Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: When Reparative Isn’t Reparative

Past president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality is trying really hard to distance her organization from history and the organization’s leaders. In an article posted on NARTH’s website, Hamilton comments on her recent appearance on the Dr. Oz show (see my posts on that subject here and here) and makes a case that

…the term “reparative” never referred to trying to “repair” someone. It was originally used to refer to the “Reparative Theory” that when a child does not receive adequate same-sex bonding in childhood, homosexual attractions will develop as a “reparative drive” for those unmet needs.

She is correct here about the term reparative referring to a psychological drive. Proposed by Elizabeth Moberly and Joseph Nicolosi, the drive is not a positive development in reparative theory because the person experiences it in response to a deficit in relationship with the same-sex parent. The drive itself is trying to fix something that the reparative therapist believes is broken. Reparative therapists try to help same-sex attracted clients see that their attractions are futile efforts to repair and fill those unmet needs. While Hamilton is right in her explanation, I don’t think it changes much when it comes to how reparative therapists see homosexuality.  The client is still broken and in need of a different kind of repair than the homosexual reparative drive offers. In what will seem surprising to long time NARTH watchers, Hamilton claims that reparative therapy is just one of many change therapies promoted by NARTH.

NARTH does not use the term “Reparative Therapy” to refer to therapy for unwanted homosexual attractions.

She adds:

In actuality, “Reparative Therapy” only refers to one approach used by some therapists. However, there are many therapists who work with unwanted homosexual attractions, many of whom use combinations of other therapeutic methods. Therefore, a more inclusive term to describe this work would be therapy for unwanted homosexual attractions.

I would like to know what some of those other approaches are. She says they exist but she doesn’t give any specifics. The appeal to a more general terminology for NARTH’s work appears to be part of the recent makeover. NARTH carries this through into their court challenges to California’s new law banning change therapies for minors. In the Liberty Counsel brief, the term “sexual orientation change effort” (SOCE) is preferred. However, in the real world, three of the four plaintiffs in the NARTH case against Governor Brown are reparative therapists – David Pickup, Joseph Nicolosi, and Robert Vazzo. On page 19 of the complaint, Pickup is described as a consumer of “authentic SOCE counseling.”

As an adult, Mr. Pickup underwent authentic SOCE counseling, created by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, for several years.

The only counseling created by Joseph Nicolosi is reparative therapy. In fact, Pickup acknowledges this on one of his websites:

David H. Pickup is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, currently operating his private psychotherapy practice in Burbank, California. He works primarily with men dealing with same-sex attraction through Reparative Therapy, (also commonly called Reorientation Therapy), which was created by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi over the past twenty years . David underwent extensive training in Reparative Therapy for three years underneath the direction of Dr. Nicolosi at Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, California. He now offers expert training in this therapy to other therapists, either in person or via the internet for interns and therapists all over the world.  Reorientation Therapy is his primary focus and life’s work; assisting men and boys in healing their masculine wounds and helping them in their transformation out of homosexuality into heterosexuality.

Later in her article, Hamilton says that

NARTH represents licensed, ethical therapists who practice mainstream approaches to therapy in their offices. When we are talking about therapy, we are NOT referring to unorthodox approaches, nor are we referring to ministries, retreats, residential programs or any other form of help other than conventional therapy offered by licensed professionals in their offices.

Actually, some NARTH reparative therapists do recommend unorthodox methods and retreats. As noted earlier this week, David Pickup recommends the Mankind Project’s New Warriors Training Adventure where nudity is practiced and men are encouraged to run through a gauntlet of men to grab tennis balls or oranges symbolizing their testicles. Tennis racquets are used to beat pillows while visualizing parents or others. These are the kinds of things that have been described as taking place during JONAH counseling sessions in a suit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. To my knowledge, NARTH has not spoken out against these practices. But then how could they? New Warrior David Pickup has represented NARTH in the CA legislature, and on numerous talk shows. While it is understandable that Hamilton wants to portray NARTH as mainstream, the public faces of NARTH in their court cases and media appearances have been reparative therapists, some of whom recommend the very techniques which NARTH says they don’t recommend. If NARTH wants to be taken seriously as mainstream, they need to come out clearly and strongly against catharsis and “guts work” techniques associated with New Warriors and Journey into Manhood. However, I don’t see how they can. The membership numbers would plummet.

