A college psychology professor's observations about public policy, mental health, sexual identity, and religious issues
“It’s guaranteed!” says Richard Cohen.
Alan: Thanks for posting this.
Sorry Alan, part duex.
Could you be kind enough to confirm the date on which this July Board meeting occurred?
The first order of business I brought to the table when I joined the Exodus Board of Directors in July of 2000 was to reject Dr. Cohen’s application for membership with Exodus, publicly distance ourselves from his ministry style and approach and to cease all sales of his materials.
Nice try, but perhaps you could explain why you therefore took Exodus into an alliance with Cohen in 2003?
P.A.T.H. You remember, the alliance that Cohen himself arranged.
Whatever you claim to have said in private with him, it does appear these concerns weren’t enough to say or do anything in public.
A link through to that formal policy against touch therapy would also be appreciated. (I assume anyone in the public can easily find these policies — the only reason I’m asking for the link is because I’m a novice computer/internet user.)
On a side note: while you’re in the mood to clean the Exodus site — isn’t it about time you removed all the glowing references to Paul Cameron? Including those occassions where he is deceptively quoted second-hand, eg Satinover. TE Schmidt. Concerned woman, Bob Knight etc etc etc
I also sincerely hope that now you’ve likewise joined the Board of Exodus Global Alliance you will not permit EGA to again send an official delegation to the Caribbean to support the criminal laws against gay men.
Ask Pat Lawrence and DL Foster about that one, if you need clarification. I did ask Randy Thomas on his blog, but he deleted the question; unanswered.
Ed: So, where do I report for my flogging? 🙂
You just did 🙂
As we said, the question for you was rhetoric. We knew the answer, and the history — which is what you were referring to, but unfortunately using present tense.
By the way, Grantdale, several months ago the Exodus webpage was redone and the day after the site went live we discovered a number of very OLD links were re-added to the website. Unfortunately, Richard Cohen’s was one of them. In my estimation that site was there for maybe a day and perhaps a week at best. When I heard that it was there it came off the site that minute.
One final aside, I was aksed to join the board of PFOX several months ago and I shared with Regina Griggs and the PFOX board that I would do so only if Richard Cohen decided not to serve another term.
Again, I do not want to bash Dr. Cohen, but I do believe that his techniques are dangerous and cast a negative light on the entire change movement.
Thanks, Ed, for alerting me about this thread on Richard Cohen.
It isn’t my desire to bash Cohen or anyone else for that matter. However, I do want to set the record straight (smiling as I type that) on Exodus’ relationship with him.
Dr. Cohen had, that same year, presented a workshop on touch therapy at the annual Exodus conference that was unbelievable.
When I became President of Exodus in 2001(then called Executive Director)I realized that Exodus was still offering Cohen materials and listing him on the links page of the website. It was then that both ceased.
I have been a respectfully vocal critic of Dr. Cohens. We have had conversations in person and via email. I have made my criticisms known.
Dr. Cohen and his techniques are not endorsed by Exodus and never will be. It was under my leadership that we wrote and adopted a formal policy that no Exodus Member Ministry could offer touch therapy as an option.
I hope this clears up any misconceptions about how Exodus and I stand on the matter.
Grantdale: sorry I’ve been caught up on the other threads and forgot to come back and check on this one. Regarding documentation of NAMBLA participating in gay pride parades, I can only say that I have seen them in our local Pride celebration. I remember the signs from years ago and can’t remember whether they were in the parade or at the gathering in the park afterwords. It could be as the other poster suggested…that they weren’t ‘official’ but managed to show up with their signs. Our local Pride is so big that I’ve honestly not been able to make the rounds of all the booths for the past several years…and I’ve just assumed that they were still there. So, where do I report for my flogging? 🙂
I especially appreciated your lengthy challenge and believe that Exodus needs to hear it. I’m going to cut and paste a copy of your challenge in an e-mail to Alan Chambers. (BTW: it may sound like Alan and I are best buds but I never had contact with him until after I started blogging here. I do believe he respects my opinion, though, so I’m hoping he’ll give your challenge the time and thought that it deserves.)
