Haitian heartbreak and hope: One story (video)

I posted this on my Christian Post blog a couple of days ago. I now have some video of the hospital referred to in the letter below. I have also learned we may have some Haitian orphans coming to our local community. The NT book of James 1:27 teaches:

Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Let’s do it. Here is the video.

A friend sent me an email from a priest in Haiti who is struggling to respond to the tragic earthquake. 

Hello Friends

After driving by night to Kennedy Airport January 12, and flying to Dominican Republic January 13, Conan and I arrived to Haiti this morning in the helicopter of the President of the Dominican Republic.

Our first tasks were the medical evacuation of one of our American volunteers, the medical evacuation of one of our Cuban doctors, the evacuation of the body if one of our American  visitors. 

The search still continues in the rubble for another missing American volunteer. 

We also had 18 funerals today.

One for John who works at our St Luke program. We miss John very much. He often stopped to at my door to tell me the milestone of his developing baby, which delighted him no end. John ran our computerized language lab. Another was for Johanne’s mother. Joanne is one of the directors of the St Luke program. All the others were of unknown people who were sadly rotting by the wayside.

Other sadnesses,

The death of Immacula, our only physician assistant, who worked at our huge outpatient side of our hospital.  The death of ALL but one of Joseph Ferdinands brothers and sisters, the death of the husband of Jacqueline Gautier as he was visiting a school which fell and all the students (all died), the death of our ex-pequeno Wilfrid Altisme who was in his 5th year of seminary for priesthood. Other stories of deaths of people who are dear to us keep coming in.

We spent the rest of the time managing the countless people with serious and severe wounds, coming to our hospital. We are doing our best for them, under trees and in the parking lot with ever diminishing supplies. We will work throughout the night and beyond. No stores are open, no banks are open. Diesel is running out. Will be out in two days if we don’t find a solution, which will mean no power at all. The hospital is without water since there is some broken line between the well and the water tower.

Structural damages to the hospital seem superficial at first glance, but about half the outer perimeter walls have fallen. The old hospital in Petionville is in ruins, And teams of workers, led by Ferel, and been digging for Molly non stop around the clock.

WE HAVE NO INTERNET. OUR PHONES DO NOT WORK. IF A CALL DOES GET THROUGH WE CAN’T HEAR OR BE HEARD. Robin has internet access through a satellite. I asked her to send this message for me, and to ready my emails and answer them as best she can for now.

Please continue to pray for us. We pray for you too.

Fr Rick Frechette

First things first. This dear man works with Friends of the Orphans in Haiti. You can help him directly by going to their website (friendsoftheorphans.com) and making a donation. He is an MD who runs the hospital there and has given away all of his supplies. In a tragic circumstance, one can turn away from hope or toward it. In the midst of so much heartbreak, Father Rick is choosing hope and we should choose to help. Now would be a good time.

For other helping opportunities, click here.

Haiti: How to help

There are many ways to help but I want to list several here:

Donate $10 to the Red Cross to be charged to your cell phone bill by texting “HAITI” to “90999.” 

  • Contribute online to the Red Cross
  • World Vision
  • Salvation Army
  • Doctors without Borders
  • Friends of the Orphans
  • Find more ways to help through the Center for International Disaster Information. (This website is quite slow, probably due to traffic)
  • My church, the Evangelical Free Church in America has this portal for more information and a way to help.

    I know there are many church groups who are reaching out. Commenters, if you hear of credible, reliable sources and initiatives, please post them.

    And. Pray.

    What Happened Yesterday?

    (What it Might Have Been Like for Victims)

    by David Blakeslee

    I got up. I got dressed. I hugged my children. I called a friend. I went to work. I packed my bag for a prolonged business trip. I went to lunch. I then went to the doctor’s office for a final check on my health and then, to get my teeth cleaned.

    I was traveling for my work to a place where it might be hard to get medical attention. I sat down in the waiting room. I found a magazine, Sports Illustrated, to read. I flipped the pages and I looked around the room. I saw some friends from other parts of the company, smiling and talking to each other. Every few minutes a person left the room and every few minutes a new person came in the room. It was a strange feeling, not knowing all of them, but being bound by similar work and a similar mission.