UPDATE: There is another case challenging CA’s SB 1172, this one being brought be the Pacific Justice Institute. One of the plaintiffs in that case is NARTH member, Anthony Duk. During the fight over the bill, Duk wrote to bill author Ted Lieu. It certainly seems like NARTH is fighting for reparative therapy given that Dr. Duk is one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

Dear Senator Lieu, As a Vietnamese American psychiatrist, I have seen many young male patients grow up without father figures in a world that is very tough. They end up with lots of abuse (psychological, verbal, sexual, physical) that denies their masculinity and pushes them to have very low self esteem. Without reparative therapy to help them become men and understand their full potential in society as fathers and husbands, they wind up with a false identity of homosexuality and being ‘gay’. Reparative therapy works. It is a process of re-parenting, forgiving past traumas, understanding the self and realizing that one’s purpose in life is and how to contribute to society. Please give me a call to discuss my opposition to SB 1172 if you have any questions. Anthony Duk, MD

More in this series: The Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: No Naked Therapy? The Reparative Therapy Makeover: Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

Uganda Watch: Parliament to Adjourn Until 2013 Without Action on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

According to Parliament spokeswoman Helen Kawesa, Parliament will adjourn today until February 4, 2013. After considering the Accountants Bill, Parliament will begin a Christmas recess with the next scheduled sitting being in the new year. Thus, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill will not have a second reading until at least February of next year.

Today’s order paper is out and lists the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in the section of Business to Follow but today the item slipped to 7th place on the list of matters to be brought before Parliament next year.

New Paper Proposes Epigenetic Pathway to Homosexuality (UPDATED)

I am still reading the paper by William Rice, Urban Friberg and Sergey Gavrilets (available for review here) and have asked several other scientists for their opinion of it.  It is a complex argument but one which initially seems compelling to me.

Here is the abstract:

Male and female homosexuality have substantial prevalence in humans. Pedigree and twin studies indicate that homosexuality has substantial heritability in both sexes, yet concordance between identical twins is low and molecular studies have failed to find associated DNA markers. This paradoxical pattern calls for an explanation. We use published data on fetal androgen signaling and gene regulation via nongenetic changes in DNA packaging (epigenetics) to develop a new model for homosexuality. It is well established that fetal androgen signaling strongly influences sexual development. We show that an unappreciated feature of this process is reduced androgen sensitivity in XX fetuses and enhanced sensitivity in XY fetuses, and that this difference is most feasibly caused by numerous sex-specific epigenetic modifications (“epi-marks”) originating in embryonic stem cells. These epi-marks buffer XX fetuses from masculinization due to excess fetal androgen exposure and similarly buffer XY fetuses from androgen underexposure. Extant data indicates that individual epi-marks influence some but not other sexually dimorphic traits, vary in strength across individuals, and are produced during ontogeny and erased between generations. Those that escape erasure will steer development of the sexual phenotypes they influence in a gonad-discordant direction in opposite sex offspring, mosaically feminizing XY offspring and masculinizing XX offspring. Such sex-specific epi-marks are sexually antagonistic (SA-epi-marks) because they canalize sexual development in the parent that produced them, but contribute to gonad-trait discordances in opposite-sex offspring when unerased. In this model, homosexuality occurs when stronger-than-average SA-epi-marks (influencing sexual preference) from an opposite-sex parent escape erasure and are then paired with a weaker-than average de novo sex-specific epi-marks produced in opposite-sex offspring. Our model predicts that homosexuality is part of a wider phenomenon in which recently evolved androgen-influenced traits commonly display gonad-trait discordances at substantial frequency, and that the molecular feature underlying most homosexuality is not DNA polymorphism(s), but epi-marks that evolved to canalize sexual dimorphic development that sometimes carryover across generations and contribute to gonad trait discordances in opposite-sex descendants.

