I think ACA violated its policies so I complained

On Wednesday, I sent a letter of complaint to the American Counseling Association along with over 400 of my closest colleagues (getting close to 500 by now, in part thanks to the American Association of Christian Counselors). In brief, I believe the ACA violated Policy 301.7 when the ACA Ethics Committee said

There are treatments endorsed by the Association for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues in Counseling (see http://www.aglbic.org/resources/competencies.html), a division of the American Counseling Association and the American Psychological Association (see http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/guidelines.html) that have been successful in helping clients with their sexual orientation. These treatments are gay affirmative and help a client reconcile his/her same-sex attractions with religious beliefs.

Policy 301.7 states:

Policy 301.7

Policy and Role on Non-Consensus Social Issues of Conscience

Having respect for the individual’s values and integrity in no way restricts us as individuals from finding legitimate avenues to express and support our views to others, who decide and make policy around these issues.  To this end, it will be ACA Governing Council policy to encourage its members to find and use every legitimate means to examine, discuss, and share their views on such matters within the Association.  We also endorse the member’s right to support social, political, religious, and professional actions groups whose values and positions on such issues are congruent with their own.  Through such affiliations, every member has an opportunity to participate in shaping of government policies which guide public action.

To truly celebrate our diversity, we must be united in our respect for the differences in our membership.  To this end, the role of the Association in such matters is to support the rights of members to hold contrary points of views, to provide forums for developing understanding and consensus building, and to maintain equal status and respect for all members and groups within the organization. Following this philosophy, the Governing Council considers it inappropriate for this body to officially take sides on issues which transcend professional identity and membership affiliation, and which substantially divide our membership, at least until such time that there can be a visible consensus produced among the membership.

Approved: 7/15/90

Now read this full Ethics Committee opinion and see if you think 301.7 is violated. I suspect my readers will break along ideological lines but, in my mind, this is just one of several issues where ACA has taken positions in absence of consensus.

The Alliance Defense Fund is also supporting my view of the situation with this letter. President Brian Canfield contacted me to say that the issue will be brought before the ACA Governing Council at the March meeting. Just to be clear, I am not taking issue with the responsibility of the ACA to identify questionable treatments but I am disturbed by their assertion that one religious view should be preferred over another by counselors.

The ADF just put out a press release on this matter.

NOTE TO READERS REFERRED FROM OTHER BLOGS: The insinuation that this complaint has any relevance to the Winnepeg “counselor” who used “holding therapy” to initiate sexual assault is false. In fact, I wish the ACA would explicitly prohibit holding therapy and have written frequently on that subject here. However, the ACA should not favor one religious resolution over another on matters where research consensus does not exist. We asked the ACA back in July for some discussion and clarification on this and we had no official response. I will have more to say about that in a future post. However, to suggest that what my complaint asks for is freedom to do “holding therapy” is absolutely false and misleading and should be corrected.

58 thoughts on “I think ACA violated its policies so I complained”

  1. Wow. Suffice to say that people will interpret scripture differently than you James J. I doubt you and I would agree on scipture. I doubt that all the people in one denomination will agree on scripture – it is a very personal relationship between one person and God. It is for you to decide and interpret how you will live. And in the end it is between you and your God and no one else.

    Your fight is with yourself – not with others.

  2. concerned wrote,

    That is assuming that you know what it is that the religion is really saying about you. Perhaps it is your interpretation of what the religious group is saying that is faulty not the religion itself.

    I’ll make it very simple.

    Anyone who says, “homosexuality is a sin” will watch me punch holes in their faith and slaughter every single one of their sacred cows. Every sacrament, every precious religious belief, will be relentlessly and mercilessly mocked in front of their eyes and in front of their sky god. My primary weapon will be the Bible and I will remain firmly grounded in scripture in everything I write.

    Don’t like it? Then immediately drop the “homosexuality is a sin” thing. Otherwise, LET’S FIGHT!!!

  3. J.James,

    That is assuming that you know what it is that the religion is really saying about you. Perhaps it is your interpretation of what the religious group is saying that is faulty not the religion itself.

  4. J. James–

    That makes sense if you’re going after a particular denomination or a specific local church, but if the only thing you know about these attackers is that they are Christians, won’t you end up attacking a lot of people who don’t subscribe to the offensive viewpoint? Many of the gays who blog here are professed Christians and deeply religious; if you simply attack religion, you would be attacking them and their beliefs as well unless you found a way to make your attacks more targeted…more precise. (I’m not militaristic, but a direct hit is generally more effective than a ‘scatter bomb’.)

