Reparative and similar therapies
Introduction, Part 3:
Acceptance. An Email. Safety.
|Many hundreds of conservative Christian therapists and ministries promote
as effective and safe. These therapies mesh well with their fundamental religious beliefs:
|Almost all of the hundreds of thousands of remaining mental health
professionals feel that therapy is:
We received an Email from an evangelical Christian who wants to start a ministry for gays and lesbians, and asked for help. We responded:
|We have studied a bunch of services to gays, lesbians and bisexuals, ranging
from transformational ministries, to reparative therapy to psychotherapy.
One concern we have is with terminology. Religious and social conservatives typically define "homosexuality" in terms of behavior -- what a person does. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, religious and social liberals, therapists, human sexuality researchers typically define "homosexuality" in terms of sexual orientation -- what a person is. Sexual orientation is mainly defined in terms of the gender of persons to whom one is attracted -- opposite sex for heterosexuals, same-sex for homosexuals, or both sexes (but not necessarily to the same degree) for bisexuals.
The lack of consensus on definitions causes immense confusion. For example, a homosexual who decides to become celibate is referred to as an ex-gay by conservatives and as a celibate homosexual by others. A bisexual who decides to confine their relationships to opposite-sex persons is referred to as an ex-gay by conservatives and as a bisexual by others.
What I see lacking in many of these efforts is objectivity and truth. They often talk about "change" and "freedom from homosexuality". Their potential clients and the public often interpret this as the possibility of changing their sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual.
But that is never -- or almost never -- possible.
Within medicine, there are strong governmental controls that govern the introduction of new medications and treatment regimens. But mental and physical therapies are largely unregulated. Anybody can introduce and promote a new, totally unproven, form of experimental therapy. If it catches on, thousands of therapists may adopt the concept and start treating their patients. Over the last two decades we have seen treatments based on therapists' beliefs in: abuse of patients during former lifetimes, abuse during UFO visitations, facilitated communication for autistic children, indwelling demonic spirits, mind control within religious Cults, multiple personality disorder/dissociative identity disorder, recovered memory therapy, ritual abuse in day care centers, Satanic ritual abuse, and therapeutic touch.
All of these treatment methods have a few points in common:
Most of these have been shown to be frauds; all might eventually prove to be ineffective. Many generate a trail of devastated lives; some have been shown to trigger deep depression and suicide.
According to Wikipedia:
"While no comprehensive study has been yet carried out into the long-term consequences of conversion therapies, the Schroeder and Shidlo study...found that the majority of respondents reported being left in a poor mental and emotional state after the therapy, and that rates of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse and suicidal feelings were roughly doubled in those who underwent reparative therapy. Of particular concern was the lack of support given by reparative therapists and counselors to those who found their program to be contributing to psychological distress" 1
No consensus exists on the safety, effectiveness, and possible adverse
consequences of conversion therapies at this time. We urge extreme caution.
From our study of reparative therapy, we suspect that:
|Many bisexuals have been convinced, during therapy, to
confine their relationships to the opposite gender. This is commonly
referred to by therapists and Evangelical Christian ministries to
gays and lesbians as "leaving the homosexual lifestyle,"
"changing their homosexuality," "becoming
an ex-gay," "set free from the addiction of
homosexuality and lesbianism," "seeking freedom from
homosexuality," "called...to a new kind of life,"
"being a recovered gay," "redeem
their lives from the pit," etc. Note that their sexual orientation is
unchanged; they simply decided to behave differently -- to only
become romantically involved with members of the opposite gender.|
|Some homosexuals have been convinced during therapy to choose celibacy.
promoters generally use the above terms to describe this group as
well. Note that their sexual orientation is unchanged; they remain
homosexual; they simply
decided to not act on their sexual longings -- to not have a sexual partner,
and to accept a life of loneliness. |
|Some homosexuals have completed therapy in a temporary euphoria. They believe that they have changed their sexual
orientation. Some are even able to engage in sexual intercourse with
members of the opposite gender, by closing their eyes and fantasizing
that they are actually making love to a person of the same sex. The belief
that they are now heterosexual always, or almost always, fades with
|Some have entered therapy with great anticipation that they will be
able to change their sexual orientation. When it proves unsuccessful:
|We have been able to find a few documented case of individuals with a homosexual orientation who report having changed to a heterosexual orientation. Almost all of the cases that we have located turned out to be false leads: the individual later admitted that he/she had not changed their orientation. Many have left the "ex-gay" movement to become an "ex-ex-gays."|
Unfortunately, these suspicions are based on inadequate evidence. Certainty awaits a meaningful, credible study by mental health professionals. Unfortunately, the studies that have been made to date are seriously flawed.
We wrote those words in 1996. The world is still waiting a comprehensive, valid study.
|Menu: Reparative and similar therapies|
|Homosexuality - all aspects|
|Homosexuality: fixed or changeable; genetic or chosen?|
|The causes of sexual orientation|
|Statements by professional groups, etc. about homosexuality|
|Ex-gay newspaper advertisements|
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Copyright © 1996 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2012-PCT-06
Author: B.A. Robinson
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