The value of self-determination in counseling

In response to the recent attacks on the sexual identity therapy framework, a supportive reader contacted me with a story of one of her experiences in counseling. I do know the person and can confirm the accuracy of the situation. Why should therapists avoid imposing their beliefs on clients? Read and see what you think.

As someone who has been in counseling, I enormously appreciate your emphasis on self-determination.  As you wrote the other day, any therapist can force any views at any patient. When I was in grad school, I had just started with a female therapist.  She was given plenty of information about my Christian beliefs and how it was important to operate within that for me to succeed.  And then within 5 weeks (before I quit), she sent me to the library to read a book that was essentially how to be a lesbian. And then she basically told me that if I’d just go and have sex with someone that I wouldn’t have problems with it anymore.  And then I quit.  Why is respecting beliefs a better way? I really had a hard time with that, because she tried to force me out of my beliefs.  And it was awful.  I had a hard time trusting any therapist after that.

That therapist should have made a referral. Apparently, the value conflict was so great that the therapist apparently was not able to get past it. Therapists are not machines and have strong beliefs about many things so when the conflict is great, referral is indicated. The sexual identity therapy framework allows for such referrals while at the same time requiring respect for clients and their values.

137 thoughts on “The value of self-determination in counseling”

  1. I am out of here for good.

    Concerned,

    I respect you so much and understand what you mean. Please do not be gone too long as everything you have said has meant a lot to me. God bless you and your children.

  2. I believe it is a normal and healthy variant of human sexuality and sexual orientation.

    I do not think it is sin. It’s not a condition. It’s not an addition. It’s not a disease. There is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with being gay. That is my bias. I am proud of it on every level.

    Ok, then just be content with your convictions and allow others to do the same. I am always glad when one is not conflicted as I have seen how it can affect someone their whole life. Something tells me contentment comes with peace in one’s heart and I am not sure if this is what I am getting from your words here.

    I think that what you believe about it is a bunch of homophobic, dangerous, bigotted, destructive crap. Clear enough?

    For whatever it is worth, it saddens me to know you resorted to these words. I know others do and their reputation for doing so precedes anything they might say but I thought you were different.

  3. What do you call believing that gayness is broken, a disorder, a sin that will land you in hell if not “biased”?

    Normal, healthy, on the right track.

  4. You cannot explain the reality of the experience away with word games

    Who’s experience? Honestly, what good would it do anyone if we all experienced sexual feelings the same way? It seems as though you want an admission that is black or white from others regarding their sexuality – that is just not going to happen. Sometimes people do not make it a priority in their life and are busy going about living instead of comparing themselves to others. Some would call this trusting God and allowing Him to prepare us for a life that would honor Him and those we love or have yet to love. None of us are obligated to compromise our personal resolve in how we think or live just to satisify another’s perspective or opinion.

  5. I’m obviously NOT ignoring them. I don’t AGREE with them. I don’t agree with you — or your bias that gay sex is sin, that gayness is broken, that you will go to hell if you don’t stop, that it can and should be “fixed” somehow. That’s the great divide, not this silly semantic chess game about terms and constructs.

    You asked me once to just come out and tell you that I “thought you were full of crap”. OK. You got it.

    Everyone but you seems to get this. Orientation is about ATTRACTIONS. ORIENTATION IS ATTRACTION. It’s which way the needle points. It’s about the direction of the attractions — gay or straight — and to a certain extent, the other things the APA mentioned as being “based on those attractions”.

    You cannot explain the reality of the experience away with word games. I think you are still gay, Eddy. And the other thing you mentioned.

  6. I’m simply subscribing to the FULL definition of sexual orientation. If motives and agendas are going to be alleged, it ought to go towards those, like yourself, who choose only one phrase…only one item….out of the complex definition.

    I’m appealing to the thoughtful, well-rounded definition; what are you appealing to?

  7. Just because you don’t like the words, doesn’t mean that they don’t have a validity and a meaning to practically everyone else in describing the experience of folks who are not heterosexual. I prefer the term “gay”. My brother is straight. My Mom and Dad were straight. You are free to call it anything you please.

    You want to minimize the centrality of attraction — making it more about identity, behavior and community affiliation. That fits you and your “gay sex is sin” agenda. That way, you can still be homosexual (exclusively) in attraction and still masturbate to gay fantasies (exclusively) and claim to have had a change in sexual orientation. No one’s gonna buy it. Except maybe Exodus.

  8. Ignore my previous comments anyway you like to, Michael, when previously gay-identified people have found satisfying sexual relationships with the opposite sex, they’ve reoriented even if they have occasional homosexual attractions.

  9. Slice it anyway you like it, Eddy. If you are ONLY attracted to the same sex, you are not straight. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure that one out.

  10. I’m sorry, but appeals to ‘even Dr. Throckmorton says’ don’t fly with me. He’s a fellow-sojourner who doesn’t pretend to be any more knowledgeable than the rest of us. I lament that he isn’t as involved in our daily dialogues as I would hope but I think he and I would both agree that he isn’t God…he’s just one voice and, unlike many here, he’s a voice that’s still open to outside influence and impact.

    This gets so tiring. If I had likened homosexuality to cancer as Michael did, we’d be going on for another day at least about how inappropriate my comparison was. Likening homosexuality to the most deadly, uncurable disease known to mankind in our present day. Hell, I get grief when I compare it to ‘lying’. Think about it and answer trufhfully…would the tentacles of censorship have grabbed me by the throat? Have your bias; remain blind to it; just don’t try to cram it down my throat. Portray ex-gays and portray conservative Christians as you will; I personally believe that the double-speak will betray your cause in the end.

    Michael,

    I’ve addressed and will continue to address with Exodus their use of the word ‘homosexuality’. The word is so much a part of our vernacular now that even I find myself using it. But it’s a term synonymous with the unproven ‘condition of having an ongoing sexual attraction for members of one’s own gender’. (Only borrowing a portion of the definition of sexual orientation.) I don’t like it. There’s no similar word for having an ongoing prediliction for gambling or lying other than ‘addiction’ and so many many people fall short of being addicted. ‘Addiction’ is a loaded word yet the science of psychology has yet to come up with a term for gamblers or liars who arent’ addicted but still found gratification in gambling and lying, still have urges at times to gamble or lie but have successfully mastered those urges.

    Do we measure success over gambling or lying as NEVER being tempted to gamble or lie again? Why is the standard for success of reorientation so much higher?

    I fear that until we can honestly answer that question without trying to defend a point of view or stance, we’ll be forever lost in the land of polarization.

  11. I should also add that my question was a general one and is not intended to infer that all individuals who have SGA are precluded from being attracted to the opposite gender as has been proven.

  12. Is the motivation for scientific research and study more about what the enduring attractions and behaviors are OR more about how those attractions preclude an individual from being attracted to the opposite gender?

  13. David. I completely agree. Behavior change. Exodus and reparative therapists just need to be completely honest about that. They claim to set people “free from homosexuality” (the implied promise of heterosexuality) not from homosexual behavior.

    Behavior change. Other changes, but not heterosexuality. Like doctors offer patients methods for management of their dibetes, lifestyle changes and reductions in their urge to over-eat — not cure.

    Honestyabout behavior, lifestyle and indentity changes, not redefining “orientation change” into meaninglessness. If only they had done what one of the other founders of Exodus — Robbi Kenney — had the honesty and courage to urge Exodus leaders to do 30 years ago — “Know what you are promising. Not heterosexuality but the power to come into celibacy”.

  14. Even Dr. Throckmorton said once that these SOCE programs are more about “reframing and refraining” than orienation change from gay to straight. Howver you define or refine the words, I think he’s right.

  15. No, I believe you are the one misunderstanding this, not me. Orientation, the way they define it, is the attractions and the things based on those attractions. I agree with this. You don’t have real sexual orientation change unless the attractions change.

