The current American Psychological Association Monitor briefly reports on the August report from the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. Not much new here for regular readers of the blog. The big news in my view was the treatment of religion which did not get as much coverage as the discouragement of change therapies.
The article ends with quotes from NARTH’s Julie Hamilton and me.
Warren Throckmorton, PhD, an associate professor of psychology and fellow at the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa., described the task force’s work as a “well-done effort.”
“I felt the treatment of religion was very respectful, and in doing so, it created space for clients of conservative religious faith to explore the reality of their sexual orientation, while maintaining their faith commitments,” said Throckmorton, who researches sexual orientation and homosexuality and writes about such issues from a Christian perspective.
Julie Harren Hamilton, PhD, president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), said she appreciated what she described as the task force’s recognition that clients have a right to self-determination, and its respect for religious diversity. But she disagreed with the task force’s main conclusions, and charged that the task force was composed only of members opposed to sexual orientation change efforts.
“We believe that if the task force had been more neutral in their approach, they could have arrived at only one conclusion, that homosexuality is not invariably fixed in all people, that some people can and do change,” she said.
Some people may change something but there is little evidence which would allow more than guesses about what the potent elements in any such change might be. The NARTH review found that all kinds of approaches reported some degree of change. Can they all be right? In such a situation, a more plausible guess might be that there was some common element of the clients and/or the therapy that could be involved. And as Jones and Yarhouse suggested in the discussion section of their APA report, perhaps sexual identity is a better concept to consider when discussing categorical change. If someone shifts a Kinsey point or two, one might feel satisfied with this and justified in considering themselves to have changed.
As I have noted, the distance between opposing views may be narrowing significantly.