Psychologists to review stance on gays: AP article

David Crary of the AP has an article out today about the APA task force on sexual orientation policies.

In this article, David Crary refers to a letter signed by numerous Christian groups and individuals. I am attaching the letter and signers. This is a broad spectrum of people agreeing to only what is written in the letter here. One possible misinterpretation of the Crary article is that the signers of the letter were seeking APA’s recognition of reparative therapy. Not so. If that were the case, I would not have been involved with this. However, the request to the APA is pretty simple: let’s meet and discuss the same-sex attracted constituents represented by the signers. To regular readers of this blog, this will all sound very familiar.

UPDATE: 7/12/07 – The Christian Post published a follow up article today.

74 thoughts on “Psychologists to review stance on gays: AP article”

  1. Mary,

    It is the Institution of Religion that has the power to impede change – separate individuals, by themselves, do not. To me that makes sense anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Mary –

    I’m sorry – but Sociology lists, as one of religions dysfunctions, its ability to impede social change – that is Sociology talking, not me.

    Religion, as an institution, is made up of people – but I think its fairer to say not all religious people impede social change, but religion, AS AN INSTITUTION, does – I think that is what Sociology is trying to get at – that’s not negating Religions many FUNCTIONS, according to Sociology either

  3. Religion does not impede social change – people who interpret religion impede social change.

  4. ANON2 –

    Those same people consider psychology to be a “soft science” as well. I am in the natural sciences and I used to do that too, but I don’t anymore. I think there are a great many merits to sociology and psychology.

    Every sociologist I’ve ever met has BEEN religious – I think you are misunderstanding them – no one is trying to DISCREDIT religion – no sociologist in their right mind would say that because that isn’t within their field of study or scope – These sociologists that have talked about the dysfunction of religion, also talk about its functions – it is both good AND bad – and we’ve already seen this throughout history, so they aren’t telling us things we don’t already know

  5. Jayhuck,

    It will be interesting to see what sociology books are saying 10-15 years down the line. I know there are people in the science field that look at sociology as a soft science and therefore do not give a lot of credit to what has been printed. I am one of those. I believe many researchers in sociology have been trying to discredit the benifits of religion for many years and I think this is one of the problems I have with it.

  6. Mary –

    I’m not sure how you cannot see the friction that has historically existed between science and religion – religion often tried to bend science to its will – do you remember Galileo? Religion often doesn’t like what science has to say either – just look at Creationists today and what they try to do? Again, this isn’t just about me ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Mary,

    I wasn’t saying religion isn’t a vital or major social institution – but one of the things sociologists have established as a dysfunction of religion, is that it can impede needed social change – it did for African Americans, it has for others, and it is doing that for gay people. I’ve read this in every sociology book I’ve ever seen – It’s not just about ME here ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Science and religion don’t mesh well with YOU. As an amatuer sociologist (just something I like to meander in) I can say that religion is a vital part of most if not every society ever known to man. Hmmm societies do change, perspectives on religion do change (ie: Luther, King Henry VIII, Calvin, Wesly (sp?), etc…)

    What history bears out is that people go into holy wars instead of negotiating a peacful co-existence.

  9. Mary –

    I have a love/hate relationship with these people – MY priest has a degree in counseling and I love him. I’m just trying to look at it objectively – science and religion don’t mesh well – just look at what the Creationists are trying to do. The history of the relationship between science and religion is an awful one.

    And in much the same way that religion affects a counselor’s practice for good, it can effect it for bad – sociologists know that religion, as an institution, can make it difficult to incorporate much needed social change – history also bears this out.

    Do I have a point? Not really – just things to ponder

  10. Jayhuck,

    There are christians who become counselors, therapists, doctors and they do not separate their faith from their life in anyway. Should not a person be allowed to go see that person if they agree on that before hand???

    BTW, did you know that many priests must take courses and earn degrees in psychology as part of their training?

  11. OK – well – I guess they are showing up – I guess its me who doesn’t understand how this blog works ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sometimes I see my posts and sometimes I don’t – sigh – sorry! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Mary,

    I absolutely agree with you – psychologists don’t have to endorse religious or social discrimination, just because someone believes in it, but they can challenge it.

    The technical definition of a cult doesn’t allow that – no – but there are all sorts of groups that believe all sorts of things – and often these beliefs can be harmful for an individual – The Klan comes to mind

    If a person has a problem with a religious issue – faith, belief, whatever – that is a job for a priest or a pastor, not a psychologist – I suppose if you can find a priest or pastor with a counseling degree, that’s even better.