    You may have behavioral, lifestyle, identity and community changes — very real and significant ones that make you much happier — but the sexual orientation is still homosexual, not heterosexual. People, including scientists, are not going to delete “attraction” from the definition no matter how biased you think that is.

  16. Based on those attractions.The way I read this, is that they define sexual orientation as those attractions and the things based on those attractions.

    No, from the portion you quoted, ‘based on those attractions’ is a qualifying phrase. The subject, orientation, is

    1) personal and social identity (based on those attractions) 2) behaviors and 3) membership in the community.

    In the earlier portion of their definition, ‘sexual attraction’ was listed but in the same sentence as ’emotional’ and ‘romantic’ attraction.

  17. It would be asif people had been claiming that eating bananas cures cancer. Does it? Let’s see. NOPE.

    Do banana eaters feel better about themselves? Do they feel more hopeful about their recovery? Do they stop “identifying” as cancer victims? Are they happier? Live more fulfilling lives? Maybe.

    They still have cancer.

  18. According to the American Psychological Association, sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of “personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them.

    Based on those attractions.The way I read this, is that they define sexual orientation as those attractions and the things based on those attractions. That’s what they have been studying — because of claims that SOCE can do this.

    That’s what most people — including most scientists I suspect — have been most curious about. It’s what they most want to know. Do SOCE change the attractions from homosexual ro heterosexual? Does orientation — as commonly defined and accepted — change those attractions? Do homosexuals become heterosexua through these programs?

    NO. They don’t seem to. I think the other questions –(1) can people stop having gay sex, (2) can they stop calling themselves and thinking of themselves as gay, (3) can they stop “identifying” as gay, (4) can they stop alligning themselves with a sense of gay community — are self-evident. Of course they can. No one ever made the claim that they can’t.

    People (including some very un-scientific “therapy” organizations) HAVE made the claim that sexual reorientation change (in the sense of changing those basic attractions from gay to straight) does take place through these efforts and science has pretty much shown those claims to be false.

  19. No, not a blind spot, really. An over-simplification perhaps. People have traditionally thought of people who are attracted tot he same sex (homosexuals) , those who are attracted to the opposite sex (heterosexuals) and those who are attracted to both (bisexuals). That’s the way most people think, I would guess

    Fairly new terms in our language. Barely a hundred years old.

  20. It’s about the question, “Do sexual re-orientation change efforts make homosexuals into heterosexuals in terms of criteria number one — their basic sexual/romantic attractions to the same gender?”

    No, Michael, it’s not about that question. You joined late and you don’t get to change the question to suit your needs. The question originated among Ann, Jayhuck and concerned and was in response to ‘science has not found reorientation to be successful’.

    We then challenged the notion and the definiton of orientation and we’ve gone round the block a time or two. I’ve challenged that there’s much more to the definition than sexual attraction only and, without properly justifying why it’s okay to throw out the rest of the definition, it’s a bit presumptious for you to reduce the entire conversation to your point of view that it’s all about point one.

  21. they are more interested in your attractions than than your religious beliefs, your identity, your behavior — or your sense of community.

    It took awhile but finally got my answer.

    Maybe they SHOULD care more about those other questions, but I doubt that will ever change.

    Actually, if those other things are part of the definition and if ‘they’ are scientists, then the bias is clear. And the fact that they will likely never change suggests that this sad bias will continue. I believe that biased science doesn’t really live up to the name ‘science’; I certainly wouldn’t use biased science to defend a point of view.

  22. Once again I understand where you stand but we happen to be speaking about those who have or have not successfully reoriented. You did not. I get that.

    This is not about me or my lack of “success”. It’s about the question, “Do sexual re-orientation change efforts make homosexuals into heterosexuals in terms of criteria number one — their basic sexual/romantic attractions to the same gender?”

    People like to claim they do, but where is the scientific evidence of those men who have reoriented according to that constuct? Science can’t seem to find them — and ex-gay/reparative therapy programs can’t seem to find a whole lot of evidence for it either. You think they should be framing the question differently.

    If the question had been “Do sexual reorienation change efforts produce OTHER changes — like changes in behavior, identity, life-style and community identification?” — the answer would be mich different. You wish they would ask THOSE questions. I get it.

  23. Nope! You won’t find ‘ex-gay’ among the various orientation constructs. Science doesn’t see me although I clearly exist! Hmm…What would we call that? A blind spot, perhaps?

    No, not a blind spot, really. An over-simplification perhaps. People have traditionally thought of people who are attracted tot he same sex (homosexuals) , those who are attracted to the opposite sex (heterosexuals) and those who are attracted to both (bisexuals). That’s the way most people think, I would guess.

    When it comes to these basic “constructs” and the question of “sexual reorientation”, they are more interested in your attractions than than your religious beliefs, your identity, your behavior — or your sense of community. Maybe they SHOULD care more about those other questions, but I doubt that will ever change. They want to know if gay guys become straight guys — using that simplistic construct. And there is much more evidence — including the stories of ex-gays like you — that they do not become heterosexual — than that they do.

  24. Michael–

    Once again I understand where you stand but we happen to be speaking about those who have or have not successfully reoriented. You did not. I get that.

  25. But if their personal and social identity is no longer based on those attractions, or the behaviors or identification with the community?

    Not straight. Ex-gay. Like you, Eddy.

    Nope! You won’t find ‘ex-gay’ among the various orientation constructs. Science doesn’t see me although I clearly exist! Hmm…What would we call that? A blind spot, perhaps?

    Re scientists: especially by using systematic observation and experiment I would love it if they’d actually study orientation and reorientation with this qualifier. Been saying that since way back in 1978!!!

    Jayhuck–

    I cited quite specifically those who have found satisfying heterosexual fulfillment when I posed my question. By satisfying I meant ‘satisfying’…previously gay-identified individuals who are happily married and are having satisfying relationships with their spouses…satisfying romantically, emotionally and sexually. The ones we’ve discounted in previous discussions because they admit to occasional homosexual attractions. Are they or are they not successfully reoriented?

    LOL. You now introduce the concept of ebbs and waves although I don’t recall that being mentioned in the scientific definition.

  26. For many years, I tried to change and did change 2-4. Number one never changed — the part I refer to as my sexual orientation. When all four lined up, I felt congruent, real, whole. Not without pain, but whole.

  27. Looking at the four parts of the Apa defintiion of sexual orienation:

    (1) Romantic/sexual atrractions to one’s own gender, not the opposite gender.

    (2) The actual “behaviors” — I would include masturbating to same-gender fantasies.

    (3) The sense of personal/social “identity based on those attractions and/or behaviors.

    (4) The sense of community with similar persons.

    If 3-4 change, but #1 is still towards one gender and not the other, I would still think of the person as “gay” or “homosexual”, not “straight” or “heterosexual”. I would not use the social construct of “sexual reorientation”.

    I think “Sexual Identity Change” or Warren’s idea of “congruence” would apply. I still don’t like the term, but perhaps that is the usefulness of a social contsruct like “ex-gay” to signify these other changes.

  28. They are all scientists. Just different fields of study.

    Definitions of science (n)

    (1) study of physical world: the study of the physical and natural world and phenomena, especially by using systematic observation and experiment

    (2) a particular area of study or knowledge of the physical world

    systematic body of knowledge:

    (3) a systematically organized body of knowledge about a particular subject

    Synonyms: discipline, knowledge, skill, art, learning, scholarship

    Science has to do with observation, forming and testing hypotheses, organization and analyzing data, etc. To argue that one field is “science” and the other is not is silly. It’s HOW you go about studying something, not what you study that matters.

  29. Eddy,

    Psychologists and psychiatrists also look to the natural sciences to help understand the social sciences. Perhaps instead of just using the nebulous term “scientists”, we should state what kind of scientist they are: biologist, physicist, chemist, etc..?