The Christian Post did a quick piece on this study but did not interview anybody with any expertise about the research. Instead, they reached out to David Pruden who made the following statement:

“The theoretical model itself attributes only 10-14 percent of the factors to genetics or epigenetics. That leaves the remaining 85 percent or so of the factors to environmental influences,” said Pruden.

I don’t see anything like that in the paper so I can’t evaluate what he is claiming here. This sounds like the usual NARTH misreading of the genetic evidence but not the Rice et al paper.

UPDATE: Dr. Rice wrote to say that Pruden’s account is inaccurate. In response to my question: “Are you intending to account for homosexuality whenever it occurs?” Dr. Rice replied:  “Yes, we think that carry-over epi-marks have the potential to account for most homosexuality.” 

More to come…

The Reparative Therapy Makeover: Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

In the complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), there are strange allegations made by the plaintiffs.  One of the strangest is the following from page 16 of the SPLC complaint:

orangesJONAH

In this paragraph, Alan Downing is a life coach who works for JONAH and was until recently recommended by Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. Ferguson is one of the plaintiffs represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center. While some defenders of reparative therapy might think the plaintiffs are making this stuff up, the allegations sound believable to me.

The scenario in the complaint sounds like a description of the “Getting His Balls Back” technique suggested in manuals used to guide the New Warriors Training Adventure as put on by the Mankind Project.  Over the years, JONAH and NARTH leaders have recommended the New Warriors Training Adventure as a means of building masculinity and reducing same-sex attraction so it is not surprising to see the same processes used in their efforts with clients.

The Balls Back process is described in this 2002 manual (p. 12) written for NWTA by Steve Kushner:

BALLS BACK

WHEN TO USE

– He has given up or lost his power, masculinity or balls to someone and he wants it/them back

WHAT TO DO

– Place 2 tennis balls or oranges in Bad Role Player’s hands that are behind his back

– ASK HIM:

“Does he/she have your power, masculinity, balls?”

“Are you ready to take it/them back?”

(Have Bad Role Player bring hands out in front and taunt initiate)

– TELL HIM:

“The time is now, the place is here!” (emphasis added)

And then in this 2005 “Guts Guide” (Warriors call these processes “guts work”) by Martin Lassoff, the process is described in more detail.

2. Getting His Balls Back

When the initiate feels he has lost his courage, power or maleness to someone and wants to get it back, this is referred to as Getting His Balls Back. This process includes a Gauntlet.

Position a man at the end of a Gauntlet holding oranges or tennis balls (symbolizing his balls). (emphasis added)

The Gauntlet is described in the SPLC complaint as a “human chain” which the client must break through in order to grasp the oranges. This achievement is supposed to symbolize the client getting his “balls back.”

A book by Steven Segell which includes a description of a New Warriors weekend also outlines the process:

orangesJONAH2Segell

At 1:25 in this Colbert Report, Michael Ferguson described the technique for CNN (really you must watch the whole thing).

So it seems clear that the “oranges therapy” is derived from processes associated with the Mankind Project, an organization which Joseph Nicolosi, Arthur Goldberg, David Pickup and Richard Cohen have recommended.

Speaking of David Pickup, he told NBC News “I don’t do oranges therapy, and I don’t do naked therapy.” I established last week that as a New Warrior staff member, Pickup has recommended the New Warrior Training Adventure which involves nudity. Now today, I document that the very same “oranges therapy” Pickup said he didn’t do is also recommended by reparative therapists.