    I glanced down at my magazine, the Raiders continue to lose and look terrible. The Phillies are behind in the World Series, I know better, they already lost.. Pop…Pop Pop…Pop…Pop. Scream, crash. Pop…Pop…Pop, Pop, Pop. I know the sound. I am on the ground. I look in the direction of the Pop sound, a man with two guns commands the attention of the room. He is dressed like me. He looks like me. I look to others dressed like me, some are groaning, some wailing, some are whimpering, curled up in the corner as he approaches. Pop…Pop…Pop. I am panicked now. While his attention is turned I jump and run farther from him and push a small table down as a barrier. I realize that most of my co-workers have huddled in the far corner with me. Some are escaping through another door and down a hallway. Pop…Pop…Pop…Scream. Whimper. Moan. I know I am alone. I know this uniform he is wearing says I should trust him…I lunge…Pop. Pop Pop Pop.

    This is what it may have been like for many of the victims yesterday at Ft. Hood.

    Many words will be written about the events of yesterday and the overwhelming majority will be about the middle-aged man who knew where to find a group of trusting colleagues and then systematically betrayed them and murdered them. Many “explanations” or hypotheses will be written. Here is one: a narcissist, narcissistically wounded, acts out his wound in the most terrifying and humiliating way on people completely unprepared to defend themselves and trained to trust him. And he enjoys it. For a brief few minutes his subjective feelings of being small and a “victim” are extinguished in a gratifying hail of bullets and moans and death. It goes just the way he planned and he enjoys it.

    Narcissism is rampant in this culture.

    It is time to make it’s victims real, three dimensional. To narrate their motivations, their lives, to interview their friends and family and to hear what obstacles they overcame and how much they loved their country. They are small, unimportant people in this culture of celebrity. But they are deeply loved, deeply loved. And right now, everyone they loved is feeling destroyed.

    Utterly destroyed.

    That is what narcissism can do.

    (I spent the early years of my career at a small Air Force base as the base psychologist. It was humbling to see how hard everyone worked and how devoted to the mission they were. I learned there how many different kinds of people were better than me, stronger than me and kinder than me. For a medical officer to betray his troops is the worst kind of evil).

    –David Blakeslee, Psy.D. is a psychologist in West Linn, Oregon.

    Uganda: The other shoe drops

    According to this article from Ugandan news source, New Vision, a bill was introduced and then tabled in the Ugandan parliament yesterday.

    The bill would make homosexual relations with someone under 18 punishable by the death penalty.

    Here’s more:

    The Bill, entitled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, also states that anyone who commits the offence of homosexuality will be liable to life imprisonment.

    This was already the case under the current Penal Code Act.

    However, it gives a broader definition of the offence of homosexuality.

    A person charged with the offence will have to undergo a mandatory medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

    The bill further states that anybody who “attempts to commit the offence” is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

    “The same applies to anybody who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality” or anybody who keeps a house or room for the purpose of homosexuality.

    The bill also proposes stiff sentences for people promoting homosexuality.

    They risk a fine of sh100m or prison sentences of five to seven years.

    This applies to people who produce, publish or distribute pornographic material for purposes of promoting homosexuality, fund or sponsor homosexuality.

    Where the offender is a business or NGO, its certificate of registration will be cancelled and the director will be liable to seven years in prison.

    Failure to disclose the offence within 24 hours of knowledge makes somebody liable to a maximum sh5m fine or imprisonment of up to three years.

    This chilling development was promised by those who promoted the ex-gay conference back in the Spring which featured three Americans, Scott Lively, Don Schmeirer and Caleb Brundidge. Lively backed measures to keep homosexuality illegal at the time.

    This bill would make ex-gay ministry such as promoted by the conference impossible as just knowing about someone who is gay could lead to fines or imprisonment.

    For previous posts, click here.

    Another article on the bill. Boxturtlebulletin has the text of the bill. Here is a plank justifying the harsh measures:

    This legislation further recognizes the fact that same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic and that people who experience this mental disorder can and have changed to a heterosexual orientation.  It also recognizes that because homosexuals are not born that way, but develop this disorder based on experiences and environmental conditions, it is preventable, especially among young people who are most vulnerable to recruitment into the homosexual lifestyle.

