckmorton.

  3. Dr. Throckmorton’s ongoing exchange with C. Richard Carlson exposes the principle which most concerns me: gay rights activists actually employ the very thing they claim those of us having traditional, Christian beliefs use. They rigidly refuse to allow any other viewpoint than their own and they actively denegrate anyone who offers a differing viewpoint, thereby making themselves much less tolerant and accepting than those of us they oppose!

    This opposition is invariably present as they seek to justify their departure from conservative values.

    Only honest seekers of truth can move past the cacophonos barricade built by such activists. Such a one can see the real-life unhappiness that pursues the departure from family values, while admitting a longing for the peace that comes from embracing those values.

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