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Religious Tolerance logo

About NARTH: The National Association for
Research & Therapy of Homosexuality

Overview. About NARTH. Narth personnel

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In the past, researchers attempted to change sexual orientation through psychotherapy, aversion therapy, nausea producing drugs, prayer, castration, electric shock, brain surgery, breast amputations, etc. All of these techniques failed miserably. These methods were largely abandoned by the mid-1970's. However, Outrage!, a British support group for lesbians and gays, recently found it necessary to ask the Royal College of Psychiatrists to renounce aversion therapy and instruct its members to halt "the use of all therapies that attempt to cure homosexuality." 1

Reparative Therapy emerged in the early 1980's as a new method of "curing" homosexuals. It was spearheaded by Elizabeth Moberly 2 who based her theories on the findings of a few psychiatrists in the past whose conclusions had long been abandoned by almost all mental health professionals. Her belief is that children from birth progress along a path that would lead them to become heterosexual adults. However, some are deflected into a homosexual path due to incompetence and lack of emotional contact by the same-gender parent.

Author Jeffry Ford wrote:

"Moberly determined...that the homosexual men in the studies were suffering from what she termed  'defensive detachment' and 'same sex ambivalence.' The theory presumes that the young boy, for any of a variety of reasons, did not bond with his father in a meaningful way." 3

Her book, published in the 1980s, has been recently reprinted and is still in print. Her theory led to a treatment method in which a gay or lesbian develops a close but non-sexual relationship with a person of the same gender. Over time, this is expected to replace the close parental bond that was missing in childhood. According to her theory, heterosexual feelings would emerge during therapy, and homosexual feelings would fade over time. More details.

No peer-reviewed study has ever been published on reparative therapy. No longitudinal study has ever been conducted into its long-term effectiveness and hazards. Sufficient anecdotal evidence has surfaced to convince the large mental health professional societies, like the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, etc. to condemn reparative therapy as ineffective, and warn of potentially dangerous side-effects. 4 The one exception is the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) - the topic of this essay. They strongly advocate the use of reparative therapy, believing it to be very effective and safe.

This is an untenable position. Probably tens of thousands of persons with a bisexual or homosexual orientation are being exposed to a form of therapy that has never been adequately studied. A similar event happened back in the 1980s and early 1990s when many therapists used recovered memory therapy to recover abuse memories from their client's early childhood. On the order of 17% of their clients went on to recover abuse memories of Satanic Ritual Abuse. Eventually, it was discovered that the vast majority of these "memories" were not of real events. By this time, tens of thousands of clients and their families of origin had been damaged and many suicides triggered.

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About NARTH:

NARTH was founded in 1992 as a "non-profit, educational organization dedicated to the research, therapy and prevention of homosexuality." It currently consists of "more than 1,000 mental-health professionals." These are believed to be psychiatrists, psychologists, other therapists, social workers, and behavioral scientists. 5,6 (This number represents a small percentage of the total number of mental health professionals; the American Psychological Association alone has over 132,000 members.) Persons who are sympathetic to NARTH's goals who is not a therapist is asked to join as a "Friend of NARTH." Many conservative Christian individuals and ministries have done this.

The association states that their members follow many different religions and ethical systems, ranging from  Roman "Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Baha'i, Protestant, to secular humanist/atheist." The vast majority of its members are believed to be from the conservative wings of Christianity and Judaism.

Reporter Decca Aitkenhead of The Guardian, a UK newspaper, wrote:

"It is not an insignificant network. Narth's membership includes a former president of the American Mental Health Counsellors' Association and university clinical professors of psychiatry Charles Socarides, Dean Byrd and Benjamin Kaufman. Along with Drs Jeffrey Satinover, Richard Fitzgibbons and Irving Bieber, all have published or contributed to books about reparative therapy, and claim that at least a third of all clients can be completely cured of their homosexuality."

NARTH is becoming widely accepted among many evangelical Christian ministries and para-church groups, because it is seen as the only professional mental health organization that teaches that homosexual orientation is a disorder, that it is chosen, and that it can be changed through effort.

NARTH hold annual meetings at the same locations as the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA).  The NARTH Bulletin is published three times a year.

NARTH Personnel: 

Their Executive Director/Secretary Treasurer and co-founder is Joseph Nicolosi of the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino CA. Nicolosi is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. He originated the term "reparative therapy." Their late president and co-founder was Charles Socarides (1922-2005) , of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York NY. Both have written widely on reparative therapy. NARTH's current president is Dr. Philip Sutton. He "... practices at two outpatient counseling centers, two elementary schools, and a Catholic seminary. He also leads a Courage group in South Bend, Indiana." Courage is a lesbian, gay and bisexual support group that promotes celibacy. 7

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Aversion Therapy - Letter to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, " Outrage!, at:
  2. We have never been able to confirm Elizabeth R. Moberly's academic qualifications. Some refer to her as a "therapist" or "theologian," or "psychologist" or "self-proclaimed psychologist." Some say that she has no mental health qualifications at all. On the back cover of her main book "Homosexuality: A new Christian ethic" where one would expect to see her academic background listed, she is merely described as "the originator of gender-affirmative therapy for homosexuals."  They refer to her having traveled extensively giving seminars and appearing on television programs. See: For information on her book, see: online book store
  3. Jeffry Ford, "What is Reparative Therapy?," at:
  4. "APA Online: Public Interest: Just the facts about sexual orientation and youth: A primer for principals, educators and school personnel," See:
  5. The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) has a home page at:
  6. As of 2001-JAN, NARTH can be reached at: 16633 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 1340, Encino, CA 91436-1801. Phone: (818) 789-4440. Fax: (805) 373-5084
  7. "Dr. Phil Sutton Elected NARTH President-Elect," NARTH, 2009-JAN-07, at:

Copyright © 1997 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2010-JUN-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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