  13. Then Jayhuck there inlies the crux of psychology. You cannot really separate it from a person’s values/faith/belief system. Not even the APA when it was against gays could make me believe them and now that they only support gays- they can’t make me believe them. Hmmmm. You cannot mandate, codify, what a person should believe. You take out free agency – a very significant point of pyschology – you know the thing that makes therapy work.

    BTW, cults don’t allow their people to go outside the group for help – as in the FLDS.

  14. Ann,

    I doubt anyone is ever going to prevent anyone from seeking therapy for their orientation – no one does that now – but I doubt many are going to endorse it

  15. Michael,

    Not sure if you remember me but I wanted to say I hope you find rest and peace during your hiatis – stay well, have fun, and come back when and if you can. I completely understand where you are coming from and want you to know I have learned from you. Take care and God bless you.

  16. wouldn’t it be discrimminatory if they exclude those with unwanted SSA from being treated with any kind of therapy? I am not referring to the radical or conversion therapies, but those needed and wanted like the kind Dr. Throckmorton provides. Perhaps they should select a different name for the therapy if they don’t care for the ones that are being used now. If they do exclude those with SSA and prevent them from treatment, isn’t that cause for another kind of law suit?

  17. Warren,

    I’m sorry, but I have to agree with Boris above. Supporting a person’s particular religious views, regardless of what they are – and simply because they are of utmost importance to that person, would seem to be a bad thing in many situations. I have strong Christian beliefs, but I’m still uneasy about the pairing of therapists and religion.

    Whose religion do you support? Do we then support all, as long as it is important tot he client? What if the religion is damaging them? What about other types of religious organizations like sects and even cults – they are religious – do we support the client who belongs to them? Where do we draw the line? This marriage, of sorts, seems frought with problems.

    Becoming so client centered that you can’t see that what the client wants isn’t often what’s best for them, doesn’t seem right.

  18. Michael,

    I quit blogging twice already…once it lasted about a week; the other time, I made it for two or three. I hope we’re alike in that and that you’ll drop in for a spell every now and again.

    It’s been both challenging and rewarding to ‘spar’ with you here. I’ve learned from you–as I hope you’ve learned from me. It has been quite a ride!

  19. Nick,

    I agree I don’t think the APA should sanction a “must” do model for clients. Clients – though – should have the right to seek such counseling and that should be sanctioned.

    Personally, I would never see a shrink who made promises and requirements of me.

  20. 26 years ago you left your wife after seeing a therapist. I’m wondering in that time – do you think changes have been made in psychology on the whole?? Or are things the same?

  21. Mary,

    Sorry for the confusion. I thought that when you said Just think if I had tried to discuss my changing self with a gay affirming therapist – I would still be trying to be gay and unhappy that we were just thinking about an actual situation when you went for therapy.

    I now realize it was theoretical, along the lines of: just think if I was stung by a bee while juggling porcupines.

  22. Mary-

    I don’t think you understood me. (And I might observe that I am not the first to have made such a remark in responding to your comments.)

    I am grateful to the therapist because at least he was honest about his presuppositions and didn’t waste our time. However, I do not agree with his fundamental approach, which was to insist upon a particular model of pursuing change in sexual orientation, not just in behavior. I can understand why the APA would not want to sanction that approach.

    As I think I made clear, I would have no problem with therapists helping clients pursue their own freely chosen decision to live without acting on homosexual attractions. So I’m happy that you found a helpful therapist who assisted you in pursuing your own goals in that regard. But I think that the majority of organizations represented by the signators to Warren’s letter do not actually follow the model that the letter presents.

    I speak as one who spent 30 years as “ex-gay,” including two years participating in Homosexuals Anonymous, three in an Exodus ministry, and another three years counseling with one of Joseph Nicolosi’s associates.

  23. Warren

    My professional ethics prevents me from helping people to mutilate themselves, reagrdless of the manner of mutilation. And as professional I’m perefectly capale of telling my opinion and that I will not and can not support them in that.

    And you twisted what I said: I find objectionable that the religious dogma of some should dictate the clinical practice of all. So when we’re discussing about the guidelines of APA they should not be dictated by (extremist) religious motives.

    You have also said that: “We work with clients to pursue their chosen values,” and”If they are core, unwavering commitments to their religious belief, therapists should not try to persuade them differently under the guise of science.”