    And what, exactly, is a “satisfying degree of hetero response”? I mean, how many gay men, who lived in a time when being gay was much harder, got married and had kids because they felt they had to, all the while being primarily attracted to men? We’ve been down this road before haven’t we? Acting like a heterosexual doesn’t make you one.

  30. But if their personal and social identity is no longer based on those attractions, or the behaviors or identification with the community?

    Not straight. Ex-gay. Like you, Eddy.

  31. If a person has moved away from same sex emotional and romantic attachments and also from identification with the community of people who share same gender attractions, are we then evaluating reorientation ONLY on the fact that some sexual attraction remains?

    If we are talking about which label applies to his remaining attractions — gay or straight — yes. I would not call this person “heterosexual”. “Ex-gay” seems to be the more appropriate construct in this case, not straight. Now, if in addition to the changes you mentioned, he now got turned on by females instead of males, that might be fit the social construct of sexual reorientation more accurately.

  32. But if their personal and social identity is no longer based on those attractions, or the behaviors or identification with the community?

  33. Cool, now Jayhuck says that the APA definition IS the one he was referring to. So that makes the questions I posed in my last comment reasonable, valid and pertinent since they are based on that definition.

    (Note: I think for the purposes of our discussions here, we ought to call psychologist psychologists, psychiatrists psychiatrists and scientists scientists. We are all aware that the study of this issue is not only going on with a study of the mind (as the psychologists do) and with an appeal to science that is studying genetic and hormonal influence.)

  34. Do we disregard 75% of the definition to focus on sexual attraction only as our key evaluator?

    That’s where we diifer. I think it’s more like 95%. Even the other things — the person’s sense of “personal and social identity”, the behaviors, and the sense of membership in a community of others” is based on the attractions. To me, having the attractions is primary. I have trouble thinking of a person as “heterosexual” without heterosexual attractions.

    According to the American Psychological Association, sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of “personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them.

  35. If a person has moved away from same sex emotional and romantic attachments and also from identification with the community of people who share same gender attractions, are we then evaluating reorientation ONLY on the fact that some sexual attraction remains?

    Yeah but simply saying that some SSA has gone away does not really mean anything – I know gay and straight people for whom sexual attraction ebbs – its not uncommon, and I think that there could be many reasons why some SSA might seem to go away that have absolutely nothing to do with how we seem to understand re-orientation. That SSA and OSA ebbs and changes or comes in waves for people happens whether people are actively trying to change those attractions or not – so the fact that this is happening to some who identify as ex-gay doesn’t really say much of anything.

  36. Constructs are a big part of any science — whether we are speaking of the social sciences or the “hard” sciences. Constructs are maps, not realities. They are fictions. The experience of sexual orientation is real — no matter what construct we may use to describe it. Personally, I think music and poetry do a better job. A rose is more than stem, thorn, leaf and blossom.

  37. Michael–

    Again I agree with you in essence. You certainly fit the social construct for ‘gay orientation’ and you seem to understand the question I raised regarding reorientation. If a person has moved away from same sex emotional and romantic attachments and also from identification with the community of people who share same gender attractions, are we then evaluating reorientation ONLY on the fact that some sexual attraction remains? Do we disregard 75% of the definition to focus on sexual attraction only as our key evaluator?

    I cited those who have even cultivated some satisfying degree of hetero response but, in previous discussions, even they were not generally regarded as successful reorientation if they admitted to some lingering same gender sexual attraction. How do we justify ignoring the rest of the definition of sexual orientation.

    Sorry, I think we will have to work within the Wiki framework. Although Jayhuck claims knowledge of a scientific definition, for some reason, he just isn’t able to provide it here.

  38. Eddy,

    Sociology, Psychiatry and Psychology are sciences, social sciences – I’m not sure why we are having problems understanding each other? Scientists always come up with labels for things – they have to in order to have a common language to use and to be able to conduct studies. I listed that definition for you already Eddy – from the APA.

    Gravity is not something that can be seen, and its not something that scientists completely understand – If memory serves it is also somewhat ill defined – yet they, scientists, know it is there and they can measure it

  39. There are parameters within which to discuss definitions, but the reality is much muddier.

    I agree with this as well Warren, but this statement is true of many things in several fields of science – it seems that, over time , a general consensus does tend to emerge

  40. Totally agree. My point with Jayhuck is that they are not ‘science’. They came up in the Wiki description of ‘sexual orientation’ which I suggested was a sociological definition rather than a scientific one…and being sociological, they are not as clearly defined as a scientific term might be.

    He has since suggested that there is a scientific definition that a group of scientists agree on…waiting for him to bring that definition so that we can discuss the science.

  41. Sexual orientation is a social construct used to describe a pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, both genders, neither gender, or another gender.

    I think that’s a fair statement. The concept of sexual orientation is a way of thinking about, decribing and predicting a reality — it is not the reality itself, any more than the map is the actual hills and valleys.

    According to the American Psychological Association, sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of “personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them.

    This also seems fair. This concept of orientation seems to be mutli-layered. It takes into account: (1) the emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions, (2) the behaviors, (3) the sense of personal and social identity and (4) possibly membership in a community of similar persons.

    I have all of these, so the construct “gay” fits very well. So I wonder, how much of this would we have to have to be able to use the “construct” of straight or heterosexual in a meaningful or useful way? Would just attraction be enough — or would we need the others?

  42. Thank you Warren – yes, there is a working definition of orientation or there would be no studies at all. That we don’t understand orientation entirely is another matter Eddy – Scientists still don’t completely understand gravity but they know it exists and they are still able to run experiments on it.

  43. Constructs are maps, not the hills and valleys. They are tools. Ex-gay, gay, straight, homosexual, bisexual — all of these are maps. If we try to travel one that does not fit our reality, we may experience great pain. And no map can promise a journey without mishap.

  44. David–

    Sorry about missing the joke. Michael doesn’t like it when I use ‘LOL’ and we’ve had more than a few occasions when a smiley face at the end of a comment actually concealed bared teeth. Our own dysfunctional blog family!

  45. I just tried to post a response, but I am guessing comments are closed on this thread?

  46. Ann, then replace “everything” with whatever you meant, it amounts to the same thing.

    Perhaps that is what you want to believe about me – I just don’t know. It is important to quote someone accurately and when I pointed that out to you, as you requested earlier that I do if I see something, you seem to answer it with your own form of contempt towards a concern I expressed. I understand how the words have a similarity, however, that does not equate to your understanding of it as the only one.

  47. (I can almost feel the searches going on right now to find a juicy example of my own faults, lol.)

    I wouldn’t even know what to look for and don’t want to purposely find things that have the potential to hurt me anyway. It is never about who is what or how they live, etc. – it is always about how we interact with and treat each other as equal. Everything else grows from that foundation.

  48. Ann, then replace “everything” with whatever you meant, it amounts to the same thing.

    Eddy, that you label my comments attacks (both of them yet) pretty much sums up where things stand here. For the record, I didn’t read Bussee’s comment. I noticed an email from the thread form my earlier participation and I thought my comment was a valid one. This thread has really soured so I’ll leave it at that.

    PS: About the searches Eddy, it was a JOKE for goodness sakes. Good grief.

    Have a good day.

  49. (I can almost feel the searches going on right now to find a juicy example of my own faults, lol.)

    Can’t recall Ann ever reporting of such a search. Can’t recall of concerned doing one either. I had one notable entanglement with Michael where I did search this blogsite for things he had said that I felt were either contradictory or confusing. Otherwise, I always stuck with this blog and to relatively recent comments. Anyway, not sure if your somewhat disparaging remark has much basis in reality.

  50. Please do not mis-quote me – my statement did not say that everything at xgw goes with being questioned or tempered.

    That is without being questioned or tempered

  51. In addition, Ann, your statement that everything at XGW goes without being questioned or tempered (moderated) is false.