    I don’t think one’s view of etiology matters in the context of freedom. Determined or not, people are free to engage in relationships as adults and of course the state should protect minors. However, it now seems clearer than ever that the ex-gay conference was designed to give the government cover for the line of thinking presented in this bill. All involved in the ex-gay conference presented out-dated, easily falsified information in the Kampala conference. All involved have refused to bring their theories under the scrutiny of science and research. What if the Americans who went to Uganda presented accurate information about homosexuality to the Ugandan authorities? Would the authors of this bill been able to present this inadequate view of etiology unchallenged?

    UPDATE from the BBC:

    Obama: Prince of Peace?

    President Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

    OSLO – The Nobel Committee stunned the world today by awarding US President, Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Committee chair, Thorbjoern Jagland, said it was kind of a consolation prize since Chicago didn’t win the 2016 Olympic games.

    “We just all felt sorry for Obama,” Jagland said. “He was all sad and stuff, you know, over the Olympic thing, so we thought it would be a nice pick-me-up.”

    Hearing the news, Nobel Laureate, Al Gore said, “What the…? What has he done? At least I invented the Internet.”

    The White House had no comment.

     

    (The second part is lame parody; the first part, strangely, is not.)

    UPDATE: Comedians give the event two thumbs up!

    Best Obama-Nobel Jokes

    October 09, 2009 10:09 AM

    Courtesy of conservative activist Keith Appell:

    Barack Obama’s Teleprompter: Big Guy says Bill Clinton called and was gracious in defeat; offered to fly Kanye West over 4 the Nobel awards ceremony.

    Erick Erickson: Obama is becoming Jimmy Carter faster than Jimmy Carter became Jimmy Carter.

    Ana Marie Cox: Apparently Nobel prizes now being awarded to anyone who is not George Bush.

    Headline over AP analysis by White House correspondent Jennifer Loven: He Won, But For What?

    Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review: I want to buy the world a coke.

    Ezra Klein: Obama also awarded Nobel prize in chemistry. “He’s just got great chemistry,” says Nobel Committee.

    Adam Bromberg, CRC: Nobel Prize Committee must be staffed by out of work comedy writers.

    Kristina Hernandez, CRC: It was the Beer Summit that put Obama over the edge.

    – George Stephanopoulos

    Various Blog Additions:

    Cecil: Miss America was robbed. She was for world peace way before Obama was for it.

    Tony Ramirez: The Cook County Democratic machine ain’t what it used to be. They were supposed to bribe the Olympics Committee.

    Mesquito: Was he, like, the tenth caller or something?

    Ron: I thought I should have won, I haven’t fought with my wife in more than a year.

    US Veteran: Obama Wins Heisman Trophy After Watching Football Game

    Add Your Own!

    Love Won Out transitions to Exodus International

    This just in…

    The Associated Press has a story on topic…

    Focus on the Family’s conference on homosexuality joins Exodus’ expanding church outreach

    Orlando, FL. — Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out conference on homosexuality will be moving to Exodus International starting November, the longtime allies announced today. The move is a logical step not only for both organizations, but also for a movement that has educated and equipped Christians for decades about the reality that unwanted same-sex attractions can be overcome.

    Exodus is making church education a priority effort. Recently, Exodus announced it was merging with outreach ministries of the Presbyterian and Reformed faith communities as well as The United Methodist Church. Those new partnerships will focus on equipping churches with a biblical perspective of sexuality and gender – efforts critical in continuing the original mission of the Love Won Out conference.

    “Exodus is thrilled with this opportunity as the Love Won Out conference is a natural fit in our ongoing efforts to share the hope we’ve found,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International. “Love Won Out has been and will continue to be a powerful event dedicated to helping the global Christian church better understand and more effectively reflect biblical truth and Christ-like compassion to a hurting world.”

    Focus on the Family launched Love Won Out in 1998 to educate and equip Christians on how to respond to the issue of homosexuality in a biblical way, and has traveled to more than 50 cities worldwide with its message of truth and grace. The conference has always featured Exodus speakers and highlighted Exodus member ministries.