  5. The way to make this better for gay people is to aggressively attack the religion of those who want to do us harm. If they say, “You’re attacking our religion!” then that means we’re on the right track.

    Think about it. If the “objection” (namely, “gays are evil and should be destroyed”) is based in their religion, then shouldn’t we attack the problem at its source?

  6. Warren: This evening, I felt that I should spend some time on this thread. As a fellow believer, I think it is important that we try to ‘carry each other’s burdens, and thus fulfill the Law of Christ.” So, I spent a bit of this evening reading all your links.

    Outlining all the links, then trying to understand the posts, was a bit like reading threads in a rather complex tapestry. After praying, and asking our Lord for insight, I think two threads stood out to me, followed by one hypothetical test. I hope these thoughts are of use to you. If not, then please accept them as an attempt to help.

    Thread 1. Your letter stated the following assertion:

    On point, in the assertions above, we are troubled by statements that we believe stigmatize religious practice and traditional religious beliefs and specifically Christianity.

    I did read the entire Ethics Committee Opinion (ECO). I then asked myself ‘how would I feel if IBM used the same language in one of their statements?’ I then concurred that the specific references to Christianity should be removed from the ECO. Indeed, I would consider removing references to Buddhism, atheism, or agnosticism (if such were used) in order to enforce a neutral point of view/ neutrality-of-language.

    Thread 2. Your letter also stated the following assertion:

    Essentially the entire opinion discourages counselors and clients from attempting to do anything about homosexual desires except affirm them.

    Again, I studied the ECO. As an outsider, I did not reach the same conclusion as your second assertion.

    I noticed that the ECO goes into great lengths to describe an ‘escape clause’ for counseling professionals that wish to honor their client’s request for ‘conversion therapy’. The ‘escape clause’ is the ‘informed consent’.

    The informed consent consisted of 5 requirements. After reading those requirements, and your post/links/letter, I understand that you have concerns that Informed Consent #4 and #5 are weak requirements.

    I would therefore suggest that you seek a level of reconciliation with the ECO, specifically requesting the change in language (removal of religious references), and further strengthening of Informed Consent #4 and #5 (or their removal, if they cannot be strengthened).

    Hypothetical test using ‘prayer’:

    Quick background:

    – I think of ‘prayer’ as primarily a religious activity, with collateral effects in the soul (psychological) and body (physical) dimensions. Thus, I thought it best to test the ECO, using an extremely ‘religious’ activity.

    – As a Christian that has GID and PTSD, I did seek religious counseling and non-religious counseling. The first was politely declined by a trained Christian psychologist (I was outside his area of expertise as a bi-sexual and a transgender). I understood his position, and thanked him for his consideration. Later, my attempts to seek God via meeting with an Evangelical pastor (outlined in the other thread concerning Christianity Today) caused me severe emotional damage – so, I abandoned religious counseling. And thus, I attended apparent non-religious professional counseling.

    So, let’s create the hypothetical test:

    Let’s say that I desired not ‘conversion therapy’, but that I desired ‘prayer’ during my counseling sessions with the apparently non-religious professional. What if she had initially declined, but was willing to give me Informed Consent #1, #2, and #3 as outlined by the ECO? What if after that, she was then willing to pray with me for healing from the GID and/or PTSD? [Or, she could have referred me to another professional that would give counsel and prayer, right?]

    I think I would have been quite satisfied, really. After all, prayer was and is important to me, and she [the professional and licensed counselor] wished to honor my desire as a religious client. And, by using the Informed Consent she had clearly signaled that I had requested a religious action known as ‘prayer’, and not a psychological therapy endorsed by any of her professional counseling/certifying agencies.

    Allow me to further complicate things in this hypothetical example:

    Within my belief system is also Second Corinthians chapter 12, which allows for God to heal or to deny healing. My praying for healing until God confirms that He will not heal, and then accepting His decision, is also a strong part of my belief system. Thus, it is possible that I would have asked for three ‘seasons’ of prayer.

    In concluding my hypothetical test, I then ask myself ‘would I have been satisfied with three readings of the Informed Consent, one for each ‘season of prayer’?’ And yes, I would have been satisfied.

    Warren, in your letter you wrote:

    We respectfully ask that the ACA Executive Committee void this opinion since it violates longstanding ACA policy.

    In light of my limited understanding of your situation; in light of the two threads I followed (above) and the hypothetical test case (wherein I substituted ‘prayer’ for ‘conversion therapy’); I offer that you prayerfully consider that a ‘void’ of the Ethics Committee Opinion may not be necessary for reconciliation and/or peace with the ACA.