    Please do not mis-quote me – my statement did not say that everything at xgw goes with being questioned or tempered.

  52. David–

    Already did that substitution. We’ve had lots of issues here with people painting with a very wide brush…laying out somewhat generalized charges to advance a point they refuse to make with logic. I’ve stated quite specifically on numerous occasions that I will challenge such broad brush statements simply so that we can get at the basic underlying truth.

    So, I’m trying to get the ‘scientific Jayhuck’ to actually speak his science and Michael drops in with an unrelated point about ‘the damages caused by the ex-gay construct’. I see you had no problem with that. I at least hinted in a follow up comment that we also haven’t evaluated which pains were caused by the ex-gay construct and which were a part of the persons own baggage.

    Michael, for example, went with the ‘ex-gay construct’ even before it formally existed. Can we lay the cause for that pain or damage on the ‘ex-gay construct’? And, although he left the construct behind over 30 years ago, his life still has pain–much of it related to homosexuality. Can we lay the cause for that pain on the ‘ex-gay construct’? This site is famous for laying blame on ‘ex-gays’ and on Conservative Christians…often with a generalized, broad brush kind of statement.

    Even now, your first attack on concerned was based on his use of the term ‘so-called’; your second attack was based on his use of the word ‘condemnation’ even though he was suggesting that it’s ‘ex-gays’ or conservatives who are being condemned. You then elevate that to speech that is damning! Very impressive! Pronouncing a blog judgement (see: damning) him while suggesting that he is damning others by charging that they condemn. Almost dizzying!

  53. I am not XGW. This is my personal comment on another site with a different focus. If you have some example of me questioning the pain of those who do not feel congruent with their sexual orientation, please let me know and I will address it.

    I am not going to do the work that is so obvious to anyone reading exgay watch – if you feel the people who comment to others on that site do so without contempt then I will leave it to your conscious. You once invited me to participate on that site and I was looking forward to it until I saw how others with differing views were viciously attacked with contempt – I decided I did not want to be the next casualty. As to your comment that you are not xgw – I want to believe that and will.

  54. In addition, Ann, your statement that everything at XGW goes without being questioned or tempered (moderated) is false. It is a rough job keeping discussion open enough to allow free exchange while dissuading the kind of comments you are talking about, but we do try.

    A lot gets said here from the other direction so I suspect Warren can identify with that as well. But XGW and this site serve very different purposes. If we (XGW) do our job, both sides of the debate have fewer charlatans and predators to worry about..

    I’m not going to pretend that I have never said something in the extreme, either out of lack of full knowledge or just plain frustration, but I usually get called on it by someone.

    (I can almost feel the searches going on right now to find a juicy example of my own faults, lol.)

  55. And therefore it is important that the pain of those who wish to leave the bondage of sexual sin must also be respectedb without condemnation by those who choose to remain in it.

    You just can’t speak without that condemnation in there can you. Again, you might get a reasonable discussion, at least from me, if you were a tad less damning in your comments.

  56. Are you kidding? This is a constant occurance on exgay watch and is never questioned or tempered.

    Ann, I am not XGW. This is my personal comment on another site with a different focus. If you have some example of me questioning the pain of those who do not feel congruent with their sexual orientation, please let me know and I will address it.

    Eddy, if you want to quibble with semantics, then replace the word damage for pain in my comment. When someone tells me candidly that they feel damaged by an experience, whether it’s the person Warren used as an example in this thread, or a past client of an ex-gay therapist or group, I tend to take them at their word.

  57. David,

    Questioning the pain of others is hardly a good way to elicit respect for your own request. Perhaps speaking without so much contempt would help.

    And therefore it is important that the pain of those who wish to leave the bondage of sexual sin must also be respectedb without condemnation by those who choose to remain in it.

  58. It might also be presumptive to assume that the use of ‘so-called’ in association with ‘damage’ is questioning the pain. The fact that ‘damage’ was bolded led me to believe that concerned was reacting to Michael’s hyperbolic speech…not all pain rises to the level of ‘damage’.

  59. Questioning the pain of others is hardly a good way to elicit respect for your own request. Perhaps speaking without so much contempt would help.

    Are you kidding? This is a constant occurance on exgay watch and is never questioned or tempered.

  60. We have heard of the so-called damage that has been done by …

    Questioning the pain of others is hardly a good way to elicit respect for your own request. Perhaps speaking without so much contempt would help.

  61. There are parameters within which to discuss definitions, but the reality is much muddier.

    I think the more one has been hurt by homosexuality, the more sensitive they are to definitions that others impose on them that they no longer want. Rarely is any regard give to how an individual defines themselves and to have that respected.

    On a lighter note – speaking of definitions and sensitivities to them – notice what happens next time you mis-pronounce the name of a child in front of their parent. Most assurdedly, you will be corrected – it is usually swift and definitive.

  62. Jayhuck–

    Sexual orientation also has a definition given it by a group of scientists.

    I had the Wiki definition which we both discussed from. You’ve alluded to this definition ‘given it by a group of scientists’. Please share that definition here so that we can evaluate from the same page.

    Please don’t hedge. It appears to be a major part of your refuting of my arguments. I have been cordial and ask that you support your statement by providing that scientific definition.

  63. There are working definitions of sexual orientation but I wouldn’t say that the deal is done. The APA differentiated sexual orientation and sexual orientation identity which I think is similar to what Yarhouse and I have proposed – a differentiation of desire and identity. Even then, if you read very deeply into studies of sexual orientation, you will find debates over what kind of measures to use – single item, multiple items, etc., should desire and behavior be assessed, etc.

    There are parameters within which to discuss definitions, but the reality is much muddier.

    This really should not be a topic that generates so much heat. There are good arguments to be made for various views. I am incredibly weary of every post turning into arguments over essentially the same thing. Shane, you are new here so perhaps you were keying off the uncivility of some of the posts but my aim is to keep it civil amidst the disagreement.

  64. Michael,

    We have heard of the so-called damaged that has been done by those who have gone to ex-gay ministries and failed to change as they thought they would, only to turn against such ministries in their own frustration. I think it is time to put some of the focus on people who have suffered a great deal for attempting to live out a gay life that does not fit their own personal values and to examine how that has damaged their relationships with friends and family. Why is it so taboo to even consider this as damaging?

  65. Michael–

    I have no problem with your observation. The issue I’ve been addressing is the non-scientific applications of ‘social contructs’.

    Oh, and the answer to your question is ‘yes, some have been damaged and there seem to be a number of people devoted to exposing and exploring those damages. Some of these are examiners are even within the ‘ex-gay culture’.

    Conversely, has anyone ever examined those who claim to be damaged by the ex-gay social construct to evaluate which of their damages are appropriate to charge to the ex-gays and which are a part of the baggage of their lives?

    Jayhuck–

    As usual, you aren’t following from beginning to end in the conversation. You said that science has yet to prove successful reorientation; I countered with the fact that science hasn’t yet adequately defined orientation…doesn’t even agree globally that it exists…discusses it as a social construct and somewhat arbitrarily. My premise is that if they haven’t even nailed ‘it’ down (orientation) then it’s quite understandable that they have problems studying and/or proving RE-orientation.

    I cited also that those who have attempted to evaluate RE-orientation seem to focus on one aspect of the rather large definition of ‘orientation’…sexual attraction. Ignoring significant reorientation in emotional or romantic attractions (also a part of the definition) and similarly ignoring identification with the group that shares those attraction (another significant part of the definition).

    When we arbitrarily pick and choose our way through a definition, it ain’t science even if it’s done in the name of science. Quack-science…perhaps. Biased science…most likely.

    It was science that once thought the world was flat. They studied, evaluated, considered and postulated…they simply didn’t realize that their preconceived notions biased their studies so thoroughly.