    “There is no one better equipped to take over the operation of Love Won Out than Alan and his team,” said Focus on the Family’s Melissa Fryrear, a Love Won Out speaker and host for more than six years. “They have been with us since the beginning. They have stood alongside us in sharing the hope that, with Christ, transformation is possible for those unhappy with same-sex attractions. And we will stand alongside them as they continue to share that message as the organizer of Love Won Out.”

    Focus on the Family’s gender team will continue its efforts tracking and analyzing homosexuality and its surrounding issues, as well as providing expert support to other Focus departments and practical help to its constituents.

    Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media and public relations for the ministry, acknowledged that financial realities played a role in the conference’s transition to Exodus.

    “Everyone knows these are challenging times for organizations and individuals all across the globe,” he said. “It is not an inexpensive undertaking to put on a Love Won Out event; and contrary to what our detractors say, the conferences rarely have recouped the financial investment made in them. That is a cost we have always paid because of the positive impact the events have had.

    “With Exodus moving aggressively to strengthen its church outreach, though, they are the ones who ought to be shepherding Love Won Out as it continues on in its second decade. Our financial challenges have led us to recognize a strategic opportunity that makes sense independent of economic circumstances.”

    Focus on the Family will continue to support the Love Won Out conference financially, and by providing speakers and marketing support. “Focus remains very committed to sharing biblical view of homosexuality,” said Fryrear. “After all, we’re still in the truth and grace business.”

    Focus on the Family will lead its last Love Won Out conference in Birmingham, Ala. on Nov. 7.

    The Washington Blade already has a story up about the move.

    APA sexual orientation task force report: Analysis

    Earlier today, the American Psychological Association governing board received the report of the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Response to Sexual Orientation. The report and press release were embargoed until now. With this post, I want to comment on the paper and recommendations made by the Task Force.

    Generally, I believe the paper to be a high quality report of the evidence regarding sexual orientation and therapy. The authors of the paper (see this post for the new release which contains authorship information) provide a very helpful discussion of the professional literature on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), potential benefits and harm and the role of religion and values in sexual orientation identity exploration. Before I get to a more detailed look at highlights, I want to note an important statement from the APA press release made by Task Force Chair, Judith Glassgold:

    Practitioners can assist clients through therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development without imposing a specific identity outcome.

    Dr. Glassgold here describes sexual identity therapy. In fact, as I will point out, the SIT framework is referred to positively throughout the paper. Whereas some evangelicals may be troubled by the negative view of sexual reorientation in this report, there is much here that clarifies important aspects of work in this field. The paper is long (130 pages) and so one post cannot capture all that is important. I want to start with what for me are the high spots, beginning with the abstract:

    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 that 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. (p. v)

    While the paper takes a dim view of change efforts, the authors indicate that attempts to change have been viewed as helpful by some and harmful by others. This is a fair reading of the research. Given these assessments of the research, the stance the APA recommends is to provide supportive psychotherapy without imposing an identity outcome on the client. To get to this view, the authors review change literature, literature on outcomes and research regarding religion and sexual orientation. I want to briefly recap each section.

    Efficacy of change efforts

    The Task Force reviewed 83 studies that met basic standards for inclusion. They were not impressed with the methodological rigor of the body of research. Their conclusion:

    Thus, the results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through SOCE. (p. 3)

    Safety of change efforts

    The Task Force provided a cautious and nuanced response to the question of harm or benefit from SOCE. I believe they are on target here. Some people report harm and some report benefit but there are no studies which allow conclusions about likelihood of either outcome for any given person. About safety, the press release notes:

    As to the issue of possible harm, the task force was unable to reach any conclusion regarding the efficacy or safety of any of the recent studies of SOCE: “There are no methodologically sound studies of recent SOCE that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE is safe or harmful and for whom,” according to the report.

