Is There a War on Psychotherapy?

Last week, this came across my path:

I assume Christopher Doyle refers to the effort around the country to prohibit sexual reorientation change efforts for minors. However, I write this post to address a couple of points.

When it comes to sexual orientation and psychotherapy, the reparative therapy narrative of defective parenting doesn’t hold water or match up with research or experience.  However, there are still therapists who believe that and try to impose it on their clients and their families. Much of my work has been to develop a therapy approach (sexual identity therapy) which requires therapists to present scientific research about sexual orientation to clients and allow clients to decide what to do about it.

On the other hand, the Family Research Council speaker Christopher Doyle worked and trained with Richard Cohen who has a different approach. Here is a snapshot of a couple of Richard Cohen’s techniques.

I will leave it to readers. Is this psychotherapy?

Doyle defended these and other outrageous techniques in this legal brief designed to be used in a New Jersey trial involving JONAH, a Jewish change therapy group. JONAH lost at trial.

You can see Doyle in action in this review of a documentary called Sunday Sessions in which Doyle provides sexual orientation change counseling to a young adult man. Note that Richard Cohen is involved in the group sessions at the beginning.

In the end, the young man feels somewhat better but credits the teachings of the Catholic church for his mood improvement. There is no indication that his sexual attractions changed.

Sexual Identity Therapy

I watched the documentary (I recommend it although there is no real conclusion to the story), and I need to make another thing clear. In the film (and on this page), Doyle calls his approach to therapy “Sexual Identity Affirming Therapy.” I want to say plainly that what he does is unrelated to “Sexual Identity Therapy” as developed by Mark Yarhouse and me.

In the documentary, Doyle did not provide a range of information about the development of male homosexuality but instead authoritatively expressed the reparative narrative of weak fathers and an unmasculine upbringing. The directive style demonstrated in the movie review above is not taken out of context. None of this is consistent with sexual identity therapy. People working within the principles of SIT do not attempt to change a client’s sexual orientation. SIT is antithetical to what Doyle demonstrates in the documentary and more broadly, to what Cohen does in his various public demonstrations.

The War is Over

In my opinion, within psychotherapy, the war is actually over and change therapy has lost. No training programs teach it. I know of no Christian training programs that teach it (although I would like to be corrected if I am wrong). It is misleading to pretend there is a wronged group of psychotherapists who want to practice it and can’t. The courts have not been inclined to defend it.

On the other hand, there has been a resurgence of interest in ex-gay type ministries. While I don’t yet see an accompanying revival of professional interest in change therapy, it is the nature of true believers to keep trying.

Christian Post Provides Free Advertising for International Healing Foundation

I missed this a couple of days ago. The Christian Post provided free advertising for the following activity masquerading as therapy:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJXWFZz0Qjo[/youtube]
This video cannot be shown enough. This is what the Christian Post is advertising with their puff piece on the International Healing Foundation. Doyle says being attracted to the same sex is a matter of poor parenting. Richard Cohen, the founder of IHF, says the therapist should establish a parent child relationship as a means of replacing what clients didn’t get from their parents. This is a dangerous and false premise. Some gays and some straights didn’t get what they needed from their parents, but this doesn’t make them gay or straight. Putting the therapist in the role of a nurturing parent is reflects a wrong diagnosis and potentially sets up an unhealthy dependence on the therapist. Furthermore, a robust line of research suggests that the pillow beating catharsis treatment is fundamentally unhelpful.
Perhaps these points and more are why no graduate training programs offer these approaches for the purposes designated by IHF. I know of no graduate training programs housed in Christian colleges which teach these techniques. Even at Liberty, Doyle was not allowed to consider Cohen a clinical supervisor, nor was he allowed to count his experience there toward his school internship.
Chris Doyle says the IHF does therapy. However, I even wonder about that. According to their 2012 990 form, they took in very little money in program services fees with the lion’s share of their income coming from donations.
I hope the reporter will consider doing a counter point article in response.
 