  66. What about the damage that some people have experienced who have give their lives to the social construct you call “ex-gay”?

    Is anyone willing to look at the harm being done in people’s lives who give themselves over to that social construct?

    What level of personal responsibility, if any, should an individual take for their participation in something that they claim is harming them or continuing to damage them?

  67. Eddy,

    Sexual orientation also has a definition given it by a group of scientists. I’m not sure what you mean by “the rest of the world” but there are many groups around the world that don’t “buy into” other areas of science as well – that does not mean those things are not real or do not exist.

  68. Shane,

    I consider myself a serious and critical thinker as Ann does but have no idea what you are going on about – you seem upset about something, calling my posts mindless drivel, which is not how you go about having a serious and mature conversation with someone.

  69. Eddy,

    I thought we were talking about the Social Sciences, not terms used in those Sciences? I was only stating that the Social Sciences are indeed science. Terms like sexual orientation, heterosexuality, homosexuality, etc, are terms (and sometimes social constructs) that are used in those disciplines.

  70. Ex-gay is a social construct.

    What about the damage that some people have experienced who have give their lives to the social construct you call “ex-gay”?

    Is anyone willing to look at the harm being done in people’s lives who give themselves over to that social construct?

  71. That therapist should have made a referral. Apparently, the value conflict was so great that the therapist apparently was not able to get past it.

    Sometimes it isn’t just a value conflict, rather, an opinionated therpaist who has unresolved issues themselves and vicariously uses the client to resolve them. In other words, if the therapist is having or has had an unresolved conflict that is similar to the client’s issue, their unchecked impulse might be to incorporate their bias based on their experiences into the sessions. This temporarily might feel good for the therapist, however, could slant the progress of the client, not to mention taking advantage of them and their vulnerabilities for the therapist’s benefit.

  72. I must get me to a blog with serious thinkers. It’s been…amusing in some respects.

    Shane,

    Please keep commenting here – I am a serious and critical thinker and appreciate your logic.

  73. Jayhuck–

    The rest of the world DOES NOT call it science…if you’ll consult those Wiki quotes again–the ones we discussed less than 24 hours ago– you’ll see that sexual orientation is considered a social construct in Western civilization and that much of the world doesn’t buy into it.

    I’m inclined to agree with Shane.

  74. A word to Shane – do a simple good search on sexuality, heterosexuality and social or cultural construct

    You think that because something occurs in a search on_ the_ net that it is the product of science? Of course you don’t, yet you can’t help yourself. You spout the kind of mindless drivel heard in courses with names like “Queer Studies” probably because it makes you feel better, probably because you need it for some kind of validation since you have not found that validation within. That’s fine with me until you claim such blather as “science.” At that point you have stepped into my world and so I must call you on your inanities.

    Or do you think that babies _are _made_ in _heaven? From a “social construct.”

    I must get me to a blog with serious thinkers. It’s been…amusing in some respects.

  75. I was thinking that romantic love might be less well defined than sexual orientation, but now I’m not so sure – it looks like the word romance has changed over time and there are some who believe Romance itself is a cultural construct! –

    A word to Shane – do a simple good search on sexuality, heterosexuality and social or cultural construct

  76. Eddy,

    Can you have romance without sexuality or sexual attraction – doesn’t romance sort of imply that sexual attraction is involved?

    I’ll call it science as the rest of the world does Eddy – whether you choose to or not matters little in the end. Social scientists, in many ways, have a tougher row to hoe so to speak because there are so many variables – but that does not mean that it isn’t a science

  77. Science may not yet have shown that reorientation works or does not work. My own experience is that science has not really made an attempt at determining if it works or not, it is to busy trying to prove that it is something innate in us all and rigidly set, which it has also failed to do. There has been much pseudoscience done to try to prove this to be true.

    What about the damage that some people have experienced who have give their lives to the social construct you call “gay”. No one is willing to look at the harm being done in peoples lives who give themselves over to that social construct.

  78. Okay back to the ‘scientific consensus’:

    Sexual orientation is a social construct used to describe a pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, both genders, neither gender, or another gender. .”[

    To my knowledge the few people who have tried to assess re-orientation scientifically have neglected emotional and romantic attractions to major on sexual attraction only.

    According to the American Psychological Association, sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of “personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them.

    Further, those who have attempted to study re-orientation seem to have missed this sentence altogether. “Ex-gays” have chosen NOT TO base their personal and social identity on those attractions; they reject the behaviors and no longer behave or identify as members of the community of other who share the attractions. Once again, they fumble with their own definition and go the level of ‘do you still have attractions?’ Even those who have developed opposite sex attractions are discounted if they acknowledge that they also have occasional same-sex attractions.

    You can call that science if you want to but it’s got too much subjectivism and is a bit too arbitrary to qualify, IMHO.

  79. heterosexuality is a social construct,

    This is a fatuous, supremely ignorant statement made by someone who then goes on to argue what is and what isn’t science. I assume you wish people to take you seriously. Good luck with that.

  80. Doesn’t sound like science? Just because its a social science doesn’t mean its not science Eddy – you’re trying to compare social sciences with the natural sciences and while their methods of research and inquiry might be similar, you can’t compare gravity to sexual orientation.

    And I know many people who do that very thing with Evolution – they don’t believe in it or it doesn’t suit them so they choose not to accept it or redefine it in a particular way

    As far as gravity, its still a “theory” in terms of science anyway and has undergone several different definitions over time

  81. There has to be a working definition of sexual orientation or no one can talk about it and no one can study it – Are you saying science doesn’t use social constructs? You would be wrong

  82. Here – I agree with this APA conclusion regarding this issue

    In 2009 the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) and concluded:

    Efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates. Even though the research and clinical literature demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, regardless of sexual orientation identity, the task force concluded that the population that undergoes SOCE tends to have strongly conservative religious views that lead them to seek to change their sexual orientation. Thus, the appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for those who seek SOCE involves therapist acceptance, support, and understanding of clients and the facilitation of clients’ active coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, without imposing a specific sexual orientation identity outcome.[41]

    No major mental health professional organization has sanctioned efforts to change sexual orientation and virtually all of them have adopted policy statements cautioning the profession and the public about treatments that purport to change sexual orientation. These include the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Counseling Association, National Association of Social Workers in the USA[42], the Royal College of Psychiatrists[43], and the Australian Psychological Society[44].

    The American Psychological Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists expressed concerns that the positions espoused by NARTH are not supported by the science and create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.[45][43]

    Yes – for that group of people for whom being gay is just not an option due to conservative religious beliefs, I think that therapists have to help them as best they can or refer them

    It must be very difficult to help someone suffering from something that is not a disease – I can imagine many referrals going on – as they should though, so that the client is able to see someone that can truly help them

  83. LOL. ‘usually discussed in terms of’–that doesn’t sound like science.

    ‘the continuum doesn’t suit everyone’–hmm. We don’t say that about things like gravity,

    By the way, I don’t have a problem with social constructs either except when people interpret them as science rather than what they are.

    But its far too beautiful a day to waste. Maybe later.

  84. We can go on with the Wiki article:

    Though people may use other labels, or none at all,[2] sexual orientation is usually discussed in terms of three categories: heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual; and asexual is increasingly recognized as a fourth. The first three orientations exist along a continuum that ranges from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual, including various forms of bisexuality in-between. The continuum between heterosexual and homosexual does not suit everyone, however, as some people identify as asexual.[3] This linear scale is a simplification of the much more nuanced nature of sexual orientation and sexual identity; many sexologists believe it to be oversimplified.[4]

  85. Eddy,

    I see no problem with social constructs – heterosexuality is a social construct, as is homosexuality – there are many many social constructs we accept and use on a daily basis

  86. Eddy,

    The fact that some people identify as anything has nothing to do with their having to be a working definition of orientation for scientists – be they social scientists or natural scientists

  87. Sociology is not science? I believe the APA has a fine definition of what Orientation is

    I didn’t get the sense that she was wanting to explore goals and values – I got the sense that the person already knew what their goals and values were and were looking for a counselor that aligned with them – again, if I were a Christian wanting someone to respect my religious values, it doesn’t seem a stretch to look for a Christian counselor

    Yes – I already acknowledge that she answered my question adequately

    respect the values and goals of the client within reason

    Absolutely – I agree – WITHIN REASON!