    “Guise of science”? So gay-affirming professionals rae just working under the guise of science instead of applkying best professional practice and methods to their clients? Personally, I feel insulted as a professional.

    WAnd where do you draw the line in “core, unwavering, religious beliefs”? How unhealthy can they be before I or you can do something, instead of affirming something, however harmful?

  24. Warren wrote:

    The request for a meeting was in the cover letter that accompanied this letter.

    Then who, from the list of letter signers, would be involved in such a meeting? There are some names on that list I wouldn’t blame the APA for refusing to meet with.

  25. Wow – NICKC. First you say that such therapist should not be allowed to practice and then say you are quite grateful that one existed and was there to tell you their position??

    And though you had an experience for which you are grateful – what about folks like myself who also have had an experience with quite a different attitude and and different choices and different outcomes?? Except that I TOO am happier and healthier for the experience – just like yourself???

  26. Warren, I’m responding to your comment 37557 above. I find your statements there, like your letter itself, completely reasonable. As you say, what you ask the APA to respect is “not reparative therapy; this is a recognition that humans have the ability to constuct their lives in ways that are compromises between competing demands.”

    You could make a direct analogy to therapists who help Catholic priests struggling with their vow of celibacy. The APA as an organization might believe the Catholic Church is wrong to mandate clerical celibacy. For that matter, the many Southern Baptists, Presbyterians, evangelicals, Lutherans, etc who signed your letter also disagree with the Catholic Church on that point! But I doubt the APA would deem it unethical to help a priest who is committed to his vow. In the same way, you are not unreasonable to ask that the APA not prohibit therapists from helping clients who don’t want to act on their same sex attractions.

    (Disclaimer here: Not being an APA member or a psychologist/therapist of any kind, I actually have no idea how the organization would regard a pro-celibacy therapist!)

    The problem I have with your letter, and what I suspect will trouble some otherwise sympathetic members of the APA, comes back to the list of signators. I will admit that I don’t recognize the majority of names and organizations. But I do recognize quite a few, from NARTH and Exodus and Focus on the Family right through to the Southern Baptists and even the Franciscan Univeristy in Steubenville OH. (My father was once a trustee.) From my experience, these organizations are not committed to the neutral, client-centered approach your letter presents. They are strongly committed to a view of homosexuality itself as a disorder or developmental problem that can be cured or overcome, and they definitely impose that view on their clients.

    I believe these groups would seize on any opening from the APA to advance an agenda fundamentally opposed to the APA’s clear statements that homosexuality is not a mental disease or disorder.

    I can share a personal experience that may explain why I so strongly believe that most ex-gay therapists do not in fact embrace a “client’s own values” approach:

    At the very last point before I separated from my wife of 26 years, I went to see one final therapist. (The eigth therapist I consulted in 12 years!). He was a Christian psychologist in Rockville, Maryland–NOT Richard Cohen!–who subscribed to the belief that homosexuality is a developmental disorder, and that a motivated person can indeed change homosexual attractions and orientation by dealing with his core issues.

    I believe I met with him three times. I explained very clearly to him that, after so much experience with reparative therapy and ex-gay groups, I no longer believed I could change my basic sexual orientation, and wasn’t interested in trying to do so. I also told him that my religious view of homosexuality had evolved, and I saw nothing inherently immoral about homosexuality in itelf.

    BUT–I did love my wife and my first choice would be to stay in my marriage and be faithful to my vows to her, despite my sexual orientation, if I thought it was possible to do that without the many problems I was experiencing. Could he help me do that, understanding I would not pursue a change in my orientation?

    His final answer was no, that he did not think he could help me unless I was willing to commit myself to pursuing “change.” My wife and I separated about three weeks later.

    Warren, based on that experience and all my other experiences with ex-gay therapies and ministries that insisted on imposing their view of homosexuality and their model of change, I would personally urge the APA not to heed the appeal made in your letter. I do not think the APA should leave any opening for therapists who are wedded to the idea that homosexuality is a disorder that clients must attempt to cure or change.

    With that said, let me add that I am actually quite grateful to the therapist described above. Five years later, I believe strongly that the end of our marriage, painful though it has been, was in fact the healthiest possible decision for both my wife and me. I am glad that at least he was honest about his own positions, and spared us what could have been a long round of pointless counseling.