 

The Voice of the Voiceless (sic) Campaign: Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

Subtitle: Conservatives Against Crazy Therapies #savethepillows (see video below).
Right wing website The College Fix misses the point in an article published last Friday (6/20).
The assumption on the part of Chris Doyle and author Claire Healey seems to be that incorrect information provided by college counseling or resource centers should lead to the addition of more incorrect information at those same centers. In other words, since LGBT centers say some things that might be inaccurate or can’t be proven, ex-gay supporters should be allowed to do the same thing.
This is not “right-minded” but rather wrong-headed.
Doyle can’t offer any evidence for his claims, and as his campaign shows, his group is hardly voiceless.
Conservatives should not react in a knee jerk fashion against what seems like viewpoint discrimination to simply offer what seems to be the opposite position (e.g., gay groups say gays can’t change, conservative groups then should support the notion that gays can change). What seems like the opposite position of the position you don’t like is not of necessity the correct one. In this case, it is true that research has not found a consensus around the causes of homosexuality. However, that does not mean that Doyle’s version of weak fathering and overbearing mothering is correct. In fact, that model doesn’t have support in research. There are many good empirical reasons to question that model for most gays.  Doyle’s therapy approach is based on that causal model which, in addition to the absence of any empirical support, opens it up to skepticism.
Two wrongs don’t create a “right-minded” stance and is a loser as a conservative position.
Chris Doyle’s mentor Richard Cohen in action:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtGouVqsmsg[/youtube]
Sorry, can’t imagine a college promoting this anti-science brand of ex-gay therapy but that is what Doyle’s IHF is known for.

International Healing Foundation Announces The End Of Homosexuality

Really. Just look.

Announcing
THE END OF HOMOSEXUALITY
Want to Know How?

Greetings,
Want to be part of an exciting revolution? Want to end homosexuality and prevent bullying? Want to protect your children and grandchildren?
Everyday our kids are being inundated with false information about homosexuality-born that way and cannot change. This is both scientifically and scripturally untrue. We at IHF have developed solutions to end homosexuality:
1. Coming Out Straight: a plan to heal unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA)
2. Gay Children Straight Parents: a plan for family healing
3. Counselor Training Program: education for therapists & ministry leaders

Eventually all of this turns into a request for money. Want to end the gay? You gotta pay to play.
There is one thing that can be said about International Healing Foundation: Change is Possible.
They change their message and tone frequently. Good cop and bad cop, all in one package, all in one day.
Speaking of that slogan – change is possible – nearly two years ago, Cohen and IHF apologized for it.

We at IHF wish to offer a sincere, heartfelt apology to everyone in the LGBTQ community who may have been hurt by our message of “change.” As the director of IHF, I apologize and ask your forgiveness. I did not realize that by stating, “Change is Possible,” some would be offended. That was the furthest thing from my heart and mind. To think that our message of “change” would cause further pain to LGBTQ youth and adults is painful to imagine … I am deeply and profoundly sorry.

Now I can envision another future apology: We at IHF wish to apologize for claiming to bring about the end of homosexuality. We did not realize that by announcing the end of homosexuality, some would be offended.
One would be hard pressed to find a more confusing organization than IHF. On their “coming out loved” website, they claim to accept gays:

Some live a heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, or transsexual life, while others are unsure about their sexuality and seek to explore alternatives. We uphold your right of self-determination, to follow the path that fills your heart with love. 

Bringing in the bullying theme heightens the confusion and contradiction. I can only imagine how IHF’s message would be received by a GLB teen or young adult. IHF is now identifying with the bullies who also want to end homosexuality and is doing so in the name of preventing bullying.
Surreal.
 