    However, an edit of specific religious references, a strengthening of Informed Consent #4 and #5 (or their removal, if they cannot be strengthened), may be all that is needed to protect the counselor, and allow avenues of religious activity for the religious client and his/her (consenting) counselor.

    May our Lord Jesus give you wisdom in this matter, as you seek to be a ‘peace maker’ per Matthew chapter 5.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  7. Eddy,

    You’re absolutely right – I meant to say that MAYBE this indicates we are growing as a society – I did not mean to be so sure about it :). I agree with you wholeheartedly, but I think there are other signs that indicate our society is maturing – but there is still quite a ways to go.

  8. Jayhuck–

    The fact that these two boys didn’t seek counseling may be praiseworthy but it’s illogical to conclude that it indicates our society is maturing. Gay youth have been embracing their homosexuality for decades without feeling the need for outside counsel. None of my gay friends from high school sought counseling and that was nearly 40 years ago! These boys didn’t seek counseling…that’s about all we know. We can speculate but we can’t draw conclusions based on what we know.

  9. I for one am very happy that those boys didn’t even think about a need for counseling – that shows that we are growing as a society – When gay people don’t see the need for counseling anymore than heterosexuals do for their sexuality. Perhaps gay people have arrived – or are getting close anyway? 🙂

  10. Evan,

    Of course our scientific concepts are limited – but we have to work with what we have 🙂 And sometimes an Apple is just an apple 😉

  11. Again – I’m only talking about healthy orientations here – and heterosexuality and homosexuality are NOT diseases – so they shouldn’t be giving you any indigestion.


    I only made a comparison. You’re jumping to conclusions already.

    You know, apples are not what they seem they are. 🙂

    I happen to think that our scientific concepts are very much linked to our time and limited as such. Empirical science practice is not the end of it all and has serious limitations. Think about it. Scientific society is a type of society… 😉

  12. One more thing.

    I did not say that those boys should consider counselling. I actually said they don’t even bother thinking about whether it might exist, given the context. I think there is a sizeable difference between these two assertions. At least, that was my intent.

  13. Evan,

    Again – I’m only talking about healthy orientations here – and heterosexuality and homosexuality are NOT diseases – so they shouldn’t be giving you any indigestion 😉

  14. Jayhuck,

    If not having any bias means doing whatever feeling might come to pass through my head, then I do have a bias from time to time. You know, it’s like I love eating apples but they give me a moral indigestion, so you could call me biased against apples… 🙂

  15. Evan,

    If scientists are right about women having a greater degree of both-sex attractions, why are there fewer gay/bi-identified women than men, who are suposedly less same-sex attracted? Do they react differently to their sexuality, to society, to any idea of duty? As far as I can notice, young people feel more inclined today towards a duty to follow their feelings. I wonder if their problem right now is available neutral counselling. They seem to have less and less doubts as to who they are. After all, it has the scientific seal of approval.

    There are many answers to this. It could be that women are just more willing to admit to having bisexual attractions than men are – and in this society especially, that’s not that hard to believe. It could simply be a matter of how they identify themselves – even if women are more prone to bisexuality – and I still don’t think that has been proven anywhere – than it may just have to do with how they identify themselves. Perhaps those women with bisexual tendencies prefer to identify either as straight or gay depending on where their primary attractions lie?

    Those boys you mentioned above should be able to follow their feelings in the same way that straight boys would. What I find interesting is that simply because they have homosexual feelings, you start talking about counseling – when homosexuality is no more a disease than heterosexuality. Is your bias showing again? I’m wondering

  16. Policies and politics produce results in all areas of human life. We can see that in science and professional practice too. You have your policy and politics of labels and prefabricated identities as outlets for certain feelings and you will see more people relating to that either in a positive or negative way.

    Anyway, I just exchanged a couple of emails with a man who is the father of two boys, his only children. One is 18, the other 17 years old. They just told him they are gay and want to get into relationships with other boys. Today it’s really simple. No questioning, no doubt. It’s out there, they feel it, they go for it.

    This issue of counselling policy neutrality must look really passe to people from this generation, like it’s for some group of bigoted people.

    If scientists are right about women having a greater degree of both-sex attractions, why are there fewer gay/bi-identified women than men, who are suposedly less same-sex attracted? Do they react differently to their sexuality, to society, to any idea of duty? As far as I can notice, young people feel more inclined today towards a duty to follow their feelings. I wonder if their problem right now is available neutral counselling. They seem to have less and less doubts as to who they are. After all, it has the scientific seal of approval.

