I assume Christopher Doyle refers to the effort around the country to prohibit sexual reorientation change efforts for minors. However, I write this post to address a couple of points.
When it comes to sexual orientation and psychotherapy, the reparative therapy narrative of defective parenting doesn’t hold water or match up with research or experience. However, there are still therapists who believe that and try to impose it on their clients and their families. Much of my work has been to develop a therapy approach (sexual identity therapy) which requires therapists to present scientific research about sexual orientation to clients and allow clients to decide what to do about it.
On the other hand, the Family Research Council speaker Christopher Doyle worked and trained with Richard Cohen who has a different approach. Here is a snapshot of a couple of Richard Cohen’s techniques.
I will leave it to readers. Is this psychotherapy?
Doyle defended these and other outrageous techniques in this legal brief designed to be used in a New Jersey trial involving JONAH, a Jewish change therapy group. JONAH lost at trial.
You can see Doyle in action in this review of a documentary called Sunday Sessions in which Doyle provides sexual orientation change counseling to a young adult man. Note that Richard Cohen is involved in the group sessions at the beginning.
In the end, the young man feels somewhat better but credits the teachings of the Catholic church for his mood improvement. There is no indication that his sexual attractions changed.
Sexual Identity Therapy
I watched the documentary (I recommend it although there is no real conclusion to the story), and I need to make another thing clear. In the film (and on this page), Doyle calls his approach to therapy “Sexual Identity Affirming Therapy.” I want to say plainly that what he does is unrelated to “Sexual Identity Therapy” as developed by Mark Yarhouse and me.
In the documentary, Doyle did not provide a range of information about the development of male homosexuality but instead authoritatively expressed the reparative narrative of weak fathers and an unmasculine upbringing. The directive style demonstrated in the movie review above is not taken out of context. None of this is consistent with sexual identity therapy. People working within the principles of SIT do not attempt to change a client’s sexual orientation. SIT is antithetical to what Doyle demonstrates in the documentary and more broadly, to what Cohen does in his various public demonstrations.
The War is Over
In my opinion, within psychotherapy, the war is actually over and change therapy has lost. No training programs teach it. I know of no Christian training programs that teach it (although I would like to be corrected if I am wrong). It is misleading to pretend there is a wronged group of psychotherapists who want to practice it and can’t. The courts have not been inclined to defend it.
This program is sponsored and hosted by Phillip Schanker, former director of the family department of the Unification Community in the USA. Our special guest facilitator is Richard Cohen, M.A., psychotherapist, author, and founder of the International Healing Foundation (IHF), who has helped thousands experience radical healing and freedom over the past 27 years. To learn more about IHF and Richard’s personal journey from homosexual to heterosexual, visit www.comingoutloved.com. NOTE: This private retreat is intended for current or former Unificationists and their loved ones, but it is not sponsored by or affiliated with the FFWPU. To respect those who would prefer that your participation be confidential, your registration information will be known only to Phillip Schanker, and only registered participants will receive details about the location of the program.
This makes sense as Moon’s son endorses Cohen as the foremost expert in the church.
Despite claims that she left the church, IHF staffer Hilde Wiemann conducted workshops for the Unification Church in 2013.
In my opinion, the IHF bottom line is money. The source of it doesn’t much matter.
Richard Cohen in action. Wonder if there will be a special price on tennis racquets at the conference?
In 2007, parenting specialist at the International Healing Foundation Hilde Wiemann first denied, then admitted being involved in the Unification Church (Church of Sun Myung Moon who taught that he was the Messiah). Due to her involvement, the International Healing Foundation was briefly placed back on Steve Hassan’s list of Unificationist front groups. IHF was originally placed on Hassan’s list because Cohen was once a member of the UC. IHF was removed when Wiemann recanted and declared the UC to be a “satanic, heretical cult.” IHF founder Richard Cohen initially denied Wiemann was a part of the church but later acknowledged her statement.
Apparently, Ms. Wiemann has changed her mind again. She recently presented a series of sessions along with long time UC member Pam Stein on behalf of the Women’s Federation for World Peace. The WFWP is a Unification Church entity headed by Angelika Selle. Selle pastors a UC church in MD and was appointed to her post as president of the American WFWP by none other than True Mother, Sun Myung Moon’s wife, Hak Ja Han Moon.
Ms. Wiemann has also changed her name. She now goes by Hilde Reinold in her non-IHF pursuits. Any doubt about her identity is dispelled by her Hilltop Retreat bio:
Hildegard Reinold grew up in a small town in Austria and came to the United States in 1982, where she married her husband, John Wiemann. John works hand-in-hand with Hilde as a massage therapist and Shiatsu specialist. John and Hilde have two sons and one daughter in their 20s, all happily married. Being a mother was and is the most important and fulfilling part of Hilde’s life.
IHF continues to partner with Reinold/Wiemann however, often using her Hilltop Retreat Center for their workshops. She is listed as Hilde Wiemann in the IHF literature but Hilde Reinold on the brochure promoting the UC workshop (note arrows pointing out the audience and the presenters):
I addition to the tele-course, Rienold/Wiemann led a session for the WFWP in October as a part of their of their annual National Assembly. During this event, Reinold/Wiemann presented a break out session on leadership and was quoted extensively in the article.