  27. Oh – I did not decide I was not gay (sorry if I said that in some post) I did decide to let myself realize and accept that I am not gay. I decided to leave the gay life behind.

  28. Timothy,

    For the record – yes I was sitting with a group of women and that thought crossed my mind. That is not the beginning nor the end of my journey. It was a turning point.

    No I did not attend therapy to change but along the way I was having some struggles understanding myself (not something that was always with me or present in me but at that time) and why I was having thoughts about another woman. So entered therapy -this was years after having left my gay life behind.

    No I did not beleive in Jesus Christ as my savior at the time of changing ( where I really said to myself – I am not gay) but then accpted Christ years later. Then had struggles and then went to a therapist.

    When reading my comments I can understand your frustration

    When I said “gay and unhappy” I was referring to a what if situation. For example, what if I had gone to a gay affirming therapist and was “coached” into “accepting” my gay struggle AT THAT TIME (not something that is always with me) and was experiencing unhappiness because of such therapy??? As it is – I was able to find a christian therapist with real experience in counseling and who accepted my view that homosexuality is not something I believe God wants for me. She was/is there for me to talk out loud and figure out my thoughts and feelings about myself without giving up my religous faith. I am happier not having to be gay just because it was part of my past or something that did come up or may come up again in the future.

    I hope this helps with clearing things up – if you have more questions – please ask.

  29. Gordo,

    I’m not really sure of the gay police thing either – but I guess gays have gone into places under the guise of wanting help and knowing that the establishment/proprietor/service provider etc… had a different view or opinion of homosexuality and this has caused problems for people/businesses/ other clients etc…

  30. Warren wrote:

    However, the request to the APA is pretty simple:letโ€™s meet and discuss the same-sex attracted constituents represented by the signers.

    I don’t see this in the letter you posted. Certainly sending the letter would indicate you are trying to start a dialog. But in what part of the letter are you saying “lets meet to discuss our concerns?”

    All I’m seeing is you wrote a letter expressing your concerns, and gave 2 recommendations you’d like the APA to consider to address them.

  31. Michael – I hope your break will be a short one as I have very much appreciated your contributions here — even when we disagreed.

  32. I just wanted to thank Warren for his generousity in allowing me to post so freely here for this past year. Beofre then, I was silent about my EXODUS experience from 1979 to 1991 (when “One Nation Under God” came out.) I was silent AGAIN until last year, when I found Warren’s blog and began commenting about EXODUS’s history. During the silent years, I was simpyy too busy grieving the loss of friends and lovers, my best friend’s murder and my parents’ deaths. I was too busy just living life and trying to serve the Lord. Now, I am tired –as I am sure many readers must be with my “relentless rants”.

    So, I want to say that Warren has been very gracious and fair-minded. I genuinely respect him and will always value the discussions we have had. For now, I have decided to take the advice of a number of readers (on this blog and elsewhere) and “go away”. No more blogging for me. It is tiring, frustrating and ultimately pointless. Instead, I will focus on finishing my book and helping survivors of ex-gay programs. I really think that would be a better use of my time and energy. I will leave the “watch-dogging” to youner folks who have more patience.

    Before I sign off, I do want to respond to this: “I suspect many of the readers here who are gay do not approve of all done by HRC, Soulforce, Wayne Besen, etc, but I doubt you would decline to cooperate with them on something you did endorse.”

    You are VERY wrong Warren. If any of these organizations or individuals ever endorsed teasing or ridiculing children into gender conformity, or suggested that blacks were “savages” who were “better off in many ways” as slaves, or used “research” of hate-mongering Naiz-sympathizers I would be OUT in an instant, make my denunciation VERY public — and would never associate with them again. It is a complete disgrace that NARTH continues to do so and that EXODUS conitnues to put up with NARTH. It’s simply WRONG.

    Hasta Luego. Thanks to Eddy, Mary, Timothy and all of the others who have made this a very interesting year for me. God bless you all.

  33. My therapist considered that I might belong to the so called โ€œgay policeโ€ and was very…..

    Mary – I’ve been around the block more than a few times and never heard of the “gay police”, called or so-called. Please enlighten me.

  34. Michael,

    My therapist considered that I might belong to the so called “gay police” and was very, very cautious in the beginning. What a diservice to both of us to be fearful of such antics. Me afraid she is not credible and her afraid that I am not credible. Fear has permeated the industry and people are not being allowed to pursue true care and service without such fear.