  17. BTW, I went to the TRUTH WINS OUT website where they posted videos that purport to show why ex-gays are frauds.

    What can I say ?

    These videos are full of irrational arguments, false premises and errors I could hardly count them.

    First of all if we follow their arguments to their logical conclusion, thieves, liars and drugs addicts could never claim to have been rehabilitated because it would be simply “denying who they are”.

    What nonsense.

    These things are no different than homosexuality which not only according to the Bible is a sin which can be overcome…but even if a person doesn’t believe the Bible a child can see that homosexuality is an aberration, and violation of the natural biological design of sexuality.

    It’s wrong no matter how you look at it.

    Furthermore their claim that homosexual has been declared “normal” and that professionals agree it is not a disorder is based on an APA position that wasn’t reached UNTIL gay rights activists protested and harassed them and basically demand places in on the APA board which made the decision and then forced the change in position.

    Again, I couldn’t even get through the first video because there are SO MANY things WRONG with what these people are saying there’s hardly time to address them all.

    My personal view is that ANYONE can be affected/influenced by the gay lifestyle and it is possible to be “straight” in one instance and then as a result of some crisis in your life, or association with other people, be influenced to become “gay”.

  18. Dr. Throckmorton is already being attacked by the gay lobby.

    Here’s one really vicious article :



    ‘Ex-Gay’ Quack Therapists Declare War

    by Wayne Besen

    Dr. Warren Throckmorton, the shamelessly self-promoting “ex-gay” therapist, has stepped up his holy war against gay people. This week, he organized a pack of fundamentalist quacks to file a formal written complaint with the American Counseling Association. Throckmorton’s crew is upset because they believe the ACA is inhibiting their ability to destroy the mental health of gay and lesbian people in the name of religion. They also believe that they have the special right as fundamentalists to use bizarre techniques and ignore normal therapy guidelines.

    What is so morally distasteful and ethically disgraceful about Throckmorton is that he is taking this measure without offering a shred of evidence that his shame-based therapy model works. What Chutzpah! How can he credibly complain to the ACA without offering multiple “success” stories by people other than those who get paid to say they have gone from gay to straight?

    Indeed, the ACA should launch a full-scale investigation against the good doctor. He works at little Grove City College, a fundamentalist school in a rural Western Pennsylvania town of merely 8000 people. The truth is, you probably could not find 250 farmers, no less gay people in need of ex-gay therapy in this neck of the woods. To no ones surprise, this brain-twisting blowhard has yet to produce on-record accounts out of his large pool of supposed clients. Clearly, he is either exaggerating the number of clients or his therapy is a monumental failure.


  19. Mark,

    Unlike Lambda though, the ADF works to create disharmony rather than respecting all views and working to curb harassment. The ADF was responsible for supporting a student or maybe even more than one who wore anti-gay t-shirts in a school setting where such shirts would have denigrated a group of people – I don’t see how a group like that can be compared to Lambda that works so that a small minority of people can be given EQUAL rights.

  20. Mary,

    I’m probably beating a dead horse – and you may even know this, but of the one study I read on Wikipedia, it is remarkably accurate and comparable to other non-online encyclopedias such as Britannica-sp?. It does, as someone said above, have a way of editing itself (through the use of internal editors) that is unique but effective.

    So while anyone CAN put information up there, inaccurate information will either be flagged or taken down. I’ve been using Wikipedia for years and have yet to run onto any information that wasn’t accurate. Information that is merely someone’s opinion is either labeled as such (as when they list the arguments for or against an issue) or its removed.

  21. I would not blame these pranksters for incorrect information on Wikipedia. Wikipedia has been used in such a manner on different topics. Exgays for one. The information is usually a collection of thoughts – and thus not a good source of reality.

    Lily Tomlin “Reality is something that alot of people get together is decide is reality”

  22. Dr. Throckmorton. Regarding your statement :


    RE: Wikipedia. Anyone can edit those articles. I certainly am not best known for that quote but someone who doesn’t like me insists on adding it. I suppose someone else will just remove it.


    I checked with Wikipedia and that statement was added, removed, added and then removed again. In the article’s current state, it is gone but there is no guarantee that it might not be returned by the same vandals who added it in the first place.

