JONAH Guilty of Consumer Fraud According to NJ Jury

That didn’t take long.
Today, the jury in the sexual orientation change case in NJ said Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (JONAH) was guilty of consumer fraud by claiming sexual orientation can be changed.
According the report, the jury found that JONAH founders Arthur Goldberg and Elaine Berk and life coach Alan Downing:

…engaged in unconscionable commercial practices” and misrepresented their services.

This is a big deal and should have a chilling effect on such services elsewhere. Hopefully, fewer therapists will engage in such practices and instead work with clients in conflict over sexual attractions to explore realistic options.
JONAH will have to refund fees collected.
 

PATH Member PFOX Files Amicus Brief in the Prop 8 Case

Citing the “change is possible” mantra, PFOX has filed an amicus brief in the Prop 8 case arguing against marriage rights for gays. This is not surprising but I have some observations about their strategy.
In this brief, PFOX continues its odd logic of considering ex-gays to be a protected class while at the same time hoping to remove/prevent protected class status for gays. On page 4, the brief asserts:

Government authorities and other organizations recognize ex-gays as a group which undermines the assertion that sexual orientation is immutable.

The brief continues to cite dubious cases where PFOX claims that ex-gays are recognized as a protected class.
I have never understood why PFOX thinks this strategy helps them. Even if PFOX is correct about their interpretation of those cases, all of the organizations involved also recognize gays as a class. Furthermore, if ex-gays can be recognized as a protected class while they have a changeable sexual orientation, then the issue of mutability of sexual orientation is irrelevant. Taken to logical conclusion, this argument supports equal protection under the law for gays. Since ex-gays already have the right to marry, why shouldn’t gays?
Then, on page 6, PFOX unveils the list of sexual reorientation groups and includes Richard Cohen’s testimony. This makes it clear that the reparative therapists who say they just want to be able to work with unwanted SSA have taken their stand that they are about more than just a therapeutic approach.

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: JONAH Responds to SPLC Suit

A group called Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund has taken on the defense of Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (JONAH) against a suit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC complaint alleges that JONAH violated New Jersey’s consumer fraud law by promising sexual reorientation to clients without success. The complaint is here.

It is very discouraging to see the JONAH complaint framed as a freedom of conscience case. As the complaint outlines, the techniques alleged by the plaintiffs have been discredited within the mainstream mental health community and as such should be confronted. Please see this post on the “oranges therapy” and this one on the use of nudity by JONAH counselors.

Furthermore, it is misleading for JONAH to describe what it does in the following manner:

For over twelve years, JONAH has helped hundreds of people live the lives that they want, consistent with their personal values. JONAH’s mission is to give all people the opportunity to explore their internal conflicts around sexuality and other values in a caring, non-judgmental environment.

As I have noted elsewhere, reparative therapists are beginning to use the language of the sexual identity therapy framework to describe what they do. However, reparative therapy is inconsistent with the SIT Framework.

More on this topic:

Dr. Oz’s Reparative Therapy Adventure

Sexual Identity Therapy is Not Reparative Therapy

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: No Naked Therapy?

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: What Does Mainstream Mean?

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: When Reparative Isn’t Reparative

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: What Does Mainstream Mean?

Facing challenges to reparative therapy, NARTH past president Julie Hamilton penned an article last week defending NARTH from charges that it is a reparative therapy organization that promotes odd techniques

In this article, Hamilton wrote:

NARTH represents licensed, ethical therapists who practice mainstream approaches to therapy in their offices. When we are talking about therapy, we are NOT referring to unorthodox approaches, nor are we referring to ministries, retreats, residential programs or any other form of help other than conventional therapy offered by licensed professionals in their offices.

What is mainstream?

As I pointed out here, NARTH leaders and members recommend very unorthodox and discredited techniques to their clients.  For instance, NARTH member and former board member Arthur Goldberg is a defendant in a law suit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center over the efficacy of changing sexual orientation from gay to straight. In the complaint, plaintiffs alleged that Goldberg’s counselor, Alan Downing, required clients to struggle through a gauntlet of men to seize oranges which symbolized testicles as a sign of masculinity. Clients were allegedly asked to undress in front of the counselors and to beat pillows with tennis racquets while visualizing their mothers.

Are those mainstream techniques?

I established in recent posts that NARTH leaders refers clients to New Warriors Training Adventure, a weekend retreat which incorporates the oranges, nudity and pillow beating into a masculinity enhancing weekend. If the SPLC complaint is correct, Jonah incorporates those techniques into therapy sessions. Is that orthodox?

Re-parenting

On NARTH’s website, tips for parents who struggle with a gay child are presented. At the end of this article by James Phelan, the New Warriors Training Adventure is recommended as is JONAH. In addition to those two groups, Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation is recommended because it offers “deep inner child work (re-parenting).”