    Religion and change efforts

    One of the highlights of the report is the discussion of religion and sexual orientation. The authors are to be commended for their balanced and thoughtful approach. I especially like the discussion surrounding the concepts of “organismic congruence” and “telic congruence.” On page 18, the paper summarizes these concepts well:

    The conflict between psychology and traditional faiths may have its roots in different philosophical viewpoints. Some religions give priority to telic congruence (i.e., living consistently within one’s valuative goals) (W. Hathaway, personal communication, June 30, 2008; cf. Richards & Bergin, 2005). Some authors propose that for adherents of these religions, religious perspectives and values should be integrated into the goals of psychotherapy (Richards & Bergin, 2005; Throckmorton & Yarhouse, 2006). Affirmative and multicultural models of LGB psychology give priority to organismic congruence (i.e., living with a sense of wholeness in one’s experiential self (W. Hathaway, personal communication, June 30, 2008; cf. Gonsiorek, 2004; Malyon, 1982). This perspective gives priority to the unfolding of developmental processes, including self-awareness and personal identity.

    This difference in worldviews can impact psychotherapy. For instance, individuals who have strong religious beliefs can experience tensions and conflicts between their ideal self and beliefs and their sexual and affectional needs and desires (Beckstead & Morrow, 2004; D. F. Morrow, 2003). The different worldviews would approach psychotherapy for these individuals from dissimilar perspectives: The telic strategy would prioritize values (Rosik, 2003; Yarhouse & Burkett, 2002), whereas the organismic approach would give priority to the development of self-awareness and identity (Beckstead & Israel, 2007; Gonsiorek, 2004; Haldeman, 2004). It is important to note that the organismic worldview can be congruent with and respectful of religion (Beckstead & Israel, 2007; Glassgold, 2008; Gonsiorek, 2004; Haldeman, 2004; Mark, 2008), and the telic worldview can be aware of sexual stigma and respectful of sexual orientation (Throckmorton & Yarhouse, 2006; Tan, 2008; Yarhouse, 2008). Understanding this philosophical difference may improve the dialogue between these two perspectives represented in the literature, as it refocuses the debate not on one group’s perceived rejection of homosexuals or the other group’s perceived minimization of religious viewpoints but on philosophical differences that extend beyond this particular subject matter. However, some of the differences between these philosophical assumptions may be difficult to bridge.

    On this blog, we have frequently grappled with these differences. Many such discussions have sides talking past each other because different views of congruence are assumed to be determinative. In this CNN clip about the Task Force, Psychiatrist McCommon and I came to about the same conclusion regarding congruence.

    There are different assumptions about what best constitutes the answer to the question: ‘who am I?’ This paper nicely addresses these assumptions and acknowledges that people who are deeply committed to a non-gay-affirming religious position may stay same-sex attracted but not identify as gay. As the paper notes, this is an acceptable alternative.

    Clinical approaches

    The authors consider the role of therapy and ministries groups as aspects of SOCE. What they say about support groups is interesting.

    These effects are similar to those provided by mutual support groups for a range of problems, and the positive benefits reported by participants in SOCE, such as reduction of isolation, alterations in how problems are viewed, and stress reduction, are consistent with the findings of the general mutual support group literature. The research literature indicates that the benefits of SOCE mutual support groups are not unique and can be provided within an affirmative and multiculturally competent framework, which can mitigate the harmful aspects of SOCE by addressing sexual stigma while understanding the importance of religion and social needs. (p. 3)

    In a nutshell, support groups can have benefit when the singular focus is not change of orientation. Our conversations here regarding the change versus congruence model is relevant. I think the kind of changes that are most common are ideological and behavioral. And when I say behavioral, I mean both cessation of unwanted behavior and also less preoccupation with seeking harmful sexual behavior. I think some people feel they have moved on the Kinsey scale because they have better self-control regarding same-sex behavior. These are good and important telic changes but they don’t represent the kinds of changes which reflect dramatic organismic shifts. Orthodox Christianity does not require organismic changes in order to pursue spiritual development.

    Moving from ministry to clinical worlds, the application seems obvious to me. And perhaps it seems obvious since I have been advocating for this stance for several years now. The client sets the value direction and the outcome is not imposed.

    In our review of the research and clinical literature, we found that the appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for adults presenting with a desire to change their sexual orientation has been grounded in a client-centered approach (e.g., Astramovich, 2003; Bartoli & Gillem, 2008; Beckstead & Israel, 2007, Buchanan et al., 2001; Drescher, 1998a; Glassgold; 2008; Gonsiorek; 2004; Haldeman, 2004, Lasser & Gottlieb, 2004; Mark, 2008; Ritter & O’Neill, 1989, 1995; Tan, 2008; Throckmorton & Yarhouse, 2006; Yarhouse & Tan, 2005a; and Yarhouse, 2008). (P.55)

    It is heartening to see the SIT framework referenced here (and elsewhere in the APA paper) as one “appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions.” In general, I think the APA strategies and the SIT framework are quite compatible.

