Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sexual orientation can be changed with 'reparative' therapy

(1)Even in cases where “reparative” therapy isn’t simply abuse, this is not true in the vast majority of cases.(2) The fact remains that some “reparative” therapies are abusive and even criminal.(3) Beyond Ex-Gay is one example of an organization and conference for the survivors of these therapies. Truth Wins Out is another.(4) Attempts to change a person’s sexual identity overwhelmingly fail (except in a few rare cases)(5), which leads to an escalation of force used by those who are committed to the false idea that a person’s sexual identity is a malfunction of some kind. This is a view that is not shared by any credible American scientific organization, and should not be encouraged by the church.(6)

Commentary
Here is the General Assembly of the PC(USA) recommending against reparative/conversion therapy, joining with every US scientific organization in condemning it's use with LGBTQ persons.  The full text is in italics below.  Ten years ago, the General Assembly said what we are saying now.


1. In rare cases where a person's natural sexual orientation has been corrupted through abuse or trauma, therapy is the loving response, in order to restore a person to healthy consensual sexual expression.  The false argument here is that sexual orientation can (and should) be changed with therapy.  "Reparative therapy" is also one term for therapies used to alter sexual orientation - here it is meant as a place-holder for all such techniques, including conversion therapy and reorientation therapy.

2. Here's an example of some extended analysis of whether reparative therapy of adolescents constitutes child abuse or neglect.  Here's the APA's Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation.  They found two things: methodological problems in many studies, and no evidence of significant change in same-sex attraction.

3Here's the British Medical Association making the claim that conversion therapy is in itself harmful.

4. Beyond Ex-Gay; Truth Wins Out. It seems that the ones truly needing reparative therapy are the survivors of reparative therapy, and what needs to be 'repaired' is not their sexual orientation, but the effects of attempts to force another orientation on them in order to fit the heterosexual norm.

5. See above.  Again, it is possible for therapy to help someone recover a healthy sexual orientation after trauma or abuse.

6. If the assumption is that one must be forced into heterosexuality, then when attempts fail, it makes sense that efforts would escalate.  Trying to convince can become coercion; coercion can become worse and worse.  Here are some stories from survivors of this kind of 'therapy'.  Here is the American Psychiatric Association's position paper in opposition to any kind of 'reparative' therapy to change sexual orientation.  In doing so, they join the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the National Association of Social Workers, among others mentioned above and otherwise.  The church should under no circumstances support therapies which are ineffective, sometimes abusive and damaging in themselves, and which are repudiated by every major American medical or psychological association.

"The 211th General Assembly (1999) affirms that the existing policy of inclusiveness welcomes all into membership of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as we confess our sin and our need for repentance and God’s grace. In order to be consistent with this policy, no church should insist that gay and lesbian people need therapy to change to a heterosexual orientation, nor should it inhibit or discourage those individuals who are unhappy with or confused about their sexual orientation from seeking therapy they believe would be helpful. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) affirms that medical treatment, psychological therapy, and pastoral counseling should be in conformity with recognized professional standards "

4 comments:

Alan said...

Few people realize that the GA adopted an overture sent by our Session (with others concurring) on reparative therapy back in 1999 that pretty clearly condemns the practice. The resolution affirmed that medical and psychological treatment, therapy, and pastoral counseling should conform to recognized professional standards.

Doug Hagler said...

You're right - I didn't realize that. Could you send a link to the overture? I'd be happy to add it to our post.

Alan said...

The full text of the resolution is:
"The 211th General Assembly (1999) affirms that the existing policy of inclusiveness welcomes all into membership of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as we confess our sin and our need for repentance and God’s grace. In order to be consistent with this policy, no church should insist that gay and lesbian people need therapy to change to a heterosexual orientation, nor should it inhibit or discourage those individuals who are unhappy with or confused about their sexual orientation from seeking therapy they believe would be helpful. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) affirms that medical treatment, psychological therapy, and pastoral counseling should be in conformity with recognized professional standards "

http://wfn.org/1999/08/msg00318.html

Doug Hagler said...

Awesome, thanks for that. Added it to the post, and I'm glad to see that the GA already acted on this 10 years ago.