Wednesday, August 5, 2009
NEW YORK – The American Psychological Association declared Wednesday
that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can
become straight through therapy or other treatments. Instead, the APA
urged therapists to consider multiple options — that could range from
celibacy to switching churches — for helping clients whose sexual
orientation and religious faith conflict.
In a resolution adopted on a 125-to-4 vote by the APA's governing
council, and in a comprehensive report based on two years of research,
the 150,000-member association put itself firmly on record in
opposition of so-called "reparative therapy" which seeks to change
No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the report,
and some research suggests that efforts to produce change could be
harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.
The APA had criticized reparative therapy in the past, but a six-member
task force added weight to this position by examining 83 studies on
sexual orientation change conducted since 1960. Its comprehensive
report was endorsed by the APA's governing council in Toronto, where
the association's annual meeting is being held this weekend.
The report breaks new ground in its detailed and nuanced assessment of
how therapists should deal with gay clients struggling to remain loyal
to a religious faith that disapproves of homosexuality.
Judith Glassgold, a Highland Park, N.J., psychologist who chaired the
task force, said she hoped the document could help calm the polarized
debate between religious conservatives who believe in the possibility
of changing sexual orientation and the many mental health professionals
who reject that option.
"Both sides have to educate themselves better," Glassgold said in an
interview. "The religious psychotherapists have to open up their eyes
to the potential positive aspects of being gay or lesbian. Secular
therapists have to recognize that some people will choose their faith
over their sexuality."