It is my belief that a lot of homophobia and anti-gay hatred is really a fear that gays are child molestors. It’s always brought up that way: “What’s NEXT if we give the OK to gays — pedoPHILIA!!!???
It’s the only explanation I can come up with to explain why so many people seem so upset by homosexuality. They are worried we want their kids — or their pets.
Doesn’t NAMBLA stand for the North American Marlon Brando Lookalike Association?
About 13 years ago I was on the committee for organizing the parade for CSW (Los Angeles’ gay pride). If I recall correctly, NAMBLA submitted an application and we said “no” (or maybe we voted not to allow them without them even applying – I’m not certain which).
If NAMBLA was ever a participant in the CSW parade, it was long long ago.
Interestingly, considering how much attention the anti-gay activists give to NAMBLA, I’ve never met anyone in the group. I don’t even know anyone who has met anyone in the group.
I would also appreciate you producing evidence for NAMBLA marching in gay pride parades. I realise it’s a popular claim from anti-gay people, but where is it occuring? Where did it occur?
Now… I can nominate a couple of occassions from years ago when NAMBLA did march — with almost universal condemnation and only because the march organisers could not legally ban them.
(Ironically, the anti-gay St Pat’s law suite has actually given gay pride organisers the ability to ban them. Dark cloud, silver lining.)
I have seen some old photos where NAMBLA — just 2 or 3 people typically — marched but were surrounded by dozens of people holding signs that would have left nobody in any doubt about what the rest of the parade thought about NAMBLA.
NAMBLA, of course, was constantly seeking to sneak into things. The response is invariably swift and harsh. And rightly so. I know of no gay group that tolerates them, let alone asks them to appear on TV as spokesperson. Not even while they are waiting for “some solid evidence”.
“NAMBLA” = enough evidence.
No probs Warren — I was careful to say I recognised you had distanced yourself from Cohen (hey, we’ve had those conversations here afterall!). I was careful to use ‘your side’ too. And I realise you can only speak for yourself in this regard.
I also recognise we’ve previously discussed concerns about making this huggy/gropey thing a part of therapy, full stop, and not just when the therapist does it. The newsletters give some details about the group sessions he runs, and they sound full-on in terms of huggy/gropey things. (Dad and I don’t mind hugging one another when we do, but we’d both rather die than go through one of those sessions! Ick.)
We also get to read Cohen’s response to the CNN interview in his Summer 2006 newsletter.
(Hold a kidney tray under your chin while you read that one : your eyes may fall out of your head.)
eg leaving aside the utterly unprofessional “analysis” of two people he’s never seen in therapy AND the attempt to blame others, instead of himself… the discription around his being booted from the ACA because of reasons 1) 2) and 3) immediately follows his description of doing exactly the same thing 4 years later: eg his (ab)use of a current client in a self-promotional TV program and (ab)using a current client to “demonstrate” a technique.
Very, very, very bad. Obviously he still does not understand or connect the words “appropriate” and “client”, even after being disciplined.
Apart from the commercial use of a current client in a media story, “Rob’s” (the client) words while hugging away on the couch should have alerted any therapist that they’d overstepped:
“I feel very safe, very comforted, and it just feels wonderful.”
Oops. Hands OFF buddy! If he’d wanted to demonstate this nonsense, he should have sent you or Nicolosi a airline ticket and never used a current — or even former — client.
We still come back to the fact that Cohen was not some unknown person. To the contrary, he’s been front and centre of the exgay movement for many years.
If we knew all too well what Cohen was about despite living the other side of the World, what on earth is Exodus’ excuse?
(PS the endorsements are here. “Dr” Laura you’d already be familar with, although she’s apparently been dropped in the 2006 reprint. She’s no publicity value any more, I guess.)
Grantdale: These are some good but disturbing points you raise. I can only answer for myself, others will have to answer for themselves. I never endorsed Richard’s book (and did not read all of it – I really am surprised by the endorsements that you cite) but I did not give sufficient attention to his connections with PFOX. Part of the reason I really did not consider it is that up until recently, I did not see the board being very involved in their activities. He was rarely involved in much of anything they did and nothing I was directly involved in.
