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Report: Ex-gay therapy does not work

Ramsey DeHani August 6, 2009
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The American Psychological Association (APA) released a report yesterday firmly stating that homosexuality cannot be cured.

The report also advises that parents, young people and their families “avoid sexual orientation treatments that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder”.

Ex-gay therapy is practiced by a number of religious organisations. It has been condemned as ineffective at best and deeply damaging at worst.

The APA declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973.

Judith Glassgold, chair of the task force assigned to the study, said: “There is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation.”

She added: “Contrary to the claims of SOCE [sexual orientation change efforts] practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change.”

The 138-report, which analysed 83 studies, also listed prescribed methods in which mental health professionals can deal with those who are struggling with their sexuality.

“Practitioners can assist clients through therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development without imposing a specific identity outcome,” Glassgold added.

“In other words, we recommend that psychologists be completely honest about the likelihood of sexual orientation change, and that they help clients explore their assumptions and goals with respect to both religion and sexuality,” she continued, citing religious beliefs as a major cause for distress over orientation.

This report comes after ex-gay centres in the US were thrown back into the spotlight with news on gay exorcisms taking place and on the disappearance of medical student Bryce Faulkner, who is thought to have been sent to one of these centres.

In a recent report by on the ex-gay movement, it was found that even the heads of the ex-gay movement agree with the APA’s assertion that “at most . . . some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions” and that sexual orientation cannot be changed.

Exodus International, one of the largest ex-gay ministries in the world, now teaches this very message: “Change in orientation is not possible.”

The APA’s report added that it was unclear how long ‘ignoring’ these attractions lasted or or what the long-term mental health effects are. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex, it found.

The study also found that “attempts to change sexual orientation may cause or exacerbate distress and poor mental health in some individuals, including depression and suicidal thoughts.”

In a statement, Exodus International said: “While Exodus does not fully agree with the APA’s criticisms of clinical techniques such as reparative therapy and its view of sexual orientation change, the report does recognise that some choose to live their lives in congruence with religious values.

“Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, says that not only is faith is an essential part of life for many gay men and women, it is almost always the motivating factor behind their decision to leave it behind.”

Earlier this year, research found that one in six therapists in Britain had tried to turn gay people straight.

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