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.

Richard Cohen, Founder of International Healing Foundation, to Conduct Meeting for Unification Church

Richard Cohen, founding guru of the International Healing Foundation, just can’t quit the Unification Church.
Despite saying a bunch of times that he left the church, he and his staff just keep showing up on their agenda. Now he is doing one of his healing ex-gay workshops for Unificationists with Phillip Schanker, one of the chief Unificationists in the U.S., as host. Although not sponsored by the Family Federation, the workshop is hosted by Schanker and is being marketed to disciples of the late Sun Myung Moon.

This program is sponsored and hosted by Phillip Schanker, former director of the family department of the Unification Community in the USA. Our special guest facilitator is Richard Cohen, M.A., psychotherapist, author, and founder of the International Healing Foundation (IHF), who has helped thousands experience radical healing and freedom over the past 27 years. To learn more about IHF and Richard’s personal journey from homosexual to heterosexual, visit www.comingoutloved.com
NOTE: This private retreat is intended for current or former Unificationists and their loved ones, but it is not sponsored by or affiliated with the FFWPU. To respect those who would prefer that your participation be confidential, your registration information will be known only to Phillip Schanker, and only registered participants will receive details about the location of the program.

This makes sense as Moon’s son endorses Cohen as the foremost expert in the church.
Despite claims that she left the church, IHF staffer Hilde Wiemann conducted workshops for the Unification Church in 2013.
In my opinion, the IHF bottom line is money. The source of it doesn’t much matter.
Richard Cohen in action. Wonder if there will be a special price on tennis racquets at the conference?
[youtube]http://youtu.be/VtGouVqsmsg[/youtube]
H/t: HWDYKYM

International Healing Foundation Staffer Conducts Workshops For Unification Church

In 2007, parenting specialist at the International Healing Foundation Hilde Wiemann first denied, then admitted being involved in the Unification Church (Church of Sun Myung Moon who taught that he was the Messiah). Due to her involvement, the International Healing Foundation was briefly placed back on Steve Hassan’s list of Unificationist front groups.  IHF was originally placed on Hassan’s list because Cohen was once a member of the UC. IHF was removed when Wiemann recanted and declared the UC to be a “satanic, heretical cult.” IHF founder Richard Cohen initially denied Wiemann was a part of the church but later acknowledged her statement.
Apparently, Ms. Wiemann has changed her mind again. She recently presented a series of sessions along with long time UC member Pam Stein on behalf of the Women’s Federation for World Peace. The WFWP is a Unification Church entity headed by Angelika Selle. Selle pastors a UC church in MD and was appointed to her post as president of the American WFWP by none other than True Mother, Sun Myung Moon’s wife, Hak Ja Han Moon.
Ms. Wiemann has also changed her name. She now goes by Hilde Reinold in her non-IHF pursuits. Any doubt about her identity is dispelled by her Hilltop Retreat bio:

Hildegard Reinold grew up in a small town in Austria and came to the United States in 1982, where she married her husband, John Wiemann. John works hand-in-hand with Hilde as a massage therapist and Shiatsu specialist. John and Hilde have two sons and one daughter in their 20s, all happily married. Being a mother was and is the most important and fulfilling part of Hilde’s life.

IHF continues to partner with Reinold/Wiemann however, often using her Hilltop Retreat Center for their workshops. She is listed as Hilde Wiemann in the IHF literature but Hilde Reinold on the brochure promoting the UC workshop (note arrows pointing out the audience and the presenters):

I addition to the tele-course, Rienold/Wiemann led a session for the WFWP in October as a part of their of their annual National Assembly. During this event, Reinold/Wiemann presented a break out session on leadership and was quoted extensively in the article.
Reinold/Wiemann is not a peripheral player at IHF. In IHF’s Winter, 2012 newsletter, Cohen lauded Wiemann as a “true sister” and said she is “intrinsically laced into the fabric of IHF.”
In October 2012, one of Moon’s sons, Hyung Jin Moon identified Richard Cohen as being in the UC movement and as the “foremost expert” on homosexuality in the UC. There was no comment at the time from Cohen.
For more on the UC, see this in depth New Republic report from Mariah Blake.
 
 

Reparative therapy subject of Dr. Oz Show

The Dr. Oz Show today will feature Chris Doyle from the International Healing Foundation, Julie Hamilton from NARTH and Rich Wyler from People Can Change arguing in favor of sexual orientation change efforts. You can see teasers for the show here. Others will take the alternative point of view as well and you can see some of their views at the Dr. Oz website.

This show comes as Cohen’s methods and allies at JONAH are being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for consumer fraud.