  88. If I were a conservative Christian I would immediately seek out a therapist I know is going to believe what I believe period, especially if I’m so concerned about the therapist respecting my “values”.

    Herein lies the flaw in your comment – way too many “I’s”. The person who wrote Warren was referring to herself – not you. It is a great big world out there with lots of people who have their own thoughts and experiences – it is not just about you.

  89. Jayhuck–

    Why did you stop quoting in the middle of the paragraph? Did the last two sentences disagree with your point?

    The continuum between heterosexual and homosexual does not suit everyone, however, as some people identify as asexual.[3] This linear scale is a simplification of the much more nuanced nature of sexual orientation and sexual identity; many sexologists believe it to be oversimplified.[4]

    And do you see that term ‘social construct’ in the part you quoted? It’s a fine-sounding term but it belongs to sociology not science.

  90. Jayhuck–

    I used ‘off-point’ not ‘off-topic’. “Person”, in the main topic, shared her experiences with a therapist who did not respect her values. The point was that professional therapists should adhere to the guidelines, should refrain from injecting their values and should respect the values and goals of the client within reason.

    “Person” then answered your query quite adequately. Besides the issue of insurance coverage, there might be other very legitimate reasons why a person wouldn’t choose a Christian counselor. A person who doesn’t want to be steered in any way, who simply wants a safe environment where they can explore their own goals and values–that person would likely steer away from a Christian-identified counselor because the Christian label implies at least a small degree of expectation on the part of the counselor. “You and I believe this…therefore…”

  91. There is a definition and what seems to pass for a scientific consensus on what orientation means though – it had to be constructed somewhere at some point in time – all definitions and labels are;

    from Wikipedia;

    Sexual orientation is a social construct used to describe a pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, both genders, neither gender, or another gender. According to the American Psychological Association, sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of “personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them.”[1]

  92. From Wiki…footnote numbers deleted for clarity:

    Sexual orientation is a concept that evolved in the industrialized West and there is a controversy as to the universality of its application in other societies or cultures.As philosopher Michel Foucault wrote, “‘Sexuality’ is an invention of the modern state, the industrial revolution, and capitalism.” Non-westernized concepts of male sexuality differ essentially from the way sexuality is seen and classified under the system of Sexual Orientation. The validity of the notion of ‘sexual orientation’ has also been questioned within the industrialized Western society.

    It seems that there is no scientific evidence supporting ‘orientation’ so it would be logical that science is stumbling over ‘re-orientation’ as well.

  93. Eddy,

    I don’t think its off topic at all to wonder why a person with what I’m assuming are Christian values did not seek out a Christian therapist. If I were a conservative Christian I would immediately seek out a therapist I know is going to believe what I believe period, especially if I’m so concerned about the therapist respecting my “values”. It doesn’t seem like a hard decision to make – although I understand that the person who talked to Warren obviously had some problems in this regard.

  94. PWTTW –

    I agree with you and most of Warren’s SIT framework – however, we cannot state outright that all values must be respected – if they are values that cause no harm to yourself or others, then I would agree they should be respected – however, some values are harmful and should not be respected – the therapist does in fact have to sometimes say no, this is not a good thing –

    The therapist also has a responsibility to convey to the client the truth regarding the science surrounding sexual orientation – that reorientation therapy doesn’t really work – that being gay is not a disease in need of a cure, that gay people can and do live very happy, satisfying lives, etc, etc.

    BUT, if the client understands all this and still wishes to seek out therapy that aligns with their values and that helps them live a celibate life, assuming sex and sexual orientation are the issue, then I’m all for that.

    I think its important to understand that ALL values cannot be respected though – unhealthy values are the ones that come to my mind

  95. reorientation does not work

    This is a generalization not a fact and does not respect what people find for themselves. I would have to say that I have tried to live according to someones idea of acceptance of being gay and it did not work for me, in fact, it caused me much turmoil. So would I be correct in concluding that living a gay life does not work and is damaging. It has been for me, I suspect there are some on this site that would not agree with this statement and some that would. In any case in the end all that matters is how I have been affected by this experience and what I did with it in the end.

  96. In answer to a question, no a Christian therapist was not an option. I was a graduate student at a state university and had no mental health coverage on my extremely basic insurance except for visits to the school’s on-staff psychiatrist for 15 minute med checks occasionally. The free student counseling center was my only choice. Later on I did go to a Christian clinic that gave me some free sessions on the basis of income, but they were virtually useless as I was assigned a trainee therapist and while we all have to learn, and I am a healthcare professional so I was a trainee once too and understand fully, it wasn’t a good thing for me. I had a very complicated past and was in the earlier stages of developing what was not yet known to be a very complex and not easily identifiable case of a serious mental health disorder that would take many more years and an expert in the disorder to diagnose, and I was overwhelming to her. This resulted in therapy being useless as she didn’t know how to help me with anything more than superficial things that I struggled to deal with because I had poor social skills, the developing storm of severe mental illness, and a past that was far beyond her ability to help me process. So after my free sessions I paid for a few and realized it wasn’t worth spending all of my tiny income on not being helped. So I quit.

    Throughout grad school I did try the student center a few more times. Each time had horrid results. One person refused to accept my explanation of “I was born shy. Being assertive is not easy for me” and insisted mightily that I was ignoring the consequences of the child abuse in my past, that I needed to accept that I was always going to be impaired by my past. That one wouldn’t let me believe that I first, already succeeded in dealing with a great deal of my past very successfully, and second, that I had a chance of ever living a “normal” life simply because I was abused. I didn’t even re-schedule with her. I think there were one or two more and always I came out worse than I started.

    Eddy is correct though. I should be able to adhere to my own values in therapy no matter what the therapist believes. Currently my therapist is not only a psychologist but an ordained pastor. So the treatment is very respectful of my values. At the same time there are things that he and I disagree fundamentally on. I can think of one thing in particular which is too complex to explain, but I know that my therapists’ personal ethics do not agree with something I openly do. We’ve never discussed this much, but enough to know that we don’t agree. Yet he would never do anything to attempt to inflict his values over mine in the situation because the reality is that it is my life and my place to determine what I feel is right or wrong.

    That simple thing needs to be a fundamental part of therapy, because otherwise there is this enormous area of mistrust and avoidance of a topic. Or, in the case of the grad school therapist, there is out and out conflict which impedes or in my case, stops all progress. In my case it stopped progress for years and contributed to a bad situation getting much, much worse than it might have had I not refused to see any and all therapists for years after grad school.

    Further, it’s not practical to say that if you want to work with Christian values you must see a Christian therapist. Where I live there aren’t many options to begin with, then if you want insurance to cover you are further limited. And then if you have specific needs it is even more unlikely you are going to find a Christian therapist covered by insurance. In my case I just don’t use insurance. I am fortunate to be able to afford this, as long as I give up on spending much on clothes, entertainment, vacations, etc. If my income did not allow this, would you then expect me to not see a therapist? (And yes, I do receive assistance from the provider because of the long-term nature of my treatment and the substantial cost; regardless I still spend about 20% of my annual income on my mental illness plus the physical issues resulting from years of strong psychotropics.)

