Psychologists Take Another Look At Ex-Gay Therapy

As survivors of ex-gay programs ramp up their efforts to draw attention to programs’ harmful effects, the American Psychological Association has said it will review its stance on the issue. According to a policy adopted a decade ago, the ADA opposes therapy that treats homosexuality as an illness, but it does not explicitly oppose “reparative therapy,” as ex-gay programs are often called.

But not all reparative therapy takes place in psychologists’ offices. The programs are often associated with churches and run the gamut from low-pressure support groups to exorcism-like rituals. It’s unclear how a change in the ADA’s policy would affect such programs.

continued…From the Washington Post:

As the APA planned the policy review, it received input from gay-rights groups, including Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

PFLAG’s executive director, Jody Huckaby, said reparative therapy had been particularly harmful for young gays whose parents insisted on trying to change their sexual orientation. His group contends these efforts can cause depression and suicidal behavior.

Current APA policy stipulates that no therapy should occur without “informed consent” of a gay or lesbian client. Jason Cianciotto of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said he hoped the APA would declare that no young person could ever be deemed to have given informed consent, and thus no reparative therapy would be approved for minors.

The largest ministry that does counsel gays to change their sexual orientation is Exodus International. Its president, Alan Chambers _ who says prayer and therapy enabled him to move away from homosexuality _ is among those apprehensive of the APA review.

“I had hoped for more diversity on that panel,” Chambers said. “I see a lot of people who represent the other side _ who don’t believe that people like me have a right to self-determination.”