International Healing Foundation Strikes Gold with School Project

After years of reporting meager income from operations of the International Healing Foundation, Richard Cohen reported over $600,000 in revenue on his 990 form for 2011. Most of that total – $540,000 – was revenue related to an IHF “special school project.” See below:

 The IHF website is silent about this project but it seems likely that this is the educational initiative Cohen described in his Fall 2007 newsletter. After lamenting what he considered to be school indoctrination relating to homosexuality, Cohen provided his solution:

To fill in the blanks left by the public school systems’ strictly gay-affirming curricula, the International Healing Foundation is set to produce a short DVD. This film is designed to be part of the schools’ health education courses, and clearly shows that people can change and come out of homosexuality. The film will feature the true story of a young man and his parents, as well as interviews with several other men and women who have made the change from gay to straight. Half the film’s $40,000 budget has been raised. The International Healing Foundation needs your help in raising the remaining $20,000 to make this film a reality. Please help save our children, and set the record straight!

Once this project is completed, an additional one million dollars will be needed to send a copy of the DVD to every school district in the country. We will urge them to provide a DVD for each of their schools, so the complete story of homosexuality can be told. This historical film will have the power to turn the tide of strictly gay affirmation by proclaiming the truth about change. Millions of students will then have the opportunity to decide for themselves the kind of life they choose to live.

As improbable as it might seem, it appears that IHF has found a donor or several donors willing to fund this effort. The project appears to be moving forward. According to the 990, IHF has spent over $180,000 on expenses relating to the “special school project.”

Yesterday I reported that Unification Church president, Hyung Jin Moon considers IHF founder Richard Cohen to be a member of the Unification church movement and the foremost expert on homosexuality in the church. With this school project, Cohen apparently wants to bring his “expertise” to the nations’ schools. Given the volatile climate of public schools related to anti-gay bullying, I am nervous about the impact of schools showing a video from IHF to students.

While I doubt these clips are a part of the school video, it is worth remembering how Cohen approaches sexual reorientation. First from a CNN appearance:

and then from the documentary, Chasing the Devil:

UPDATE: Another more likely possibility for the video expenses is the underwriting of Acception Productions (another hat tip to David Hart for reminding me of this). This video purports to be about bullying prevention but adds a “U” (for unwanted) to the usual GLBT designation of same sex orientation. Thus, IHF attempts to straddle the fence – claiming to support kids who are same-sex attracted but also supporting reparative therapy interventions which pathologize them. How ironic. Initially, Cohen claimed that gays were using the schools to advance ideological ends and now he is doing it for the same purpose.

Here is a description of the initial showing of their video to public school staff:

The event also featured a talk by Betsy Gallun, Supervisor of Health Education, Prince George’s County, MD and a panel discussion of middle and high school students from the Washington, DC area that was moderated by WHUR’s Molette Green.

Here is the trailer for the video:

In the curriculum booklet which accompanies Acception is this gem which is supposed to be discussed with students:

Group 5: Innate and Developmental Characteristics. – We are all born with unique personalities. We also develop specific characteristics through familial and environmental factors. In Acception, the cartoon “Are People Born Gay?” examines the scientific evidence surrounding homosexuality, and concludes with the American Psychological Association that: “Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”49 With your group, discuss some of the characteristics people are born with, as well as other characteristics that are acquired. What do you think we can and cannot change about ourselves? Share your thoughts with your classmates, and remember to accept and appreciate everyone’s opinion.

And then this claim is made regarding sexual orientation change:

Group 9: Respecting Choices. – While most people experience little or no choice in their sexual attractions, many people make decisions based on their personal, religious, and/or cultural values when it comes to their sexual behavior. For example, some individuals who experience same-sex attraction may find their feelings are at odds with their values and choose not to engage in homosexual behavior. Others, still, may actually experience a shift or change in their sexual feelings throughout their lives due to a variety of experiences; in fact, emerging research is finding that sexuality is somewhat fluid for certain individuals, and should not be viewed as fixed or permanent.52,53,54,55,56

I think it will be clear to most long time observers of IHF that this video is simply a means of getting the “change is possible” message in the schools. While I have no problem with the idea that some people choose to align their behavior with religious beliefs, it is another thing entirely to give students false hope and then route them to religiously oriented ex-gay programs which use bizarre methods to try to reorient sexuality.

Hat tip to David Hart.

Unification Church President Says Richard Cohen is Foremost Expert on Gays in Their Movement

From 2007 through 2008, I wrote a series of posts which revealed ongoing ties between the Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation and the Unification Church (aka Moonies). Initially, Cohen’s staffer Hilde Wiemann denied she was a member of the movement but then later admitted she had been in the movement long after Cohen said there were no ties between his organization and the church.

This week I have come across video which again links Cohen with the Unification church. On October 7, 2012, Moon’s son and president of the Unification Church Hyung Jin Moon held a town hall meeting at the Unification Bay Area Family Church. Sun Myung Moon recently died, but in 2008, he appointed Hjung Jin to be the leader of the church.