  35. David B,

    โ€œSuch efforts – often called reparative therapy or conversion therapy – are considered futile and harmful by many gay-rights activists.โ€

    I think that is safe to say, that many gay-rights activists believe this.

    C’mon David. You do too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think you’d agree that reparative therapy very seldom (if at all) changes actual orientation completely from homosexual to heterosexual. And no therapies have been identified that can be shown to be the methods by which such change (if it exists at all) can be achieved. So, yeah.. they are best described as futile (or at least unreliable).

    And there’s no dispute that they are often harmful. We’ve all heard the stories and met the folks (those that didn’t kill themselves).

    As for NARTH and the APA getting together… ummm, I wouldn’t if I were the APA. NARTH has no ethical base whatsoever. They will say or do ANYTHING.

    however, I do think they could get behind the idea Warren is floating about the brain imagery

  36. Mary,

    My therapy has been a tremendous help to me. Having my sense and place with God and bringing harmony to my life through therapy with those things in mind has been invaluable. Just think if I had tried to discuss my changing self with a gay affirming therapist – I would still be trying to be gay and unhappy.

    With all due respect, this appears entirely inconsistent with things you have said about yourself earlier elsewhere. Your previous story seems to be:

    How I left gayhood: I was sitting in a group of women – all lesbians – thinking, โ€œI wish I could tell them that I wanted to date men but I am afraid they will laugh at meโ€ That stayed on the back burner for a couple of more years and then I just decided that I wasnโ€™t gay!

    and also

    I left homosexuality long before ever walking into a therapy session. Long before I ever became a christian or believer as some would say.


    A few years ago, I did have some struggles and felt uncomfortable. I was lonely, not dating at the time, never sought counseling for why I had been gay.

    and then

    As far as therapy goes – I do go to a christian therapist because I know full well that if you go to a regular therapist, then they are going to try and get you to accept your homosexuality.

    So perhaps you can clarify for us… how exactly would you be “still trying to be gay and unhappy” since you had ALREADY been not-gay for a long time before you decided to seek therapy and since you were able to accomplish this task by deciding it?

    I’m sure you can understand the frustration that some have trying to keep your witness straight. No one is trying to tell you not to “tell your story”. But only if it’s a relaying of factual events rather than a bedtime fairy tale. There’s quite a bit of difference, Mary, between “shut up and go away” and “tell the truth”.

  37. Reparative therapy views homosexual impulses as a means of reparing gender identity. As with all behavior in psychoanalysis the impulse means something other or more than it seems.

    People choosing to live by their beliefs is neutral about what causes the impulses, or what they mean (if anything) more than they seem. Someone could think his gay feelings were 100% genetic but still believe he is best not to act on them. That is not a therapist’s decision. A married K4 person may think, there are times when I really want to live a gay life but I made a commitment to marry and raise children and in the long run, this will bring me the most joy, bring the most glory to God, etc. Despite impulses, some will choose to pursue their commitments. This is not reparative therapy; this is a recognition that humans have the ability to constuct their lives in ways that are compromises between competing demands.

    Call it what you will, I think if the mental health professions seek to become secular priests, there will be a reformation.

  38. Call it what you will, I think if the mental health professions seek to become secular priests, there will be a reformation.

    What no one here will discuss is at what point does the client’s religious belief system become toxic? There is obviously a wide continum between the person who believes but attends church Christmas & Easter, and the Jim Jones follower who moves to Guyana and drinks the koolaid. It seems that a person entering therapy at the various points of this continum would have different issues where belief is involved.

    But in this discussion, why is homosexuality always the problem and beliefs never the problem?

  39. I may not agree with every single position or action ever taken by HRC or Wayne Besen, but I certainly agree with them on broad principles. So I would not hesitate to add my name to a letter or statement they endorsed.

    But if I was asked to sign a letter or petition and saw the Man/Boy Love Association prominently represented among the other signators, I would decline to be included, even if I endorsed the specific statements made.

    When I review the list of signators to this letter, I see names and organizations I regard as the extremist equivalent on the other side. For me, that overwhelms the very reasonable content of the letter itself.

  40. Michael – I may be legal now to work within a client’s worldview but the way the APA task force worded their call for nominations, I am not sure it will continue to be, in the sense of ethics.

    Also read Boris’ comment: psychologists, as a group, are not as religious as the general public. I often hear his view expressed — we want the APA to take religion seriously as a factor in behavior and identity.

