Wednesday, August 5, 2009


APA shoots down "reparative" therapy

First - an apology for my rather lengthy absence, I'll try to be a bit more active on current things and I appreciate those that continue to stop by this blog.

Today, the American Psychological Association issued it's strongest opposition to date regarding "reparative therapies" for gays and lesbians - and with that likely us transpeople as well. The statement plainly states that therapists should not ascribe to this hurtful, harmful approach to helping an LGB/T member through the challenges of coping with the condemnations and conflicts posed by their faith. But the APA stops short of where it needs to go.

The statement suggests that therapists recommend celibacy to LGB/T people in faith conflicts, or suggesting switching to a different faith journey. I don't see how celibacy is a viable option - would the APA suggest celibacy to hetero people who might be in conflict with their religious teachings? Many Catholics do use birth control in conflict with church teachings for example. Surely the APA understands, and should support, the notion that a healthy, active sex life is important to the overall mental health of all of us. Yes, some are, indeed, celibate - no quibble with that. But to suggest "celibacy" is a viable option for those that do desire sexual relationships, to me is callow and probably trading one "misery" (faith conflict) for another "misery" (no sex life).

Pointing someone toward a different faith path is a bit more appealing, but, I think, minimizes the importance of one's existing faith journey. Yes, many faiths are not kind to LGB/T people in their approach to our identities and lives - but that is only one, and some might even argue, small facet to the overall faith experience. So, while better that offering up celibacy as an answer, this isn't as potentially satisfying either.

Interesting that I encountered someone today who overheard a conversation I was having with a couple of other people. "Vince" identified himself as gay - and conservative - and Catholic. And he spoke of the marginalization he felt from the LGB/T community for his political and religious beliefs. It would have been easy for me to say, "like duh!" aren't ALL LGB/T people "liberal"...and not in less than supportive churches? And that was his point - a point I understood and supported. A therapist is to tell "Vince" he needs to leave the Catholic church?

The final point here is that the APA stopped short of where it needed to go - outright condemnation of "reparative therapy" including loss of licensure for those that practice this incredibly archaic and unproductive approach to mental health. "Aversion therapies" such as those made famous in "A Clockwork Orange" have been well proven to be ineffective at best and excruciatingly harmful at worst. Many of the "techniques" used by those that practice reparative therapies - and under the cloak of "religion" hence beyond regulation or the law - are roundly condemned by the APA and others and can, in fact, result in loss of license.

Read the article in the hotlink above and you'll find that some of the reparative therapists are finding some wiggle room with this new proclamation. There should be none. Period.

1 comment:

Ephilei said...

I have not read the repot. Does it say anything about trans people specifically?

I think you overestimate the therapist's role. Generally, a client choose their path and the therapist gives them the tools to follow through. Vince's therapist does not need to tell him to do anything. If he's having trouble choosing a path, the therapist may think thru his choices.

And actually, the APA's report didn't ban reparative therapy. If both the client and therapist choose reparative therapy, the APA is accepting their choice. But the APA is admonishing the unethical practices of reparative therapists such as not telling the client the low chance of their success and many of the techniques you alluded to.