 

Christopher Doyle Misinforms Public on New Jersey Sexual Reorientation Bill

Like Matt Barber before him, Christopher Doyle is misleading his evangelical peers about a New Jersey bill which would prohibit sexual orientation change efforts for minors. Here is what Doyle told Christian Post readers:

The bill is being dubbed the Jerry Sandusky Victimization Act, because when sexually abused children are denied treatment to resolve the symptoms of trauma, criminals like convicted pedophile and former Penn State University football coach Jerry Sandusky, go undiscovered, sometimes for decades.
If this legislation becomes law, monsters like Sandusky will have more protection to victimize, because children who develop SSA as a result of abuse may never tell their parents. They may never tell their parents because organizations such as Garden State Equality, the largest gay activist group in New Jersey, are indoctrinating young people to believe that homosexuality is in-born, and if a child believes they are born gay, then the possibility of resolving homosexual feelings that result from sex abuse may never enter their mind.

Either Doyle has not read Senate Bill 2278 or he is deliberately withholding information from his readers. The New Jersey bill specifically addresses the concern about abuse. The entire bill will legislative comment is below.

SENATE, No. 2278
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, 215th LEGISLATURE
INTRODUCED OCTOBER 15, 2012
Sponsored by:

Senator  RAYMOND J. LESNIAK, District 20 (Union)
Senator  STEPHEN M. SWEENEY, District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)
Senator  LORETTA WEINBERG, District 37 (Bergen)
SYNOPSIS
Protects minors by prohibiting counseling attempts to change sexual orientation.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
As introduced.
AN ACT concerning the protection of minors from counseling attempts to change sexual orientation and supplementing Title 45 of the Revised Statutes.

     BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1.    a. A person who is licensed to provide professional counseling under Title 45 of the Revised Statutes, including, but not limited to, a psychiatrist, licensed practicing psychologist, certified social worker, licensed clinical social worker, licensed social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist, certified psychoanalyst, or a person who performs counseling as part of the person’s professional training for any of these professions, shall not engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under 18 years of age.
b.    As used in this section, “sexual orientation change efforts” means the practice of seeking to change a person’s sexual persuasion, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender; except that sexual orientation change efforts shall not include counseling that:
(1) provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a person or facilitates a person’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual persuasion-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and
(2) does not seek to change sexual persuasion.
2.    This act shall take effect immediately.
STATEMENT
This bill prohibits counseling to change the sexual orientation of a minor.
Under the provisions of the bill, a person who is licensed to provide professional counseling, including, but not limited to, a psychiatrist, licensed practicing psychologist, certified social worker, licensed clinical social worker, licensed social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist, certified psychoanalyst, or a person who performs counseling as part of the person’s professional training, is prohibited from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under 18 years of age.
The bill defines “sexual orientation change efforts” as the practice of seeking to change a person’s sexual persuasion,including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender.  The term, however, does not include counseling that: provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a person or facilitates a person’s coping, social support, identity exploration and development, including sexual persuasion-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and does not seek to change sexual persuasion.

Please note the section which addresses the issue of sexual abuse:

…except that sexual orientation change efforts shall not include counseling that:
(1) provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a person or facilitates a person’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual persuasion-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices;

The bill correctly separates sexual abuse recovery from sexual reorientation. If a person is confused in their attractions after a trauma, then recovery from the trauma may bring some clarity to sexual attractions. This facilitation of coping and identity exploration is allowed by the law. Furthermore, the law allows therapists to discuss issues surrounding abuse (“unlawful conduct”).
In his Christian Post article, Doyle takes his opponents to task for presenting false witness. However, it seems clear that he has misrepresented the bill in his comments. Oppose the bill if you believe you should but don’t do it for false reasons.

Unconditional Love Reparative Therapy Style

Yesterday on the Dr. Oz Show, Christopher Doyle and Julie Hamilton presented reparative therapy as one option for people with “unwanted same-sex attractions.” They also portrayed their position as accepting of GLBT people and urged unconditional love in response to young people who experience attraction to the same sex. At one point, Doyle sounded angry and shouted from the audience that a panelist was misrepresenting his position on the subject of acceptance.