    One of the things that I also can say is that a therapist adjusting to my needs inevitably helps me more. When I started with this therapist I briefly explained my past and then told him that it was not something that we would spend a lot of time on unless or until I said it was time. I did not want him to spend the first 6 months of treatment relating everything to my past. Four years later we are talking about some of the last taboo subject and it is only now that doing so would have been helpful. Had he not respected my wishes it would have only been traumatic, not therapeutic. And he was able to do this without not doing his job; he would relate things to “when you have had difficulties with _______- in the past this can be part of it. Do you want to talk about that?” and that way my boundaries were respected and he did his job, effectively.

    In an ideal world we could all find the precise therapist for us. After years of many therapists I can give a pretty thorough description of what seems to work best for me; the two therapists who have been significantly best for me have many traits in common even with different styles of therapy. But when the person I see now retires it’s not like I’ll be able to enter those traits into a database and find that person. Which is why it is the job of the therapist to adjust to what I want/need, and believe me I am not asking them to go against research, ethics or normal bounds of therapy since that seems to keep coming up, and if they can’t do that it is time to refer.

  97. 1) Reorientation is not the point or the focus of this thread; ‘living in congruence with one’s values’ is. SIT is not reorientation therapy.

    2) It’s off-point to question why she didn’t go to a Christian therapist. If the standards of psychiatry are that the therapist does not inject or push their own values, then it shouldn’t matter.

  98. What I don’t understand is, if the person was a Christian and was concerned about her beliefs being valued, why did she not seek out a Christian counselor? Was one not available?

  99. I agree Warren, but its not a “belief” to say that being gay is not a disease in need of a cure, or that reorientation therapy works! And, as always, NO therapist can simply cater to the whims of patients (I know that’s not what you’re suggesting but I can’t help stating what I hope is the obvious), especially if it flies in the face of prevailing research – you know that – I’m sure all therapists worth their salt know that.

  100. Dear “Person who talked to Warren,”

    Thank you for such authentic and courageous chronicling of your fight for life, your story of healing. Cheering you on –

  101. And, in the spirit of fairness, I think Michael has addressed this before. Whatever differences we may have here on the blogsite, when it comes to the professional ethics of therapy, we agree. I commend him for that. (LOL. Not for agreeing with me…for believing and adhering to the professional ethics.)

  102. Mary asked:

    Just to be clear, if a client came to you and talked about same sex attraction and those were the words he used would you call him gay, in front of him, and let him know your thoughts on his attractions?

    No, to make it clear. I woud NOT do such a thing. I use whatever language the client uses. If she says “gay”, I say “gay”. If he says “same sex attractions”, I use those words. Counseling is not about the therapist imposting labels or values on a client. I have never done what you asked. Never will.

  103. David and to The Person,

    I apologize for my flippant comment. David I just read your response and was pleasantly surprised at how understanding you seem to be. Sorry for writing such a comment without thought.

  104. To the person,

    I’ve not read the other responses here, but it seems you are talking to me from your references. Let me clarify that I never said or even implied that Warren made anything up. I was questioning the accuracy or at least the detail of the description given to him by the person (you).

    Perhaps if I could show you the books I have bought just to verify what someone said was or wasn’t in them, you would then understand my reluctance to believe that you went to a therapist and were given a book on how to be a lesbian. Your more detailed explanation does help frame things better, although in that case the therapist doesn’t sound worthy of a license to me.

    In any event, I agreed with the premise and said so. In another thread I was quite clear that I do not think a therapist should interject their own value system into the patient/client relationship — and that goes for those who bill themselves as Christian therapists and counselors as well.

    I’ve had my own negative experiences, and also stayed away from help (10 years) because of it. When I did go back I found a great psychiatrist who did not classify herself by faith. To this day I don’t know what her faith was or if she had any — she dealt with me and what was important to me (my faith is Christian). I found this much more effective than a Christian therapist who did his own version of what happened to you.

    So no, I did not question Warren’s veracity but only the information he received. It makes more sense now than it did, though I think you got a lousy therapist. One certainly can’t have an effective therapeutic relationship without trusting the therapist in a safe atmosphere.

  105. Ok, so apparently some of you think Warren made me up. I just want to be anonymous. I’m real and I’m not talking about anything like Cohen or aiming at any such target. In fact although I know who Cohen is I don’t even know why my experience would be anything like a Cohen thing. I’m fairly sure Warren couldn’t make me up if he tried, although he’d have to speak to that.

    Of course the book wasn’t called “how to be a lesbian”. We aren’t telling you the title because since I did not read more than a few pages I would only open myself up for attack that this book is absolutely wonderful. Which it could be, unless you are a traumatized young woman who needs to first accept sex within her own values, then possibly expand into other veiwpoints. I have referred to it as such, because it was actually a book on accepting female sexuality (in a way much different than my Christian values accept), and when I flipped it open the random chapter I found was, pretty literally, a step by step guide to lesbian sex. Which didn’t really cure the sexual abuse issues I was trying to resolve. The lesbian chapter may have been a small part of it; I don’t know because I didn’t read it because I was traumatized. Not because of any horror at the lesbian thing, but because this was so far from what was helpful to me and because I was horrified that the therapist I had trusted had listened so little to what I had said. It was no different than sending home with a pornography tape; it was inappropriate for me, whether it was effective for other people. In my sessions she was treating ME. I simply wasn’t used to this in therapy as previous therapists had never ignored what I stated was so basic to my thinking. The book also described many other aspects of sex that are not relevant to my choice of worldview (ie multiple partners, sex outside of marriage, pornography. These are my choices, and my therapist is being paid to abide by my choices whether she agrees or not). Which is why it is such a good example of a therapist totally ignoring my values, and in effect further traumatizing me. The lack of respect for my belief system also cost me 4 years of not trusting mental health professionals enough to be diagnosed with a rather serious condition that very nearly cost me everything I’ve worked for in life and which would have benefitted greatly from earlier diagnosis.

    On the other hand, to show that if she had worked with me she might have helped, a few years later I was able to read a few books about sex from a Christian perspective and become comfortable enough to function in a career where sexuality is sometimes addressed. All I needed was to NOT be told that promiscuity was the only way to recover from severe sexual abuse (which was another of her statements), that only through multiple partners (and experimenting with sex with both genders as an option, probably the point of the chapter I randomly opened to), and that I could develop the ability to function in a world with a lot of emphasis on sex while still staying true to what I believed, not just what book she happened to be familiar with and use as a blanket solution for an issue like I was presenting.

    Ever since that bad experience I have lived with a terror of changing therapists. I positively refuse to see someone who is not Christian oriented and have traveled over 5000 miles per year for 7 years, and not used my insurance benefits to have this. In fact, after that happened I was so reluctant to see any therapist, Christian or not, that it took a pretty serious fixation on suicide before I sought help, even after years of knowing I needed it.

    I feel that if I am paying someone to help me live my life, then that person needs to abide by what I believe, whether they disagree or not. They are welcome to open ideas that are outside of my original thinking, but they are also expected to allow me to chose my own values. My current therapist and I certainly disagree on certain things, but in those areas we work on my perspective, not what he thinks it should be. His job is to help me be the most successful I can be within the context of my own life and values, not to make me into someone I’m not just because he thinks something different than I do.

    I’m sorry if you’ve read something like this before. Maybe you stumbled onto my blog; I’ve certainly written about this in some form before. Maybe that therapist did this to more than one person. Maybe it’ s not unique. But it is very real, and very significant to me. And I am far from a figment of Warren’s imagination or just someone he made up.

  106. I am making no claim that it is ALL that I am, that it is inborn or that there are not many gradations, nuances and complexities to our experience of our own sexuality. Just that my “orientation” — my internal compass needle — has always pointed South — not North. I am gay. It “fits” me. If some other word fits you — or if no words do — that’s perfectly OK by me

    Just to be clear, if a client came to you and talked about same sex attraction and those were the words he used would you call him gay, in front of him, and let him know your thoughts on his attractions? Or would you acknowledge that he has a different view and refer him on to someone else?