After it was revealed that he was removed from the ACA, I asked him about the issue and the holding therapy. I have to keep our conversation confidential but I can say that he told me that he personally did not do holding therapy but rather demonstrated it for mentors to do. I don’t agree with that either but I know those in the “men’s movement” seem to think that is ok. I took him at his word.
At the NEA convention, PFOX wanted copies of his books distributed there. We declined to do so.
I am not going into a blow by blow description but I did take my concerns to several others on several occasions before the May CNN debacle. Part of the development of the guidelines relates to my growing concerns that sexual identity work needed standards and mental health professionals need guidance when there are internal conflicts.
That’s all I am going to say here at this point. My response to a number of concerns I (still) have is the creation of the SIT Guidelines.
To A Therapist: Why not identify yourself?
I hope I’m not going to keep banging on about this, but I am concerned about the re-writing that’s going on. Apologies for the length, but I think you do need to address the underlying problem rather than suggest we forget about Cohen and move on.
Because the question is not just “move on”, but “move onto who next?”
Firstly — fully recognise that you have indeed distanced yourself from Cohen and spoken against his behaviour with clients. As best as we can tell, you went public on this about 3 months ago when you announced you would no longer officially represent PFOX. Exodus quietly dropped web links through to Cohen about the same time. PFOX has made no comment on the matter, although they seem to have removed him as well in the past 2 months.
OK, so everyone’s gone running for the hills since that interview in May 2006.
My concern is that Cohen has been behaving like this since 1990. And while it’s somewhat pleasing to know you thought his 2000 book was basically unprintable — you’ve said you did review a draft of it before it was published. The book was endorsed by Nicolosi as President of NARTH, Paulk as FOTF’s “gender expert”, Socarides and Satinover.
Cohen himself has been sending out newsletters for years and they make it all perfectly clear what he’s been doing; including the group gropes and the therapist hands-on with clients. Besen also covered Cohen in some detail in “Anything but straight” from 2003. In that year Cohen and 10 other groups — including Exodus and NARTH — formed the P.A.T.H. coalition. I think the last time Cohen spoke (officially) at a NARTH conference was November 2004, and you were personally working with PFOX and Cohen right up until the first months of this year (eg Montgomery County School Board, the PFOX brochures etc). He was kicked out of the APA in 2002 for an ethics violation on this very issue of unprofessional client-therapist boundaries.
OK. That’s the history. And it’s a very clear history.
Anyone reading that history should be asking one very pointed question; namely, what does it take before ‘your side’ is willing to exercise some professional standards in this regard?
Please do not point me to your recent guidelines. Happy to see them, as a start, although no exgay group has adoped them, but I want to know why nobody said or did anything throughout all those years?
To any outsider it would appear that ‘your side’ will allow people to get away with the most outrageous and unprofessional behaviour — until some bad press causes everyone to act. And by “act” I mean lift up the carpet and sweep it all out of sight, away from the embarassing media spotlight.
We’ve got a clear case of unwillingness to properly examine, to be honest, and to act against this “therapy”. Richard Cohen has had a flashing red light on his head for years, and yet the concerns about Cohen haven’t come from ‘your side’, but from ‘our’s. In fact, ‘your side’ kept rewarding the man up until a few months ago for heavens sake!
Now… square this history with the current exgay media campaign going on against the APA and it’s concerns about what can — and does — occur in exgay therapy? Richard Cohen and the exgay response to Richard Cohen is a textbook example for why the APA’s concerns are justified.
Done, for now.
Thanks Jim, grantdale and Warren for the ‘gap-filler’ on Richard Cohen. I will do some checking with Alan Chambers at Exodus but I now think I know what was going on.
Exodus started as ‘an umbrella’ organization, a ‘loose-knit coalition’ of like-minded ministries. They soon realized that this structure was TOO loose so they developed a new policy where anyone ‘like-minded’ could attend a conference but certain criteria had to be met to become an ‘affiliate’ or a ‘member agency’. There was much discussion about this evolvement into a more rigid structure and, I believe it is something that Exodus still contends with today.
Many within Exodus had concerns about Colin Cook and his Homosexuals Anonymous program. While the program seemed to have merit, some of Cook’s therapies were questioned. And, it turns out, the concerns were not without merit.