Is re-parenting mainstream?

Note from this video at about 38 seconds how Mr. Cohen suggests that therapists establish a parent-child relationship.

Most therapists would not agree that therapists should attempt to “re-parent” their clients. In fact, the practice and accompanying attitude toward clients fell into disrepute in the 1990s (see this article for more on Jacqui Shiff, the mother of reparenting). Even though reparenting is not taught or practiced widely, perhaps, NARTH therapists think the techniques are mainstream. NARTH member Anthony Duk (who is the plaintiff in a NARTH lawsuit against the state of CA) told state Senator Ted Lieu that re-parenting is something specific to reparative therapy. Duk wrote:

Reparative therapy works. It is a process of re-parenting, forgiving past traumas, understanding the self and realizing that one’s purpose in life is and how to contribute to society.

Bioenergetics

Part of Richard Cohen’s approach is what he calls bioenergetics. There is a history to bioenergetics that connects to a somewhat mainstream therapist, Alexander Lowen. However, most often what is associated with bioenergetics is beating pillows with a tennis racquet while screaming angry words at a visualization of another person, usually a parent. Since reparative therapists think the type and quality of parenting cause one’s sexual orientation, clients need to heal from bad parenting, sometimes via catharsis. Reparative therapists also believe child abuse influences sexual abuse so the bioenergetic among them recommend the carthartic methods to address anger over victimization.

Is catharsis mainstream?

While expending energy in purposeful activity can be helpful, catharsis has not fared well in research investigations and is not generally considered mainstream. Research suggests that catharsis actually makes anger worse and can lead to more aggression. Just about any course in social psychology at the undergraduate level will provide psychology majors with enough data to address the central claims of cathartic methods. However, NARTH allows an article on its website which recommends IHF, New Warriors, and other such groups who use these techniques. And NARTH leaders use them. IHF’s Christopher Doyle and NARTH’s frequent media representative and New Warrior member David Pickup manage NARTH’s Facebook page. In other words, those who are prominent in the group and represented in their legal actions endorse techniques that most of their peers say are not mainstream. And that is without even mentioned sexual re-orientation.

I understand that some NARTH members don’t use these techniques and probably would not recommend them. However, observers of NARTH can be forgiven for pointing out the obvious. Hamilton says NARTH does not represent the unorthodox but their leaders recommend the unorthodox and NARTH’s attorneys are representing some members who recommend the unorthodox.

Some evangelicals have rushed to defend NARTH and reparative therapy but I urge them to exercise caution. One must look more deeply than the claims of orthodoxy to know what is being defended when one defends reparative therapy.

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: When Reparative Isn’t Reparative

Past president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality is trying really hard to distance her organization from history and the organization’s leaders. In an article posted on NARTH’s website, Hamilton comments on her recent appearance on the Dr. Oz show (see my posts on that subject here and here) and makes a case that

…the term “reparative” never referred to trying to “repair” someone. It was originally used to refer to the “Reparative Theory” that when a child does not receive adequate same-sex bonding in childhood, homosexual attractions will develop as a “reparative drive” for those unmet needs.

She is correct here about the term reparative referring to a psychological drive. Proposed by Elizabeth Moberly and Joseph Nicolosi, the drive is not a positive development in reparative theory because the person experiences it in response to a deficit in relationship with the same-sex parent. The drive itself is trying to fix something that the reparative therapist believes is broken. Reparative therapists try to help same-sex attracted clients see that their attractions are futile efforts to repair and fill those unmet needs. While Hamilton is right in her explanation, I don’t think it changes much when it comes to how reparative therapists see homosexuality.  The client is still broken and in need of a different kind of repair than the homosexual reparative drive offers. In what will seem surprising to long time NARTH watchers, Hamilton claims that reparative therapy is just one of many change therapies promoted by NARTH.

NARTH does not use the term “Reparative Therapy” to refer to therapy for unwanted homosexual attractions.

She adds:

In actuality, “Reparative Therapy” only refers to one approach used by some therapists. However, there are many therapists who work with unwanted homosexual attractions, many of whom use combinations of other therapeutic methods. Therefore, a more inclusive term to describe this work would be therapy for unwanted homosexual attractions.

I would like to know what some of those other approaches are. She says they exist but she doesn’t give any specifics. The appeal to a more general terminology for NARTH’s work appears to be part of the recent makeover. NARTH carries this through into their court challenges to California’s new law banning change therapies for minors. In the Liberty Counsel brief, the term “sexual orientation change effort” (SOCE) is preferred. However, in the real world, three of the four plaintiffs in the NARTH case against Governor Brown are reparative therapists – David Pickup, Joseph Nicolosi, and Robert Vazzo. On page 19 of the complaint, Pickup is described as a consumer of “authentic SOCE counseling.”

