APA Supports Therapy For Unwanted Homosexual Tendencies

GayAdvocates of psychological counseling for people experiencing unwanted attraction to members of the same sex say the American Psychological Association may be softening its position on their services. But a spokesman for the APA says it still questions the validity of reparative or conversion therapy for homosexuals.
During its recent annual convention in New Orleans, the APA issued a statement to Cybercast News Service in response to a protest and petition by members and supporters of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). The group supports licensed psychologists who use therapy to help people experiencing unwanted same-sex attractions.
“The APA’s concern about the positions espoused by NARTH and so-called conversion therapy is that they are not supported by the science,” APA Public Affairs Manager Pamela Willenz wrote in the emailed response. “There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.”
But Willenz apparently did not discuss her comments with APA President Gerald P. Koocher, who addressed convention attendees on the same subject.
“APA has no conflict,” Koocher said, “with psychologists who help those distressed by unwanted homosexual attraction.”
Alan Chambers is president of Exodus International, a group of Christian ministries focused on outreach to those who have unwanted same sex attraction. He participated in the New Orleans protest and told Cybercast News Service Monday that Koocher’s remarks signal a change in the APA’s stance on homosexuality.
“I believe that they are under increased pressure by people like me, the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have successfully overcome their homosexual attractions and us putting pressure on them along with members of their own organization,” Chambers explained, “saying we are helping a client in their autonomy and their right to self-determination.”
That pressure, Chambers said, is not going away.
“We are going to keep putting pressure on the APA until they publicly affirm [us] via a resolution that states that therapists should be able to help a client who presents a conflict with their sexuality,” Chambers added.
But Clinton Anderson, director of the APA Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns Office, disputed Chambers’ assessment.
“There is no change in the APA’s stance on homosexuality or related issues,” Anderson said. “The issue is not whether sexual orientation changes. We know that the issue is whether therapy changes sexual orientation, which is what many of these people claim.”
Anderson claims that there is “no evidence” that reparative or conversion therapies work and asserted that “they may in fact cause harm for many people.”
But Chambers identifies himself as part of the “evidence” that Anderson claims does not exist.
“If they’ve done any kind of study that’s proven that reparative therapy [does not work] or that change isn’t possible,” Chambers insisted, “then they’ve obviously not interviewed those of us who have successfully overcome homosexuality.”
Anderson conceded that it is the motivation of many therapists involved in reparative and conversion therapies, rather that the effectiveness of the programs, with which he takes issue.
“The APA, of course, recognizes the issue of client autonomy to set their goals,” Anderson said. “But we also still see that people who promote reparative therapy are promoting a prejudicial attitude toward homosexuality.”
Anderson complained that while some psychologists using reparative or conversion therapies claim to agree that homosexuality is not a mental illness, “everything they do indicates to me they still believe it is a mental disorder.”
Chambers believes that position is politically motivated.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with science,” Chambers said. “I think it has everything to do with politics.”
from Cybercast News Service

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