Uganda Watch: Anti-Homosexuality Bill Moved Down the List of Business to Come

In what appears to be a good sign, Parliament’s agenda for today has the Anti-Homosexuality Bill moved down to item number 6 on the listing of business to come.  From today’s order paper:

NOTICE OF BUSINESS TO FOLLOW

 1.         BILLS SECOND READING  THE PETROLEUM (REFINING, GAS PROCESSING AND CONVERSION, TRANSPORTATION AND STORAGE) BILL, 2012

2.         CONSIDERATION AND ADOPTION OF THE REPORT OF THE SESSIONAL COMMITTEE ON PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS ON THE PETITION AGAINST ILLEGAL/UNJUST REMOVAL FROM SERVICE AND BREACH OF CONTRACT BY THE UGANDA PUBLIC EMPLOYEES UNION (Chairperson, Committee on Presidential Affairs)

3.        CONSIDERATION AND ADOPTION OF THE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE NATIONAL ECONOMY ON THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY (Chairperson, Committee on National Economy)

4.        CONSIDERATION AND ADOPTION OF THE REPORT ON THE ADHOC COMMITTEE INVESTIGATING THE ENERGY SECTOR (Chairperson, Adhoc Committee on Energy Sector)

5.        CONSIDERATION AND ADOPTION OF THE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL ECONOMY ON THE REQUEST BY GOVERNMENT TO BORROW SDR 87.1 MILLION (USD 135.0M) FROM THE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION (IDA) OF THE WORLD BANK GROUP FOR FINANCING OF THE WATER MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT (WMDP) (Hon.  Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development)

6.         THE ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL, 2012

7.         MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT TO URGE GOVERNMENT TO BAIL OUT SEMBULE STEEL MILLS LTD FROM THE INTENDED SALE OF ITS PROPERTIES

8.         THE PUBLIC ORDER MANAGEMENT BILL, 2012

9.         REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ON THE STATUS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES

10.       REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ON THE AFRICAN SPACE RESEARCH PROGRAM (ASRP)

11.       PETITION AGAINST THE OFFICIAL RECEIVER OF UGANDA ELECTRICITY BOARD (UEB) AND UEB (IN LIQUIDATION) FOR NON-PAYMENT OF GRATUITY

The Accountants Bill is on the agenda for current business as are various petitions and a motion regarding HIV/AIDS policy. Given the pace of action thus far, it appears to me that the anti-gay bill will not considered before the December 15 recess.

 

 

 

Ward vs. Eastern Michigan University Settled Out of Court

Julea Ward was kicked out of the MA program at Eastern Michigan University’s counseling program because she refused to counsel  against what she said her religious beliefs required. She referred a gay student after consulting with her supervisor and the program faculty believed she had violated ethics. She sued over her dismissal and after losing the first round, prevailed on appeal with the 6th Circuit Court. However, rather than defend the expulsion of Ward another time, the University settled the case out of court yesterday with a payment of $75k going to Ward. The Detroit Free Press has the summary. See also Inside Higher Ed.

Since the beginning of the case (2009), I have not commented on this situation because I served as an expert witness on behalf of Ward throughout the case. My interest in the case was not to defend Ward’s decision not to counsel a gay student but rather to preserve the ability of counselors to refer in situations of moral conflict. In recent years, the American Counseling Association has been moving toward a position where counselors are considered to be acting unethically if they refer a client to another counselor for almost any reason. By this standard, if a Christian client wants an atheist counselor to affirm Christian teaching, the atheist should do so and work within the client’s system. One can imagine numerous pairings that would be problematic for both client and counselor. Given that counselors are human beings with ambivalence and biases, I think it is very important for the welfare of clients to allow referral when a counselor is bothered by what seems like a moral dilemma.

Thus, I saw this case as much broader than a gay rights case. Some readers might be surprised that I provided expert testimony on Ward’s behalf. I would not have done the same thing as Ward did. However, counselors who are not ready to work with various populations should not do so without help. Referral must be preserved as an option for the many personal and moral conflicts which can arise in counseling.

The dismissal is here and the 6th Circuit court of appeal decision (note the focus in this decision on referral) is here.