As an adult, Mr. Pickup underwent authentic SOCE counseling, created by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, for several years.

The only counseling created by Joseph Nicolosi is reparative therapy. In fact, Pickup acknowledges this on one of his websites:

David H. Pickup is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, currently operating his private psychotherapy practice in Burbank, California. He works primarily with men dealing with same-sex attraction through Reparative Therapy, (also commonly called Reorientation Therapy), which was created by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi over the past twenty years . David underwent extensive training in Reparative Therapy for three years underneath the direction of Dr. Nicolosi at Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, California. He now offers expert training in this therapy to other therapists, either in person or via the internet for interns and therapists all over the world.  Reorientation Therapy is his primary focus and life’s work; assisting men and boys in healing their masculine wounds and helping them in their transformation out of homosexuality into heterosexuality.

Later in her article, Hamilton says that

NARTH represents licensed, ethical therapists who practice mainstream approaches to therapy in their offices. When we are talking about therapy, we are NOT referring to unorthodox approaches, nor are we referring to ministries, retreats, residential programs or any other form of help other than conventional therapy offered by licensed professionals in their offices.

Actually, some NARTH reparative therapists do recommend unorthodox methods and retreats. As noted earlier this week, David Pickup recommends the Mankind Project’s New Warriors Training Adventure where nudity is practiced and men are encouraged to run through a gauntlet of men to grab tennis balls or oranges symbolizing their testicles. Tennis racquets are used to beat pillows while visualizing parents or others. These are the kinds of things that have been described as taking place during JONAH counseling sessions in a suit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. To my knowledge, NARTH has not spoken out against these practices. But then how could they? New Warrior David Pickup has represented NARTH in the CA legislature, and on numerous talk shows. While it is understandable that Hamilton wants to portray NARTH as mainstream, the public faces of NARTH in their court cases and media appearances have been reparative therapists, some of whom recommend the very techniques which NARTH says they don’t recommend. If NARTH wants to be taken seriously as mainstream, they need to come out clearly and strongly against catharsis and “guts work” techniques associated with New Warriors and Journey into Manhood. However, I don’t see how they can. The membership numbers would plummet.

UPDATE: There is another case challenging CA’s SB 1172, this one being brought be the Pacific Justice Institute. One of the plaintiffs in that case is NARTH member, Anthony Duk. During the fight over the bill, Duk wrote to bill author Ted Lieu. It certainly seems like NARTH is fighting for reparative therapy given that Dr. Duk is one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

Dear Senator Lieu, As a Vietnamese American psychiatrist, I have seen many young male patients grow up without father figures in a world that is very tough. They end up with lots of abuse (psychological, verbal, sexual, physical) that denies their masculinity and pushes them to have very low self esteem. Without reparative therapy to help them become men and understand their full potential in society as fathers and husbands, they wind up with a false identity of homosexuality and being ‘gay’. Reparative therapy works. It is a process of re-parenting, forgiving past traumas, understanding the self and realizing that one’s purpose in life is and how to contribute to society. Please give me a call to discuss my opposition to SB 1172 if you have any questions. Anthony Duk, MD

More in this series: The Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: No Naked Therapy? The Reparative Therapy Makeover: Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

Reparative shake up in Northern Ireland

Yesterday, Alan Chambers posted about a trip to Belfast in order to speak about his newest book, Leaving Homosexuality. In the post, he disclosed that the two men hosting the series (note: according to Dr. Davidson, the recent sessions of Bergner and Chambers are hosted solely by Core-Issues), Michael Davidson and Paul Miller have

broken ties with Mr. [Richard] Cohen and neither utilize or endorse his practices. 

This would be a change for Dr. Miller since he is quoted on Richard Cohen’s website with a glowing endorsement about Richard Cohen’s “counselor training program.” On Cohen’s website Miller says: 
The Counselor Training Program was delivered in an event co-sponsored with ABEO, JONAH and IHF in Northern Ireland. People attended from all over the world (UK, Ireland, Israel, Egypt, Estonia, Germany, Lichtenstein), and the outcome of the training was an amazing equipping for these professionals to work in an evidence-based way with people seeking to change their sexual orientation. It was one of the best training events I have ever attended: clear, evidence-based, stimulating and pragmatic.