    I concur with David Roberts ( above) when he says that the Wikipedia article needs more seasoned editors to take a look. It looks like it has been put together by past and present students of Grove City College (and if I know these students, I believe that there are a group of these kids ( past and present students) of Dr. Throckmorton ) who vehemently disagree with his ideas about sexual identity and want to make Dr. Throckmorton say things he never meant (in other words, to make him look like a fundamentalst anti-science caricature ).

    Grove City might be known for being conservative, but there are many pranksters in this school and a quick look at the History of posts in the college’s Wikipedia article will tell you that there have been vandalistic paragraphs added to the Grove City article which had to be cleaned up in the past.

    I would not be surprised to find the same things happening to Dr. Throckmorton’s article in Wikipedia.

  23. Regarding the Wikipedia article, there are far more problems with that thing than an out of context quote. Wikipedia is actually pretty good about self-correcting errors, and more experienced editors will step in if an article is manipulated too much in either direction. However, I think the quote from CT deserves to be referenced, along with Warrens’ comments about it if necessary. If the statement is truly that far off, CT should be asked to retract. In the absence of that, “putting it in context” is not going to do much good.

    It is perfectly reasonable for people to question if Warren is saying one thing to a group sympathetic to one view, and something else to another. I found the CT quote disturbing, and have not heard what I would consider adequate explanation of it yet.

    As for the Wikipedia article, it seems to have been created within the last couple of months, and yet the information in it is quite stale and, in some cases, appears like an endorsement. It needs work. We are requesting more seasoned editors take a look.

  24. Eddy – My reaction to the article is in the Transgender Moment post. I was quoted but I believe the context for my comments was missing so that it sounded pretty harsh.

    RE: Wikipedia. Anyone can edit those articles. I certainly am not best known for that quote but someone who doesn’t like me insists on adding it. I suppose someone else will just remove it.

  25. James–

    Wikipedia can be a lot like watching a television dramatization. Based on ‘real incidents’ but spring off from there. The fact that this piece keeps appearing and disappearing is evidence that the contributors don’t yet have their facts right. In the bit that you shared only one portion is actually ascribed to Warren.

    “we can’t set aside teachings of the Bible because of research findings”

    I believe the lead-in statement from Wikipedia is insupportable. Who has measured just how Warren is best known? And how on earth can he be best known for a quote that’s only just been published?

    The statement that follows Warren’s words from the Wikipedia quote beginning with the word “indicating” also seems to be someone attempting to add to his words.

    With that said, have you followed any of the links on this page that reveal more of Warren’s interests and philosophies?


    Did you even know you were quoted in this month’s Christianity Today? I can’t believe you didn’t link us…or, if you did, I can’t believe I missed it.

  26. Dr. Throckmorton,

    I wonder if you are aware that there is a Wikipedia article created for you ….

    See here :


    There has in the past few days ( I notice) an ungoing post that seemed to be put up and then deleted that claims to say that you are best known for the following beliefs ( this post has been deleted but might just show up again ) :

    Dr. Trockmorton is best known to the general public for his belief that “we can’t set aside teachings of the Bible because of research findings” (Christianity Today, Feb 2008), indicating that he places religion ahead of either scientific findings or individuals psychological status.”

    Could you kindly comment either here or on a subsequent blog whether this represents your personal view ?


  27. Jayhuck–

    I could live with ‘post gay’—we’ll need signed statements ahead of time that noone ever calls it ‘going postal’:-)

  28. I’ve read the materials a couple of times, including Warren’s cite. I just don’t see a dire issue. The situation described seems incredibly fair and neutral, unless one demands there be an obvious, blatant, conservative Christian bias in the code. And of course, this is the narrow segment of “religious liberty” for which the ADF plays bully.

    Personally, I think this action will unravel a lot of good will which has been built up in Warren’s favor – I think it is happening right now. I know it has affected my view. The rather blatant legal threat by the ADF on behalf of their client, Warren Throckmorton, quite frankly makes me nauseas. This is not an issue that needs the masked man to ride in on behalf of all the frightened therapists and save the day.

    There is little doubt in my mind that the proper thing to do would be to drop this as quickly as possible, and admit that it just wasn’t a good idea. If it means anything at all, this announcement has left me very disappointed.

  29. The ADF is a conservative Christian non-profit group that often seems, in my opinion, to be about imposing conservative Christians values on those who don’t agree with them or in situations where they would cause distraction and problems rather than a group that fights for religious liberties. They don’t fight for all religions as someone almost implied above by talking about such liberties, they have a clear conservative Christian agenda and it seems sometimes that harmony and the good of the whole take a backseat to its specific kind of Christian agenda.