Those opposing reparative therapy seemed astounded by the reparative therapists insistence that reparative therapy is not stigmatizing. If Doyle and Hamilton really believe what they said on the Oz Show, they displayed a jaw-dropping deficit in self-awareness. In fact, the definition of reparative therapy includes a theory of homosexuality that makes same-sex attraction the result of family dysfunction or childhood sexual abuse. On the program, Hamilton and Doyle seemed to apply their theory to only those men and women they see in counseling. However, when one reads reparative therapy literature, it is clear that they see all homosexual attraction as stemming from dysfunction of one kind or another.

When one of the panelists (Brad Lamm I believe) said that reparative therapists stigmatized gay youth, Doyle protested that his position was being misrepresented. However, in a 2010 WorldNetDaily article titled “Warning to Homosexual Youth: It Gets Worse“, Doyle’s stance was exactly as Lamm described.  About gay youth, Doyle said

It’s all too typical for homosexual activists to justify their behavior by claiming “we’re born that way” and then blame the tragic consequences of their actions on an intolerant society. But pushing this lie to young people is the ultimate death sentence for those who do not want to live a homosexual life. It offers no hope to youth who are struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions, and it’s unconscionable to lure young people into behavior that has so many serious risks, and then deny them the opportunity for change.

The facts reveal that even in the most gay-friendly cultures, it’s not society that is responsible for the consequences of homosexuality; it’s the behavior. It really makes one ask the question, just what about the homosexual life gets better?

If Doyle doesn’t believe this anymore then he needs to get WND to remove the article from their website or print a retraction.

At 2:45 in this clip (videos from Dr. Oz’s site cannot be embedded; click the link to watch) GLSEN’s Eliza Bayard expresses the fact that reparative therapy by definition implies that there is something about the same-sex attracted person that needs to be changed. At 2:52, the camera moves to Julie Hamilton who is shaking her head in disagreement with Bayard.

She then says she agrees with Bayard and says at 3:10:

Reparative therapy does not tell children that there is something wrong with them.

At that point Bayard and another panelist rightly interrupt Hamilton and ask how she can suggest that reparative therapy is not trying to fix an illness or a wound. In the next clip, Hamilton says that as a starting point, reparative therapy tries to help people be more comfortable with themselves.

Hamilton’s denial of the essential tenets of reparative therapy is astounding. Until he was corrected by me in 2006, Joseph Nicolosi, one of the founders of reparative therapy, told Love Won Out audiences that homosexuality is a gender identity disorder. In his newest book, Nicolosi continues to claim that homosexuality is the result of faulty parenting. Hamilton in an article on the NARTH website paints a picture of normal, healthy development and then says gays don’t experience that:

So, what happens in the development of gender identity that might lead a child to have same-sex attractions? Typically, for this child, there is something that prevents him from attaching to the father. Either he does not have a father or a father figure, or he does not have a father who he perceives as safe and/or welcoming.

In 2009, Hamilton co-edited a book called Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Attractions: A Guide to Treatment. In it, Nicolosi’s chapter on the meaning of same-sex attraction has this to say:

The homosexually oriented man typically carries a deep sense of shame for his strivings to make a connection with the masculine. On some level, he believes he is defective, insignificant, and depleted in his masculinity. Homosexual acting-out seems to promise reparation of those negative feelings, i.e., attention, admiration, and masculine reassurance, adding with it the reassurance that he truly does possess a worthy male body. (p. 37)

Also in this chapter, Nicolosi contrasts the “true self” (heterosexuality) with the “false self” (homosexuality). This chapter makes it very clear, in contrast to what Hamilton said on Dr. Oz, that reparative theory does tell people that something is wrong with them. Perhaps the therapist does not use those exact words and say, “there is something wrong with you,” but given what these therapists do teach, it is no wonder that Hamilton got a shocked reaction from her opponents.

If Doyle and Hamilton really believe that their theory only covers a small subset of same-sex attracted people then the burden is on them to explicitly reject their past statements and writings which indicate they believe all homosexuality is the result of dysfunctional parenting or abuse. If they really believe that GLBT people can live healthy, functional lives, then they need to explicitly reject much of what is on the NARTH and PFOX websites and make clear statements to that effect. Until then, their claims will continue to fall on skeptical ears.