         Paul W. Miller M.D., BCh, BAO, DMH (Belfast), MRC Psych

         Consultant Psychiatrist

         Managing Director, ABEO

In 2007, Paul Miller hosted a healing workshop and training session in Belfast (the brochure remains on the Core-Issues website). Then in 2008, Miller was embroiled in controversy surrounding remarks about him by then MP, Iris Robinson. At that time, he described Cohen’s 2007 workshop as “very valuable.” More recently, journalist Patrick Strudwick reported on alleged sessions with Miller. Charges filed over that event will apparently be heard this month by the General Medical Council there. Meanwhile, Dr. Miller has removed his website (www.abeoonline.com) from view. Prior to the recent removal, he advertised a link to Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation (archived copy). Note there that he offered trainings in collaboration with IHF.
ABEO also provides training to those professionals working in the area of unwanted SSA. Through links with NARTH, JONAH, the International Healing Foundation and a number of international experts we are seeking to spread evidence based skills that will help professionals working in this area.
Miller once served as NARTH’s UK representative but appears to have stepped down from that position as he is no longer listed on the NARTH website. I have asked Dr. Miller for additional description about this change and will provide any statement he gives.
Additional note: in contrast to the statement that Core-Issues does not endorse the practices of Richard Cohen, their website does offer his two books, Coming Out Straight and Gay Children, Straight Parents.

Celebration of Being: A new way to ex-gay?

Recently, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH) sent an email with the subject line “Specially Priced Workshops” offering a workshop called the Noble Man in collaboration with a group called Celebration of Being. The event is also offered on the JONAH website. The email offered special prices for combining the Celebration of Being and Noble workshops ($1420.00 for both weekends!). The rationale and promised results are:

Offered by The Celebration of Being and the Jonah Institute

Why is this particular combination of experiential-learning weekends great for couples? Because it permits couples to experience deep emotional breakthroughs where each other’s authentic needs are recognized and honored.

At the Celebration of Woman workshop, the female partner will learn to:
• Step into the power, beauty and radiance of being a woman
• Tap into her deepest feminine essence and her fullest potential as a woman
• Open up her being, so she can share all these gifts with the man she loves

At the Noble Man workshop, the male partner will learn to:
• Feel and act empowered around women
• Open his heart and trust his purpose as a man in the presence of women
• Share these gifts with the woman he loves to truly honor and embrace her

Extra Bonus for the Woman who attends:
If the female partner participates in the “Celebration of Woman” workshop, she qualifies to help facilitate the men’s Noble Man weekend at a reduced rate and thus gain greater insight into the issues faced by her man.

By combining and attending the two workshops, the couple will:
• Build a deeper base of understanding between them
• Deepen their trust in each other
• Open them up emotionally to each other and ignite feelings of passion and joy for them.

To me, this had the sounds of a New Warriors Training Adventure ad so I investigated a little further. The Celebration of Being is a venture of Rajyo Hartman and Britta Johnson, both followers of the teacher, Osho (osho.com). The Celebration of Being:

…is committed to represent the leading edge of our evolving humanity, while holding a space for the tender transformation of everyone’s hearts.

Our Rites of Passage workshops, Goddess Workshops for women, trainings and individual coaching guide you to heal the issues that have kept you separate from yourself and others, find your special purpose here on Earth, and provide you with a tangible experience of your unique connection with the Divine.

We are dedicated to the discovery of the true essence of the feminine and masculine, and the healing of man and woman. We believe in an embodied spirituality, and are committed to the Awakening of all through our goddess workshops and more.

On the front page, the Celebration of the Noble Man workshop was listed with no mention of JONAH. The experience is promoted as a way to heal those mother wounds.

The Noble Man workshop is a three and a half day Intensive for men who wish to heal their issues with women. It is a profound process of being supported and honored by experienced women holding an unconditional space of acceptance, loving kindness and devotion. This is a safe environment for you to express and explore your fears, wounds and resentments around the feminine, and to let go of whatever is in the way of you relating from a space of presence, openness and integrity.

Given that the reparative drive theorist believes that gayness derives from the “classic triadic pattern” of the domineering mother and cold distant father, I suspect the workshop is provided by Jonah in order get gay men to repair the mother corner of that triangle. The New Warrior experience addresses the dad issues and perhaps this will be the new way to repair the mom issues.

As with New Warriors and the ex-gay movement, this seems like an odd collaboration. JONAH takes a pretty conservative view of homosexuality and is recommended by conservative Christians as the Jewish ex-gay group. JONAH is recommended on the new Facts About Youth website which says it is non-religious. Celebration of Being on the other hand, while apparently open to a wide range of spirtual influences, does not seem to be opposed to homosexuality. In fact, the founders of the CoB support a Celebration of the Gay Nobleman workshop in collaboration with Michael Sigmann. Johnson and Markman are listed as facilitators for that workshop which sounds a lot like the one JONAH is supporting, except without the gay.

Additional information: PFOX hearts them some Celebration of Being too.