  30. Mary,

    Yes I have talked to him about this.


    I still struggle to understand why, since this IS a religious issue as you mentioned, it isn’t being handled primarily by clergy? I mean, I know some people that solely see clergy about their SSAs, but why bring religion so far into a profession that is supposed to be more objective and scientific? I know we’ve discussed these issues before, but wouldn’t trained religious clergy be more appropriate to deal with these issues than a secular body? Wouldn’t it also be much less problematic? I mean, you see the difficulties every day of trying to mesh certain people’s religious beliefs with what is primarily a scientific profession. I’m just thinking out loud again.

  31. I would be inclined to employ the likes of the ACLU because they have typically been used by liberals. It is clear that a case can be made here and I’d bet someone there would take it up.

  32. Warren said:

    The ACA Ethics Comm. opinion assumes a religious and professional consensus that does not exist and should be set aside in keeping with ACA policy.

    I see nothing in the opinion you cite that supports this claim. The portion you quoted in your initial post doesn’t. So perhaps you could put into your own words what you think they are claiming there is consensus about and then highlight the portion(s) of the opinion you think says that.

  33. David – I will not discuss completely in public yet what I or others might do. I wrote the ACA in July which led to promises of a task force to examine the issue from an empirical perspective. Dr. Canfield did appoint that task force and then promptly ended it. He thought he had the support of his Executive Committee but found out after the committee had been appointed with representatives from religious and GLB groups (I know these are not mutually exclusive but in practice that is how it worked out) that he did not. His efforts to get a task force to empirically and fairly examine the issues raised was not supported. We had no official response from ACA. From our vantage point, it is not at all clear that religious liberty is safe in ACA or other mental health professions.

    There is no formal complaint mechanism in ACA so my letter is an attempt to re-start the task force and indicate to the ACA that there is sufficient interest in the issue to warrant a review. There is no way for the membership of ACA to bring grievances to the Governing Council or to ask for a review of potential policy breeches (as I believe has occurred with the Ethics Committee opinion). So if there is some legal remedy for a member of a professional body to have grievances and disputes heard, I will leave that option open.

    The involvement of the ADF derives from their mission to protect religious liberties. They describe to me recent cases where religious liberties are threatened. I do not have the details on these cases, although I am aware of a couple of cases that I believe are serious problems. I am not taking this action in a vacuum, there is a series of events going back to my term as President of an ACA division which have led me to this point.

    Be assured that I am not advocating for professional endorsement of reparative therapy; I believe some reparative therapists may be operating outside of ethics codes by informing clients that homosexuality is a mental disorder and that it may be cured by applying psychoanalytic techniques. Currently the consensus professionally is that homosexuality per se is not a mental disorder and there is no mental health reason to attempt a cure. However, there is no religious consensus about homosexuality. Also, there is no consensus that people who disagree with homosexual behavior should be encouraged to change their beliefs. The ACA Ethics Comm. opinion assumes a religious and professional consensus that does not exist and should be set aside in keeping with ACA policy.

  34. Warren,

    Not to rile anyone up, but I would be interested in your answer to David’s question too.


    Regarding therapy – I’ve said this a few other times, but just because a client wants something or feels that it might be in their best interest to have something doesn’t mean it IS in their best interest to have it. I’m glad in your case that you were able to find what it was that made you happy/content, but because the research is still out on change therapy – whatever type it might be – when a client walks in a says thats (change therapy of some sort) what they want does not mean it should be handed to them right away. I think Warren would agree with this too – the therapist would have to question the client and do some research to find out WHY they wanted to change. If the client is wanting to change because they’ve had bad experiences with relationships, or because they think they’ll be happier being straight and married because that’s what our society says, or for any other number of reasons, then they should be discouraged from trying such therapy because it most likely won’t have any impact.

  35. Does the ADF’s involvement in this serve any purpose other than intimidation? Are you planning to sue the ACA if they don’t comply?

    Warren, did you miss my questions? Could you respond?

  36. To set the record down, my therapist does not do holding or touch therapy and does not believe in it. Not all therapists who decide to help those with unwanted same sex attraction are in the like of Richard Cohen or those who have been prosecuted for molestation.

  37. Agreed Warren. As a person with unwanted same sex attraction – I felt that the professional support of someone who honored my religious views to be beneficial. I find that I would have experienced far more distress had I been responded to in the way as has been described in the scenario.