    Indeed, the APA’s Rhea Farberman expressed this yesterday in a CitizenLink report: “There’s a growing recognition amongst our membership and our governance that religion is important to many people and an important part of mental health for many people.”

    Wow, it is nice for the APA to notice that.

    On the complaint of guilt by association: If Joe Nicolosi wants to change his mind and support a call for religious diversity instead of a call for the APA to endorse reparative therapy, I am not going to tell him he can’t.

    Gays rightfully do not like to be associated with bad actors who happen to be gay. We here on this blog generally speaking dismiss efforts on the part of some to link homosexuality to bad things done by individual homosexuals. I think the same principle can be applied here. I made a personal choice not to attend the NARTH conference because I did not want my work to be considered reparative therapy or linked with the controversy going on at the time. However, that does not imply that I can never agree with someone from NARTH on something and publicly say so. In this case, some from NARTH agreed with me, not the other way around.

    I suspect many of the readers here who are gay do not approve of all done by HRC, Soulforce, Wayne Besen, etc, but I doubt you would decline to cooperate with them on something you did endorse.

  41. Boris — Your post is exactly what drives me the other direction. For the non-religious, faith and religious belief may seem unnecessary or an appendage. For the faithful, it may be more predictive of behavior than other personality variables that psychologists take seriously as a matter of diversity. Religious belief and adherence is associated with a variety of differences in health behaviors, voting behavior, etc. However, you cannot prescribe it (Get religion so you’ll be healthy), as therapists, we incorporate it into our total assessment of the person and work accordingly.

    If I disregard that is the most important to a particular client, I can count on being of little help to him/her. I may get some satisfaction out of my own view being endorsed by “psychology” or “science” but I may not be helpful to my client.

    If my dogma is completely at odds with client dogma, I better refer.

  42. I really dont get what you guys are asking for. It is already prefectly legal for a therapist and client to discuss the client’s religious beliefs as they relate to any area of the person’s life. The “gay cops” are not going to barge in and bust someone for exploring these issues. What goes on in a therapy room, as long as it is legal, is confidential. If you find a therapist who is antagonistic to your faith, you can find another therapist.

    The fact that Nicolosi signed this letter is reason enough to be suspiscious. Until NARTH disavows folks like Berger, Schoenewold and Cameron, the APA should have nothing to do with this group of signers. You really think the APA should listen to someone who won’t denounce hatemongers and bigots?

  43. David Blakeslee-

    Isn’t there a saying–“You can judge a man by the company he keeps”?

  44. It would seem to me that those such as Nicolosi who signed the letter, see it as a way around the restrictions against “reparative therapies.”

    I’m really having a difficult time understanding how a therapy would be carried out for a client who see their homosexuality in conflict with their religion. If homosexuality is not a psychological disorder to be corrected, then if you simply work upon behavior, do you not have to deal with emotional distress, guilt, etc., from something you may not “value” but something you cannot call disordered (even if the religion calls it such, like the Catholics). How do you deal with guilt if you cannot deal with the source of the guilt, which is not necessarily due to behavior but a deep-seated feeling, a longing or desire of one’s emotions?

    How do you not become reparative? I mean, I’m just baffled because I know myself, at age 52 I should hope I do. And while there was a time I had an extreme guilt in my life, I cannot see that guilt or the Aquinian natural law being anything approxiamating truth. My inner-self simply screams that either is ridiculous. So if you had me in my 20s (and if the present establishment of today existed then you likely would have), how can aligning with values not include a form of reparative therapy?

    Sorry, I just look at my own life and think you’re only helping your client put off the inevitable. But then everybody is different…. eh…

  45. As a mental health professional I find the idea that someone’s religious dogma should guide the psychological or psychatric practice guidelines of all to be absolutely unacceptable.

    If your faith creates problem with your sexual identity seek spiritual guidance then. Do not demand that medical or psychological practice is changed.

  46. Michael,

    You should not be made to feel that you are any more broken than anyone of us – afterall it is a fallen world – we’re all messed up somehow. I’m sure you have areas in your life that you would like to improve in. But you have come to a place in your life that being gay is just fine with you. As it should be.

    I just want to be able to freely go and ask without judgment for help and know that there are real guidelines in place for people of faith – without having to resort to voodoo folks in backwater “camps”. I don’t have much faith that a panel of gay activists are going to hear my voice. Afterall, when I was gay, I thought pooh pooh about people’s religious faith.