The full three hour video is here. Below is a brief excerpt of Hyung Jin’s answer to a question about homosexuality (at about 2 hours and 40 minutes into the session):

Moon says:

Richard Cohen is a member in our movement who has worked on this tremendously, the whole issue. Even as you mentioned, you said that people are gay through no fault of their own. But of course this is debatable; that’s an assumption. Richard Cohen actually debates that assumption. He’s actually an expert on this issue and so maybe we can connect you to him, Richard Cohen. If you could, give your contact information to Dr. Grubb, we will try to connect you to Richard Cohen. I think in our movement he is probably the foremost expert on that whole issue, and hopefully he can contribute and helping us with programs in the future as well.

I have asked IHF for comment with no immediate response. The mention of Cohen by Unification Church President Hyung Jin Moon does not conclusively prove that Cohen is member of the church. Perhaps Cohen is the only person Hyung Jin knows who claims expertise regarding homosexuality. However, the way he describes Cohen and the ease with which he indicates he can connect the questioner with Cohen again raises questions about Cohen’s earlier denials.

Cohen said he left the Unification Church in 1995. Hyung Jin was about 16 years old at the time.

Is PFOX anti-ex-gay?

A couple of weeks ago, the Parents and Friends of Ex-gays asked the riveting question: Is Grove City College anti-ex-gay?
Now I want to know, Is PFOX anti-ex-gay? Let me explain why inquiring minds want to know.
In apparent answer to the query about GCC, the PFOX blog poster reproduced Peter LaBarbera’s call to action and the One”News”Now article about me. Because I dispute stereotypes about gays and report the research as it is, LaBarbera says I engage in “pro-homosexual activism.” Here is the crux of my crimes:

“But in the last few years, he’s basically become a pro-gay advocate who discredits the idea of change for most homosexuals,” LaBarbera explains. “He grants the idea that they can change, but he says change is very rare.

Well, OK.
Now let’s consider PFOX. On the governing board of PFOX is Chris Doyle who is a “resident psychotherapist” at Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. IHF recently issued an apology to the gay community for “fueling anti-gay sentiment” by stating that “change is possible.”
IHF now refers clients to a host of gay-affirming organizations and resources, including GLSEN and PFOX’s pfavorite organization, PFLAG. The PFLAG reference is especially relevant to the question – “is PFOX anti-ex-gay?” PFOX has accused PFLAG of making hateful statements about former homosexuals. Now that a PFOX board member is a principle figure in an organization that refers people to an organization that makes hateful statements about former homosexuals, then it seems reasonable to ask if PFOX is anti-itself.
I also must wonder if One”News”Now and AFTAH are getting soft on gays. Consider the evidence.
On October 28, 2011, IHF made their apology for “fueling anti-gay sentiment” and posted their references to GLSEN and PFLAG on their website. To date, One”News”Now has ignored the story. And even more puzzling is the absence of an AFTAH-inspired call for PFOX to explain how their board member’s open advocacy of pro-homosexual, anti-ex-gay advocacy fits within their mission.
Almost a month has gone by and this blatant pro-homosexualist initiative at IHF has gone unchecked!
What is wrong with this picture!?
TAKE ACTION! DO NOTHING! CALL NO ONE!
 
P.S. Sorry, I got a little hyperbolic there at the end. 

International Healing Foundation comes out?

Or something.
Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation has re-invented itself as a LGBTQU (U for unwanted) organization on a new website called Coming Out Loved.
On Coming Out Loved, gay affirming people can find a page full of LGB resources as well as an apology from Cohen:

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.

Really? Is this a sign of the apocalypse?
Whatever it is, I doubt it is going very far. The website also has the old references to same-sex attraction being caused by environment and family background, and to treatment to resolve “unwanted same-sex attraction.” NARTH’s protocol for change therapy is there along with the old list of reparative therapists for referral. Cohen is still offering his book Coming Out Straight, one of the most direct promotions of the change paradigm ever. Moreover, Chris Doyle is speaking this weekend at the NARTH conference, along with a speaker who promotes criminalization of homosexuality.
Perhaps I am cynical, but the changes just look like business as usual along with a parody of gay affirming therapy.

 
 
 
But then again, in the promo video for the new attitude, there is a rainbow flag. (Note the flag circled in the screen cap to the left).
 
 
 
I am looking forward to seeing reaction from AFTAH, PFOX, Liberty Counsel, JONAH and the like.
Seriously, if the IHF crew want to be taken seriously, they need to explain more about how and why they are expecting people to trust them. Also, if the same touch therapy and pillow beating protocols are on the table, then taking a neutral stance is still not enough to address concerns about their work.
 

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.

CNN, Richard Cohen and California dreaming

More later, but here is the CNN episode which discusses the CA law which once required study of factors which might lead to homosexuality.

Cohen quotes the ACP sheet that I just critiqued…

It must have been a very slow news day for this story to make CNN. The law involved has apparently not been used and is an anachronism. Even if it stays on the books, I suspect the CA legislature would grant about $1 to fulfill it. Pointless.

UPDATE:

CNN follows up with Clinton Anderson. Kyra Phillips says she supports gays and makes an good call for civility.