    I did interview other therapists at one time to possibly make a change. One of them was sooooo gay affirmative that I had to tell her several times that while I respected her opinions – those were not mine and did not find that giving up my God was in my best interest. To say the least she was surprised. I was floored by her assumptions. She was never interested in my well being and only in 1) either protecting her job, 2)her own agenda 3)or her perspective and none other. Not sure to this day which one she held.

  38. The ACA is discussing people who wish sexual reorientation. However, they go over to taking religious sides via the points in the Ethics Opinion we point out in the letter. And in a new version of Just the Facts (I will post on that later), they again provide no help for clients who are in conflict over sexuality and religion but will not affirm homosexual identity or behavior. If anyone sees an answer in the Ethics Opinion respect this option, please point it out.

  39. Wayne as usual has distorted the issue by referring to my complaint as an attempt to support strange practices. Wayne knows as well as anyone that I have turned my attention to those who do holding therapy, label gays as inherently disturbed and use junk science to malign gays as a group.

    However, Wayne helped make and illustrate my point. He clearly is hostile to the religion of many same-sex attracted people. If therapists were to adopt his approach, then not only would they violate their own ethics codes not to discriminate against a client’s religious views, they would effectively eliminate them from their work. He has no answer for religious views he doesn’t like except shut up and go away. I have no intention of doing either one.

  40. Anything about another blog and commenters there is off topic. If you all want to discuss that do so off this blog. I will delete any further references to a dispute on another blog.

    The topic is counseling regarding people who are same-sex attracted and wish to see a counselor who is either neutral or in line with their worldview. The ACA’s stance does not mention them or account for how to address them. And they have made a stance in contrast to their 1990 policy.

  41. We have many ex-gays who have and do comment at XGW Mary. I don’t agree with all they say, but they are consistent in their comments about their lives. You were banned because you failed (over a period of weeks) to address things you said which contradicted other things you said. Your response to the most basic request was to claim fear for your family as a reason for not disclosing, say what era you went to high school.

    Again, afterwards, I became a christians and after that began to have some issues with the same sex attraction again.

    Again, in earlier quotes at XGW I’m almost positive you claimed you never had issues with same-sex attraction after you changed, and this is what bothers me. If we are going to have a serious discussion, you can’t be molding your experiences to fit the point you want to make.


    I’ve posted them here before, quite some time ago, but at that time Mary took to saying I was stalking her because she had moved to this forum when we banned her at XGW. It seems a waste of energy but I will try to find the references again at some point since I have brought it up.

    But back to the original issue, Mary claims that she changed from gay to straight quickly and without any professional or indeed any external help at all, so she could not have gone to a therapist asking to change her sexual orientation. This issue is about such people.

  42. I exist. I am not a paid professional for any group. I do not support all reparative therapy but certainly am going to stand up for my right to recieve professional support.

    While it is true that there are scams out there and really bizarre methods being called “help”. That does not mean that all those who provide professional help are quacks. It means that some are quacks.

    Of course, people such as Besen are going to routinely come into contact with those who have experienced such horrible treatment. I doubt that he would come into contact with someone like myself – who is not paid, who recieves sound therapy, etc`… There would be no use to Besen and his likes to realize that someone like myself exists.

    So, the argument that ALL counselors are quacks, that ALL gays are told that they are going to hell or are demonized (I assure anyone that I had no such experience by my family ) etc, etc, is invalid.

    I remember one time when gays were told they don’t really exist. I believe they do and that some people really cannot change their attractions. And it is too bad that some ex gays try to perpetuate this idea by saying that they were never gay to begin with. Well, I believe differently. And by the same token, I would like to stand up and be counted. Some people do change. We never forget what it was like to be gay or the good times we had during that part of our life. But some people don’t want to continue being gay and some people just change. Some don’t.

    No one can say what the experience is for all of us. And if you are in contact with only those who recieved quack service, religious incantations, etc… then that is all you will know of the experience.

  43. What these so-called “Christian” Counselors want the right to do is pick pocket innocent victims. What they are doing is commiting consumer fraud.

    1) The therapy doesn’t work.

    2) It is greatly harmful to those who participate.

    3) The people “helped” by such therapy do not exist or they are very few in number compared to the victims. Mr. Throckmorton has been unable to provide on-record examples of such success stories. In his video, “I Do Exist” he uses professional ex-gays – including a known-exorcist. Indeed, Mr. Throckmorton’s claim to have counseled hundreds of clients is curious at best and worthy of professional investigation. Where does one find so many gay clients in rural Western PA? Where are the non-profesional “ex-gay” success stories? Show us the money Warren.