    Bottom line: The APA report will likely be quite influential for years to come. They call for more research on SOCE and a cautious, and I think accurate, interpretation of the research on reorientation. I believe the therapeutic strategies called for are akin to the SIT framework and clarifies nicely the appropriate stance of therapists. The report also respects the place of religion in identity development and exploration. These issues were not clear prior to this report.

    In additional posts, I will deal with various aspects of the paper as well as media coverage. The press release is here and here on the APA website.

    Press release: APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation Report

    The APA released the report from the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation today. This post is the APA press release, I also have an analysis of the report and another post coming with press reports.

    APA PRESS RELEASE

    August 5, 2009

    Contact: Kim Mills

    (202) 336-6048 until Aug. 5

    (416) 585-3800 – Aug. 5-9

    ——————————————————————————–

    INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE THAT SEXUAL ORIENTATION CHANGE EFFORTS WORK, SAYS APA

    Practitioners Should Avoid Telling Clients They Can Change from Gay to Straight

    ——————————————————————————–

    TORONTO—The American Psychological Association adopted a resolution Wednesday stating that mental health professionals should avoid telling clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments.

    The “Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts” also advises that parents, guardians, young people and their families avoid sexual orientation treatments that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and instead seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services “that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.”

    The approval, by APA’s governing Council of Representatives, came at APA’s annual convention, during which a task force presented a report that in part examined the efficacy of so-called “reparative therapy,” or sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

    “Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation,” said Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, chair of the task force. “Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.” Glassgold added: “At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex.”

    Based on this review, the task force recommended that mental health professionals avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts when providing assistance to people distressed about their own or others’ sexual orientation.

    APA appointed the six-member Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation in 2007 to review and update APA’s 1997 resolution, “Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation,” and to generate a report. APA was concerned about ongoing efforts to promote the notion that sexual orientation can be changed through psychotherapy or approaches that mischaracterize homosexuality as a mental disorder.

    The task force examined the peer-reviewed journal articles in English from 1960 to 2007, which included 83 studies. Most of the studies were conducted before 1978, and only a few had been conducted in the last 10 years. The group also reviewed the recent literature on the psychology of sexual orientation.

    “Unfortunately, much of the research in the area of sexual orientation change contains serious design flaws,” Glassgold said. “Few studies could be considered methodologically sound and none systematically evaluated potential harms.”

    As to the issue of possible harm, the task force was unable to reach any conclusion regarding the efficacy or safety of any of the recent studies of SOCE: “There are no methodologically sound studies of recent SOCE that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE is safe or harmful and for whom,” according to the report.

    “Without such information, psychologists cannot predict the impact of these treatments and need to be very cautious, given that some qualitative research suggests the potential for harm,” Glassgold said. “Practitioners can assist clients through therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development without imposing a specific identity outcome.”

    As part of its report, the task force identified that some clients seeking to change their sexual orientation may be in distress because of a conflict between their sexual orientation and religious beliefs. The task force recommended that licensed mental health care providers treating such clients help them “explore possible life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation, reduce the stigma associated with homosexuality, respect the client’s religious beliefs, and consider possibilities for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life.”

    “In other words,” Glassgold said, “we recommend that psychologists be completely honest about the likelihood of sexual orientation change, and that they help clients explore their assumptions and goals with respect to both religion and sexuality.”

    A copy of the task force report may be obtained from APA’s Public Affairs Office or at http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publications/therapeutic-response.pdf.

    Members of the APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation:

    Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, Rutgers University – Chair

    Lee Beckstead, PhD

    Jack Drescher, MD

    Beverly Greene, PhD, St. John’s University

    Robin Lin Miller, PhD, Michigan State University

    Roger L. Worthington, PhD, University of Missouri

    The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world’s largest association of psychologists. APA’s membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

    # # #

    Carrie Prejean defends photos

    This morning Carrie Prejean issued a statement via her publicist about naughty photos of her circulating on the internet.