  47. Warren,

    In addition to what I wrote above, I guess I can’t say that I completely disagree with Mr Anderson’s quote – “Clinton Anderson, director of the APA’s Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns Office, insisted the panel would base its findings on scientific research, not ideology. He defended the decision to reject certain conservative applicants to the task force.”

    Is it ever a good idea to base findings on ideology? I realize that goes both ways.

    And I have to ABSOLUTELY agree that minors cannot give informed consent and should NEVER be subjected to therapy, regardless of their parents beliefs. They should never be forced into therapy against their will for something that is not a disease or disorder.

  48. It IS interesting that religion seems to be the source of the problem AND the solution at the same time. I have always, even as a devout Christian, been very squeamish at the idea of religion influencing science (or vice versa). MOST of the time when those two meet, the end result is not pretty – we only have to look at history to see that. Religion, most often, desires to bend science, and even society, to its will, and that is often problematic.

    Its going to take quite a bit more work to get to the world I think we all want to be in though. The playing field is far from level for almost all involved, but it is especially uneven for gay people. When gay people have all the rights that other groups do, then I think we will see progress.

  49. David — Of course you are correct that non-religious work with clients to pursue changes in sexuality. The AP article reports on a distinctly religion based argument.

    The coalition has asked for a meeting in contrast to the combative style of NARTH. Now, it is up to the APA to move forward.

  50. Mary, I am not here to defend Wayne Besen. He has a right to his beliefs — just as you do. And, again, other people may say you don’t, but I definitely feel you have the RIGHT to live in accordance with your beliefs. I agree with you that “it should be allowed”.

    That doesn’t mean I have to agree that gays are “broken” or that “fixing” them is a good idea. Therapists have no business telling a client that the client’s religious beliefs are wrong. When I am doing therapy, I keep those personal opinions to myself.

  51. “Such efforts – often called reparative therapy or conversion therapy – are considered futile and harmful by many gay-rights activists.”

    I think that is safe to say, that many gay-rights activists believe this. As they may be active in the APA they may influence the science of psychology without exploring the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of conversion therapies scientifically.

    It befuddles me why neither NARTH nor the APA won’t get together and settle this matter scientifically…it is really very simple. Proving that some people can change and that some cannot and that some are harmed when they try and some are not harmed when they try seems in everyone’s best interest.

    I don’t have much faith that the panel will construct such a research study, as the most prominent people practicing such work are likely to be affiliated with NARTH.

    What a dilemma. I have talked from time to time with my psychoanalytic colleagues (non-NARTH) who espouse a client-centered model for their SSA clients who wish to explore change. These are not religiously motivated therapists. But they certainly are not public about their belief that there is some flexibility in sexual attractions , but are more public about the large capacity for behavioral control of sexual impulses generally.

    By the way, I signed the letter, so call me a bigot…NickC

  52. Eddy — Not any more – that went out with DSM – III-R. However, one may still get counseling for something that is not a disorder per se.

  53. According to the APA, I have a disorder called ego-dystonic homosexuality simply because I believe the Bible says homosexual behavior is sin. I guess I can live with that. What I don’t like, however, is the notion that I have to give up my religious belief on this issue to ‘get well’. It ought to be MY CALL which I give up: my belief or my behavior. And a therapist ought to be able to help and support me on the path of my choosing. If I’m conflicted along the way, they need to bring me back to evaluate my original decision but once again, the decisions and choices are mine.

    A good therapist doesn’t have to believe as I do; they simply have to believe in my right to believe that way.

  54. We constantly hear/read/watch others say how it does not work, causes harm, and to stop it. Read Besen’s website – I am not going to site every example of his and all the comments. And that’s just one place.

    It has not harmed me and it should be allowed.

  55. I think the APA will always shy away from counseling programs or therapists who believe their clients will go to Hell if they don’t reject their homosexuality. The APA will NEVER endorse fiundamentalist religious judgements as science or therapy. It’s not going to happen.

    As for Mary’s comments, EXODUS leaders were “those kind of people” who rejected me, shunned me and told me I would go to Hell. They are stil saying the same thing. “Shut up and go away.” “Your experience don’t matter”. “Your apology was hollow and self-serving”. “You didn’t have enough faith.” You were only toying with your faith.” “You believe in a different Jesus and a different gospel.”. They say this not only to me, but to ALL survivors of “Ex-gay” programs. How’s that for “client-centered”?.