  107. I think the Kinsey Scale is all we have had to work from for many years and I do not feel that it is in any way descriptive of many peoples experience. I prefer the work that Robert Epstein has been doing. It describes the variety of attraction along a continuum rather than compartments. The compartmentalization and labelling is a thing the we humans seem to need to do. Nature is not like that, most character traits follow a continuum and offer some flexibility and growth along this continuum.

    Having said this, however, I do not believe that morality is a relative issue as it ties into how we relate to one another as a community.

  108. The sexual identity therapy framework allows for such referrals while at the same time requiring respect for clients and their values.

    How do therapists know about the SITF? Is it a framework that is optional for them to use if they even know about it or part of the APA guidelines?

  109. Yes, I very much get that. It would be absurd to believe that they could, would or should be the same. There are as many varieties of internal experience as there are people. I love coconut. My sister has always despised it. She think it tastes like soap. What would you call my fondnesss for it and her aversion to it?

    That’s her experience. No word or set of words can completely capture the internal experience of a person. Gay, straight, homosexual, etc. cannot ever adequately describe the totality of a person or their awarness of themselves.

    When I say that I am gay, I am only talking about the internal experience of being attracted only to the same sex. Just that. The subjective, phenomenological experience of only being attracted to my own gender not the other one.

    I am making no claim that it is ALL that I am, that it is inborn or that there are not many gradations, nuances and complexities to our experience of our own sexuality. Just that my “orientation” — my internal compass needle — has always pointed South — not North. I am gay. It “fits” me. If some other word fits you — or if no words do — that’s perfectly OK by me.

  110. We get it Michael. Do you understand that people have a different view of themsleves? Do you get it?

  111. I do know that it is very much an individual’s call to name, identify, live as they view it.

    Amen

  112. Well, I agree – I’m not much of an advocate for the Kinsey scale myself and really don’t know how the varieties of sexual attraction should be modeled or scaled or measured. I do know that it is very much an individual’s call to name, identify, live as they view it.

  113. Mary,

    That wasn’t exactly my point but I do see how it ties in.

    I stayed away from ‘the scale’ since to most it’s “the Kinsey Scale” and my point is that none of that has been pulled all together yet.

  114. Eddy, The point of my statment is that you are right a client can be anywhere on the scale and no one should flesh that out to mean that gay is gay is gay is gay.

  115. Evan–

    You appear to be using the word ‘change’ to mean ‘change of orientation’. Even while psychology holds to the notion of an inborn orientation, it has not yet been proven nor has it been adequately defined. It sees the two extremes of total homosexual attraction and of total heterosexual attraction but isn’t quite so comfortable with anything in the middle. I maintain that change of behavior is an acceptable therapeutic goal and also that modification of behaviors is similarly acceptable.

    (What I’m suggesting by the latter is an individual who finds themselves engaging in a homosexual behavior that they are somehow ‘at odds with’…perhaps they identify as gay…believe in monogamy…yet find themselves caught up in the bar pick-up scene or in cruising parks or restrooms.)

    If you take a behavior like gambling. There isn’t a universal take on whether it’s right or wrong. We agree that it’s wrong for a person who has an addiction to it but that wouldn’t prevent us from counseling a person who wasn’t an addict but wanted to modify or change their behavior. Our goal wouldn’t be to eradicate their desire to gamble but rather to help them take control when faced with the desire. It might also include helping them to identify stimuli that seem to encourage the desire. Measureable change would be ‘change of behavior’, ‘change in self-awareness’ and ‘change in response patterns’.

  116. …she sent me to the library to read a book that was essentially how to be a lesbian.

    I suspect that this was a book on spirtituality and self-acceptance. I can envision a therapist identifying the client’s spiritual concerns and wanting to expose her to others who had reconciled their spirituality with their lesbianism. If the book was indeed about spirituality and acceptance, then it likely had a chapter or two re ‘destroying the myths’…attacking the butch/femme stereotypes and the dyke bar imagery and would then likely suggest more ‘natural’ ways of hooking up. To a person who wasn’t seeking that kind of advice, this would seem like a ‘how to’ book.

    Just a hunch though.

  117. @Mary

    1. Research shows that women, although aroused by both sexes, tend to understand their attractions differently from what their bodies tell them. Either they lie or they don’t understand their attractions in the same way as men. It’s one thing what you understand by change and another what can be objectively measured as change. If a therapist claims that he can change someone’s personality, by changing also what biologically supports it, then he must put the evidence on the table or else it can be considered that he manipulates his clients, by changing some stuff ‘on the surface’ and making them believe they actually changed significantly. Clients are desperate and the therapist has means to manipulate them. They might actually not know that they already have been done…

    2. Therapy can be beneficial in many ways depending on where the patient was when they came into the therpists’ office. The therapist can help them change something intheir environment or behaviour which can make them believe that therapy was beneficial and they changed. They should be measured before and after to see what changed and how much. Clients are biased, just like any other consumer who buys a car and then looks for more reasons to like it, because they paid too much for it.

  118. I did change on my own and later had issues that I needed to deal with. The therapist hasbeen beneficial.

  119. …she sent me to the library to read a book that was essentially how to be a lesbian.

    Unless this therapist is a mirror image of Cohen, or there has to be more to the story. A book on how to be a lesbian? I could swear I have heard this very same story in another venue and I was suspicious of it then. This doesn’t detract from the premise, but perhaps there is a better example somewhere?

    And Mary, am I not correct that in the past you have stated that you “changed” on your own without the benefit of a therapist? I know you said you went to one later, but that would be a different matter than what you are suggesting here.

  120. Therapy should proceed according to research, right? This is the golden standard of medicine today: it’s called evidence-based intervention. There is no evidence that a therapeutic intervention can change or not change someone’s enduring patterns of arousal. Therapists are taking money out of nothing, whatever their name is. Their practice is not based on evidence, that is what I am saying here. If they can prove that their intervention produces neurological changes, then their bill is justified. Otherwise, it’s psycho-quackery. The burden of proof is with the one making the claim. No default credence should be conferred on anyone in this field. So, please, come first with the evidence, then make the claim. It’s as simple as that. I would actually ban any practice that is not based on evidence, based on consumer rights grounds. If the person pays his hard-earned money then the therapist must deliver his evidence-based intervention. It’s the 21st century, so let’s forget about this divination-style type of psychological therapy. The therapist shouldn’t be doing cold reading of sorts… If a pediatrician goes beyond his competence and prescribes something for which there is no evidence, he takes all responsibility for any lack of efficacy or bad effects. So should someone practising psychological counselling/therapy, in my view. If your intervention is not based on evidence-based efficacy, then you are not much different from a psychic. 🙂

    I think this answers your questions too, Mary…

  121. Visitor-mode here.

    “You deal with yours, I deal with mine”… Sexual perception is so basic that it might orient other realms too. We agree to disagree and to segregate according to ‘values’. When we cannot find a solution to a hard problem, it’s acceptable to split, to agree to disagree, that is to agree not to confront. Everyone wins, no one loses, and life flourishes. 🙂 ..Man, this is lame.

  122. Great example of a person who does not want to follow the crowd and truly does want to work within thier Christian framework. When I went looking for a therapist I wanted:

    1) Christian – and for some time

    2) Academically trained with over 15 years of experience

    3) Woman

    4) Someone older than myself by at least ten years (she is 5 years older than I – I think?)

    And a client deserves to be treated with respect to their values and beliefs (unless of course they are a sociopath or schizoid and need to be brought back to earth)

  123. Therapists are not machines and have strong beliefs about many things so when the conflict is great, referral is indicated.

    This is consistent with the professional training I recieved and I agree it is the professional and ethical thing to do.

Comments are closed.