    SAN DIEGO, May 5 /PRNewswire/ — “On April 19, I chose to answer a question during the 2009 Miss USA pageant in an honest and personal manner that expressed my views of the long-established definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. That answer, and my commitment to stand by my beliefs, has since resulted in attacks on me and my integrity as a woman. We live in a great country; a nation that was built on freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Yet my comments defending traditional marriage have led to intimidation tactics that seek to undermine my reputation and somehow silence me and my beliefs, as if opinion is only a one-way street.
    “I am a Christian, and I am a model. Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos. Recently, photos taken of me as a teenager have been released surreptitiously to a tabloid Web site that openly mocks me for my Christian faith. I am not perfect, and I will never claim to be. But these attacks on me and others who speak in defense of traditional marriage are intolerant and offensive. While we may not agree on every issue, we should show respect for others’ opinions and not try to silence them through vicious and mean-spirited attacks.
    “With that in mind, I will continue to support and defend marriage as the honorable institution it is. I will continue to stand with the overwhelming majority of the American people and the voters of my home state of California. If this whole experience has taught me anything, it is our precious right to speak freely, and how we as Americans can never allow anyone or any group to intimidate or threaten us to keep silent.”
    FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
    Melany Ethridge 214.912.8934
    melany@alarryross.com
    Kristin Cole 615.289.6701
    kristin@alarryross.com

    I don’t know who really wrote the statement but either she or her handlers should do a focus group or take a poll or something. I don’t think they understand the disconnect between Christian role model and model.
    The AP “covers” this story. As with Vanessa Williams, they may provoke the loss of her title. And now she has been invited to the Values Voters Summit…
    Here is a previous post on the matter and some commentary from Christianity Today. Katelyn Beaty sums it well:

    In an interview with the SBC-affiliated San Diego Christian College, where she attends, Prejean talks about the wonderful things she is already doing for Christ: serving women in the adult entertainment industry, volunteering at the local International Ministry Center to help refugees learn English, and working with a mentoring program to foster-care children. She says, “I especially have a heart for helping young girls with low self-esteem.” At this point, I would encourage Prejean to skip the beauty pageants, which set up the very standards of beauty that lead many young girls to devalue themselves, and focus on the far more lasting work she is already doing in the kingdom.

    Obama supporters found guilty of voter fraud in Ohio

    I investigated and followed this story along with Palestra through the Fall. You can get caught up quickly at this post. Months later, the three leaders of Vote Today Ohio were found guilty of voter fraud.
    Here is the story from the Columbus Dispatch:

    3 voting advocates guilty of fraud
    Tuesday, April 28, 2009 3:33 PM
    By Barbara Carmen
    THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
    Three staff members for Vote Today Ohio, an independent get-out-the-vote organization supporting Barack Obama, pleaded guilty in Franklin County this afternoon to voter fraud.
    The three came to Ohio from states where Obama was likely to win in an effort to swing Ohio’s electoral college vote toward their candidate, Judge Charles A. Schneider said.
    Given a year’s probation and a $1,000 fine were Daniel Hausman, 32, and Amy Little, 50, both of New York, and Yolanda Hippensteele, 30, of California. They told the court they had good intentions when they registered to vote and cast ballots the same day in early voting at Veterans Memorial.
    “I was paying rent and living full-time in Ohio,” Hippensteele told the judge, “I didn’t attempt to vote in another state. … I think it’s all a misunderstanding. I have a profound respect for the voting process.”
    Assistant Prosecutor Brian Simms said the three later tried to rescind their registration and cancel their votes; two were successful. Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien had warned visiting campaign staff members that they shouldn’t vote here if they didn’t plan to stay after the election.
    Schneider told the three that “rescinding your request is like giving back the money once you’ve been caught.”

    Amy Little was fired as a campaign adviser to Rep. John Hall (D-NY) after it was revealed that she had voted in Ohio, despite a residence in NY and intentions to return to NY.
    Michael Stinziano, Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, said he expects there may be more such outcomes since his office referred more allegations to the prosecutor.
    Lots more on this story here.