Reinold/Wiemann is not a peripheral player at IHF. In IHF’s Winter, 2012 newsletter, Cohen lauded Wiemann as a “true sister” and said she is “intrinsically laced into the fabric of IHF.”
In October 2012, one of Moon’s sons, Hyung Jin Moon identified Richard Cohen as being in the UC movement and as the “foremost expert” on homosexuality in the UC. There was no comment at the time from Cohen.
For more on the UC, see this in depth New Republic report from Mariah Blake.
The Dr. Oz Show today will feature Chris Doyle from the International Healing Foundation, Julie Hamilton from NARTH and Rich Wyler from People Can Change arguing in favor of sexual orientation change efforts. You can see teasers for the show here. Others will take the alternative point of view as well and you can see some of their views at the Dr. Oz website.
This show comes as Cohen’s methods and allies at JONAH are being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for consumer fraud.
After years of reporting meager income from operations of the International Healing Foundation, Richard Cohen reported over $600,000 in revenue on his 990 form for 2011. Most of that total – $540,000 – was revenue related to an IHF “special school project.” See below:
The IHF website is silent about this project but it seems likely that this is the educational initiative Cohen described in his Fall 2007 newsletter. After lamenting what he considered to be school indoctrination relating to homosexuality, Cohen provided his solution:
To fill in the blanks left by the public school systems’ strictly gay-affirming curricula, the International Healing Foundation is set to produce a short DVD. This film is designed to be part of the schools’ health education courses, and clearly shows that people can change and come out of homosexuality. The film will feature the true story of a young man and his parents, as well as interviews with several other men and women who have made the change from gay to straight. Half the film’s $40,000 budget has been raised. The International Healing Foundation needs your help in raising the remaining $20,000 to make this film a reality. Please help save our children, and set the record straight!
Once this project is completed, an additional one million dollars will be needed to send a copy of the DVD to every school district in the country. We will urge them to provide a DVD for each of their schools, so the complete story of homosexuality can be told. This historical film will have the power to turn the tide of strictly gay affirmation by proclaiming the truth about change. Millions of students will then have the opportunity to decide for themselves the kind of life they choose to live.
As improbable as it might seem, it appears that IHF has found a donor or several donors willing to fund this effort. The project appears to be moving forward. According to the 990, IHF has spent over $180,000 on expenses relating to the “special school project.”
Yesterday I reported that Unification Church president, Hyung Jin Moon considers IHF founder Richard Cohen to be a member of the Unification church movement and the foremost expert on homosexuality in the church. With this school project, Cohen apparently wants to bring his “expertise” to the nations’ schools. Given the volatile climate of public schools related to anti-gay bullying, I am nervous about the impact of schools showing a video from IHF to students.
While I doubt these clips are a part of the school video, it is worth remembering how Cohen approaches sexual reorientation. First from a CNN appearance:
and then from the documentary, Chasing the Devil:
UPDATE: Another more likely possibility for the video expenses is the underwriting of Acception Productions (another hat tip to David Hart for reminding me of this). This video purports to be about bullying prevention but adds a “U” (for unwanted) to the usual GLBT designation of same sex orientation. Thus, IHF attempts to straddle the fence – claiming to support kids who are same-sex attracted but also supporting reparative therapy interventions which pathologize them. How ironic. Initially, Cohen claimed that gays were using the schools to advance ideological ends and now he is doing it for the same purpose.
Here is a description of the initial showing of their video to public school staff:
The event also featured a talk by Betsy Gallun, Supervisor of Health Education, Prince George’s County, MD and a panel discussion of middle and high school students from the Washington, DC area that was moderated by WHUR’s Molette Green.
Here is the trailer for the video:
In the curriculum booklet which accompanies Acception is this gem which is supposed to be discussed with students:
Group 5: Innate and Developmental Characteristics. – We are all born with unique personalities. We also develop specific characteristics through familial and environmental factors. In Acception, the cartoon “Are People Born Gay?” examines the scientific evidence surrounding homosexuality, and concludes with the American Psychological Association that: “Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”49 With your group, discuss some of the characteristics people are born with, as well as other characteristics that are acquired. What do you think we can and cannot change about ourselves? Share your thoughts with your classmates, and remember to accept and appreciate everyone’s opinion.
And then this claim is made regarding sexual orientation change:
Group 9: Respecting Choices. – While most people experience little or no choice in their sexual attractions, many people make decisions based on their personal, religious, and/or cultural values when it comes to their sexual behavior. For example, some individuals who experience same-sex attraction may find their feelings are at odds with their values and choose not to engage in homosexual behavior. Others, still, may actually experience a shift or change in their sexual feelings throughout their lives due to a variety of experiences; in fact, emerging research is finding that sexuality is somewhat fluid for certain individuals, and should not be viewed as fixed or permanent.52,53,54,55,56
I think it will be clear to most long time observers of IHF that this video is simply a means of getting the “change is possible” message in the schools. While I have no problem with the idea that some people choose to align their behavior with religious beliefs, it is another thing entirely to give students false hope and then route them to religiously oriented ex-gay programs which use bizarre methods to try to reorient sexuality.