As a part of this case, my approach to these issues (sexual identity therapy) was misrepresented at various levels. I intend to now set those matters straight. More about that to come.

Sexual Identity Therapy is Not Reparative Therapy

I have had to make this case several times over the years but the defensive posture of reparative therapists of late makes it necessary to do it again. As more people are coming against reparative drive theory, reparative therapists are softening and in some cases altering their rhetoric regarding what they believe and what they do. Note my posts here and here.

In a NBC News article last Wednesday, NARTH’s Executive Secretary David Pruden defends reparative therapy with a line of reasoning that doesn’t sound half bad.  He says

“Once people felt less shamed – and I think that’s really positive – there was less a feeling that they couldn’t talk about it,” Pruden said. But those who do want to minimize those feelings, Pruden said, “deserve to have their needs met as well.”

“To say to them, we’re not willing to walk alongside you in your journey feels to me as cruel as the other extremes we used to be at, when people were hurt for saying, ‘I’m gay, and I’m OK with that,’” Pruden said. “In a sense it’s a pro-choice movement – people should have the right to deal with this.”

Walking along side someone in a journey and acknowledging a client’s right to deal with conflict surrounding sexuality seems reasonable and fair.  However, that stance is not what is under attack in legislatures and court rooms around the country. If all reparative therapists did was support clients in exploration of their beliefs and values about their sexual orientation, then they would not be experiencing the scrutiny they are now.

What Pruden describes in this brief interview (and to be fair, he may have said more about change therapy that the reporter did not include) is similar to what Mark Yarhouse and I promote in the sexual identity therapy framework. We walk along side people who are struggling with conflicts involving their sexuality and moral beliefs. We do not offer change interventions and in fact stress that we do not see orientation change as the aim of the SITF.  I indicate to clients that the evidence does not support efforts to change orientation. I respect the rights of people to make behavioral choices in line with what they believe to be right and work with people to move in a moral direction they believe in. However, reparative therapists do so much more than that.

Check out what Joseph Nicolosi believes about homosexuality as stated in the NBC article. He gives the usual reparative narrative about weak fathers and overbearing mothers being the culprit and then to those who don’t want to take his therapy he says:

“We say, fine, you want to be gay, but are you curious in understanding why you’re gay?” Nicolosi said.

Reparative therapists think they know why people are gay and their interventions of building masculinity with journeys into manhood, complete with holding therapy, sports training, etc., are what attracts the ire of opponents. The reparative therapists have a hammer and to them every gay person is a nail. The reparative therapists on the Dr. Oz show last week seemed oblivious to the message being delivered by the reparative drive theory. Reparative therapy begins with the assumption that gays are disordered and in need of some kind of treatment to cure the underlying psychological damage which may (they don’t all promise that the proper therapy leads to complete change) then lead to a lessening of attraction to the same sex.  They compare being homosexual to being an addict, depressed or some other malady.

Walking along side someone does not require what reparative therapists do. Working with someone to work out an adjustment involving religious morality and sexual behavior does not require a belief that same-sex attraction is a disorder or the result of deficient families.

Let’s keep things straight, reparative therapy is one thing and sexual identity therapy is another.

 

 

Uganda Watch: Parliament Passes Oil Bill in Stealth Session

Earlier in the week, Parliament spokeswoman Helen Kawesa told me that Parliament would not meet today (Friday). There is no order paper at the Parliament website. However, the MPs did meet and passed an oil bill that gives much power to the executive branch. Blogger Jim Burroway alerted me to this fact and Reuters has the details:

KAMPALA, Dec 7 (Reuters) – Ugandan lawmakers passed new legislation on Friday meant to regulate the country’s emerging oil sector but critics said the law would invest too much control in the hands of the executive.

The Reuters’ report highlights the lack of transparency which the bill allows.