    4) For those of us who deal with the victims of such quackery, we repeatedly hear of the bizarre techniques. The excorcisms, the laughing therapy, the touch therapy. The clients are primarily in counseling because they are told they are going to Hell or that they have demon infestation. This is an inarguable fact for those of us who actually deal with the survivors. This is nothing more than shame and guilt disquised as therapy. Indeed. these methods seem to be very common amongst so-called “Christian” counselors. While such methods may be protected as religious practices, they are not counseling and do not deserve to be sanctioned. Thus, the ACA has a right to urge members not to hurt clients using these common techniques. I am not sure why Warren has not turned his concerns towards his fellow counselors who regularly practics such techniques – as they are the most common manner of “Christian” treatment.

    5) The truth is, not all religions are created equal. Christian fundamentalism can be severly damaging to the mental health of gay people. Thus, it is in the interest of ethical counselors to steer people to more accepting religions or none at all – in the interest of their psychological well-being. There is nothing wrong with this, nor is it a violation of freedom of conscience. There must be a separation of clinic and church when the dogma of a church is causing suicides, drug addiction, youth homelessness and severe depression. There simply can’t be a religious exemption to ethical therapy and fundamentalism gets no special rights in this regard.

    The bottom line is Mr. Throckmorton and his friends offer nothing but an attempt to keep the lucrative gravy train rolling. Thus, they are going to lose badly on this show pony letter campaign.

  44. I hit the submit button too so.

    Warren said:

    The ACA can say (and I wish they would) you can’t beat pillows and say it is change; you can’t hold and cuddle clients and say it is change;

    And why should the ACA say these things? What is the criteria for singling out therapists who say “beat this pillow and scream”, but not “pray and be healed”?

  45. Warren said:

    but they should not say, here is the correct religious resolution of your personal conflicts

    and they don’t say that. You are reading far more into what they said. They said here are some recommended treatments (endorsed by the Association for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues in Counseling and the APA). They don’t say these are the only allowable treatments. They don’t say that other treatments are not allowed. They don’t even say conversion therapy isn’t allowed.

    It seems to me that your disagreement is that your (plural) particular therapies aren’t on the “endorsed” list. Which means you should be addressing your concerns to the 2 groups making the endorsements and not the Ethics Committee.

  46. The entire opinion is not a violation. Although extremely poorly written from an empirical point of view (e.g., they quote Nicolosi et al as a support for harm from change therapy!), the opinion has some merits in that there are harmful things done in the name of change and these should be identified and discouraged. However, when the opinion falsely suggests that existing guidance tells us what we need to know in order to address sexual and religious conflicts, it ignores the lack of consensus on how those conflicts may be resolved. Instead, the opinion simply says existing guidance takes an affirming view and ignores those clients and counselors who do not agree.

    The ACA can say (and I wish they would) you can’t beat pillows and say it is change; you can’t hold and cuddle clients and say it is change; but they should not say, here is the correct religious resolution of your personal conflicts. I do not want them to say you should always resolve it in a non-affirming manner either; I simply believe they have assumed a consensus where it does not exist and where the ACA is inadequate to command.

  47. I’m failing to see how the Ethics report is a violation of policy. It appears you are complaining about what the ethics committee said about apples, when in fact they were talking about oranges.

    Your complaint is about general sexual identity therapy, the report was specifically about the case where a client wanted to change from being gay to being straight. Granted this case seems contrived, and they do seem to put a bit too much emphasis on the work by Shroeder and Shidlo, but I fail to see how it is a violation.

  48. A threat to a lawsuit or legal action should never be taken lightly nor should it be said in jest or as intimidation.

    The whole article is distrubing to me because it shows discrimination, bias, lack of value for a client’s religious background and views. In fact, it is almost institutionalized indoctrination being set forth by the ACA. That’s intimidation.

    A counselor may say – my interpretation of conversion/reparative therapy is that change is not a likely outcome of therapy but we can work on how to live in accordance with your religious views and sexual attractions.

    or – I have little regard for conversion/reparative therapy. These are the research papers and reviews that I base my opinion on. There are other opinions and you are welcome to research those on your own.

  49. First point: The client did not say he was mentally ill. He said he wanted to change

    Second point: The counselor says many things about reparative/conversion therapy – mostly negative. Where does that information come from? How come she does not quote alternative views to her own?

    (before we go into a long drawn out dialogue on the validity of research, can we all agree that we have interpreted the research differently and from different perspectives and that the counselor has provided only one opinion?)

    Other points: So many to name

    Final word, this scenario violates the the ACA’s own guidelines.

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