    And, for the record, I have NEVER said “Shame on your therapist for helping you.” NEVER, NEVER, NEVER. Your therapist had EVERY RIGHT to help you. Why do “you guys” keep trying to turn this into a “rights” issue? I oppose what EXODUS is trying to do, but I have NEVER said that EXODUS doesn’t have a right to exist. EXODUS has every right to be wrong.

  56. I welcome any additional evidence that Mary might offer. I do think I have been presenting evidence at least from the American Counseling Association that the association is favorable to a gay affirming religious stance. I can also tell you that I have been told by counseling professors that there is no room in counseling for my perspective. Much of what I have seen is anecdotal but I know it is real. I think gays and those who believe being gay is wrong for them must share common experiences of rejection and marginalization. I have brought up before the NEA convention of 2004 where the gay caucus did tell the ex-gay caucus to go away (literally). However, expressed, it is not a way to network up the ladder in the professions to take the position that same-sex attracted people might align with their faith if they choose.

  57. Mary,

    I hope the APA will also consider the testimony of the many people who have been helped by client centered therapy and programs – and not just suggest that they all shut up and go away, as many gay activist have recently done.

    This is the second time in the past two days that you have made this claim. Please either demonstrate when you (or some other ex-gay) have been told to shut up and go away or stop making this unsubstantiated claim.

  58. Based on the experiences I’ve had with a reparative therapist, who at one time was affilitated with Exodus and who has extensive training and academic credentials to boot…I’m all for anything that will bring guidelines to this “industry”.

  59. ….therapist operating on their own ….

    If the APA allows a more open practice then “…these people …” won’t be operating on their own and there will be some guidelines to follow that will help protect those who sufferred at the hands of those who are ONLY religious and lack real training.

  60. Michael,

    Then shame on the church, shame on your friends. Not shame on my therapist for helping me whom by the way has never shunned me nor shamed me for my feelings. Big difference. Sorry you were surrounded by those kind of people that do that.


    Social conditioning will happen in any society. Mandating social engineering through the APA is absurd from any side – no one should be denied the opportunity to seek counseling that allows you to keep your faith – whatever that christianity, judaism, islamic etc… interpreation happens to be.

  61. I don’t know if Mary was including me in her remarks about “gay activists”, but I have NEVER said that people who have been helped should just shut up and go away. That’s Alan Chamber’s style, not mine. I have NEVER said that “ex-gay” therapies harm EVERYONE — only that no one I know has ever beome STRAGHT through such a process and that many HAVE been harmed.

    At our recent Sirvivor’s Conference, we spent considerable time exploring BOTH the POSITIVE and negative aspects of our “ex-gay” experience. I personally gained a lot through my experience with EXODUS. What I did NOT gain was heterosexuality. When I decided to tell the TRUTH about my experience, I was shunned by the church, abandoned by “friends” and told I would burn in Hell. That kinda harmed me a bit — but I have survived.

  62. Sorry, Warren.

    I thought the letter was reasonable and made valid points. Then I read the list of signators and their affiliations, which is a compendium of religious bigots committed to maintaining every type of social and legal discrimination against homosexuals. For me, the appeal lost all credibility once I saw who was behind it.

  63. Warren,

    My therapy has been a tremendous help to me. Having my sense and place with God and bringing harmony to my life through therapy with those things in mind has been invaluable. Just think if I had tried to discuss my changing self with a gay affirming therapist – I would still be trying to be gay and unhappy.

  64. Mary,

    I hope the APA takes into account the effect that Social Desirability Bias has on some who have decided to seek “help” regarding their faith and their orientation.

  65. Warren,

    Aren’t there many, many therapists out there already helping those with problems surrounding their faith and their orientation? I don’t see how anything the APA says is going to change that much. Theses therapists have pretty much been operating on their own for a long time.

  66. I am pretty sure that the APA is considering a lot of the former and not much of the latter. However, I am not interested in the APA validating anything without research support, but I am interested in the APA respecting religious differences and helping therapists respect those differences in therapy.

  67. I hope the APA will also consider the testimony of the many people who have been helped by client centered therapy and programs – and not just suggest that they all shut up and go away, as many gay activist have recently done.

  68. I hope the APA will also seriously consider the testimony of the many people who have been harmed by ex-gay/reparative therapy programs — and not just suggest that they all shut up and go away, as EXODUS has recently done.

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