Burroway believes the Anti-Homosexuality Bill will now distract the MPs and the public away from the bad oil legislation. He believes this is by design and directed by President Museveni’s executive branch. The clearest effect of the action on the oil bill is that it moves the Anti-Homosexuality Bill closer to consideration on the floor. Burroway may be correct when he argues that the anti-gay bill will generate so much attention that most will forget about the power grab just completed by the executive branch with the collusion of the ruling party in Parliament.  It is not that the executive branch actually wants the bill to pass. However, it may be that generating loud controversy over the bill is the real aim.

However, those in Parliament who do want the bill to pass are a step closer to their objective now that the oil bill is out of the way.

 

Uganda Watch: Uganda’s Prime Minister Says Government Opposes the Anti-gay Bill; No Agenda Today

Normally Parliament meets Tuesday through Thursday and so with no order paper on the website, I assume they are not meeting today.

Probably the biggest news on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is the stated opposition of the executive branch of the Ugandan government to the bill by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. This news was reported in the Milano Times (Italy) where Mbabazi was attending a meeting.  According to the Google translation of that page, Mbabazi was confronted with a protest at the meeting and disclosed the government position in response.

Another interesting development is the changing of the order for consideration of the anti-gay measure. As noted on the Thursday order paper, the bill has slipped to second item to be considered after the current business is completed.

The Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: No Naked Therapy?

Last week, NARTH’s Chris Doyle and Julie Hamilton went on the Dr Oz show to defend reparative therapy by portraying it as something other than reparative therapy. This week, NARTH’s representatives carried the makeover a little further in a NBC News article.

There is much I could comment on and may in the future, but in this post I pause to consider an astounding claim is made by David Pickup. Pickup, a one-time supervisee of Nicolosi’s and member of the Mankind Project, claims

“I can say this: I don’t do oranges therapy, and I don’t do naked therapy…”

Pickup is referring to the therapy allegedly practiced by counselors and life coaches at Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (the H used to stand for “homosexuality”). In the complaint brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, former JONAH clients claim that they were asked to remove their clothes for various “interventions” designed to help them bolster their masculinity. There were also some creative uses for oranges in the JONAH program. In his defense against the charge that reparative therapy is all about strange techniques such as described in the JONAH lawsuit, Pickup made his statement about oranges and naked therapy.

Well, I don’t know what Pickup does in his office, but he does recommend a weekend masculinity initiation that involves nudity. For years, Pickup as been a senior staff member for the Mankind Project in Los Angeles as his NARTH 2008 bio makes clear:

David Pickup, M.A., IMF

David H. Pickup holds a Masters Degree in Psychology. He is currently registered with the California Board of Psychology as a Psych Assistant and with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern. David is interning under the supervision of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi at Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, California. His work is centered on young boys who are struggling with Gender Identification Disorder and with adolescents and adult men who are dealing with same-sex attraction. David is a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and is also a Life Coach for men working out of same-sex attraction. He operates The WorkOUT program and website, www.workoutman.org which includes individual and group coaching for men in Los Angeles and in several different countries. David speaks on Reparative Therapy and its practical applications for churches and men’s groups in the southern California area. He is also a senior staff member of The Mankind Project’s intensive weekend trainings for men in the Los Angeles area. (emphasis added)

The Mankind Project’s signature program is The New Warriors Training Adventure which invites men to get naked during part of the weekend festivities. This is well documented on their own website. They say it is optional but they strongly defend the practice (in addition to the “cock talk” portion of the program where men hold a wooden phallus and talk about their sexual history) as being an important aspect of the program.

Currently, Pickup offers discounts to the New Warriors Training Program to those who sign up for his online reorientation therapy program (only 5.99 a month!). Reparative therapists have for years viewed the New Warriors Training Adventure as being useful for same-sex attracted men because they believe SSA derives from wounded masculinity. Thus, when Pickup recommends the weekend on his reorientation therapy website, he does not simply hope his clients will have a fun weekend in the woods. The purpose is therapeutic.  While he may not be doing the naked therapy, he is recommending it.

For more on the Mankind Project, see this page.