Anyway, I’ve got a feeling that Exodus followed the same path with Cohen. They neither endorsed him nor publicly distanced themselves from him until they had some solid evidence.
The fact that Cohen’s ministry was listed separately from Exodus is evidence that someone was compiling lists of ‘all the agencies they knew of’ in the one instance and, in the other, they all showed up to protest for their own reasons. So, Exodus’ name and Cohen’s appeared closely linked but it does not appear that Exodus was endorsing him.
It’s kind of like when a gay rally or march happens and you’ve got gay Christians, gay wiccans and representatives from NAMBLA all highly profiled. SOME people wish that SOME of the other people weren’t there but they feel that if they elected not to participate, then only the more embarrassing element would be present.
Jim: Weird but true. I saw a pre-publication draft of the book sometime in 2000 or 1999 – I can’t remember just when. I remember thinking: I doubt this will be published. There were no pictures that I recall and I gave up on it when I read about SSAD (same-sex attraction disorder or something like that). After that, I never looked at it again.
I do know Exodus distanced themselves from him after a workshop there where he demonstrated the holding techniques. That did not fly there.
And also, I would point out, Richard Cohen’s book from 2000 — the one with the glowing foreword by “Dr.” Laura Schlessigner, has is devoted to his bizarre techniques, complete with photographs.
It was all a little hard to miss.
Ed — Cohen has been like this since at least 1990. Notoriously so. Only recently have exgay groups started to question whether he is appropriate, and I think the history shows what is motivating them to do that.
Clue: it certainly isn’t because everyone suddenly realised in 2006 that this new man was weird and a menace.
Starting with the revelation that Cohen had been dumped by the ACA — that was Wayne Besen by the way — several interviews this year have revealed all to the public… and Cohen has been sidelined.
Now… the big question is… if Cohen has been like this since at least 1990 (as his book clearly spells out), why did it take 16 years for his closest working collegues to suddenly think he wasn’t someone to be hanging around with?
Until recent times Cohen WAS heavily promoted by both Exodus and NARTH (eg here or here, you’ll find him and them all over the place!). He was the President of PFOX.
His “techniques” apparently didn’t bother them in the past. Didn’t bother them for 16 years in fact. So… why would it bother them now???
It would seem that bad PR means more to Exodus, NARTH, PFOX et al than what their collegues are actually doing to people.
The categories of “homosexual,” “heterosexual,” and “bisexual” are incredibly misleading.
When someone goes into therapy wanting to be “heterosexual,” the first thing a therapist should do is to analyze the patient objectively, find out what his mental processes are, etc., before hastely assigning any label to the person.
So if we find that the man has same sex attraction, the next point of business is to try to understand those feelings from an objective point of view. Also, the therapist is obligated to relieve the patient of any guilt/anxiety regarding those feelings. So if a person is hating himself for having same sex attraction, the first thing any responsible therapist should do is to remind him that he is not a bad person for having those feelings, and that those feelings don’t make him less of a person (or a christian).
Now, could those feelings be due to some intrauterine event when the patient was still in his mother’s womb? Certainly. But this is just a possibility. Alternative explanations can be explored if the patient wishes. There have been SOME instances where the same sex attraction has been the result of psychosocial influences, and by exploring these possibilities, I’ve seen patients increase their heterosexual feelings, while decreasing their homosexual feelings.
The APA states that different people become gay due to differing reasons. Going by this, I reasoned that intrauterine, biological event may account for the rigid, kinsey 6 and beyond homosexual. However, for others, psychosocial factors may play a larger role.
So when Richard Cohen suggests that he make any gay guy go straight, it makes me scratch my head, for I do not think along the lines of those concepts.
Ed: No, he is not. Nor is he President of the PFOX board any more either. Exodus has distanced themselves from him as has NARTH. Put his name in the search engine for this blog and you see some more things that will ring your bells.
Please, Please, PLEASE tell me that Richard Cohen is NOT an Exodus affiliate or spokesperson!
I tried both versions…the written and the audio…and it only got worse. It has all my alarm bells going off at once. I can’t even articulate a response!
Wow. He really said it. Amazing.
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