Clarification regarding study quoted in essay about Exodus founders

In my recent article regarding the founders of Exodus, I made the following quote referencing a study of counseling with gays and lesbians:

“For instance, in a recent study of 2000 episodes of counseling with 600 gays, only 13 episodes were identified as involving sexual reorientation therapy.”

The reference for the study is: Jones, M.A., Botsko, M., & Gorman, B.S. (2003). Predictors of psychotherapeutic benefit of lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients: The effects of sexual orientation matching and other factors. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 40, 289-301.

There were a number of factors examined but the authors asked 600 glb people who had been involved in any kind of counseling to report on their experiences with their counselors. The word episode refers to all the sessions with one counselor. So roughly we are talking about 600 people who consulted nearly 2000 counselors for an average of 3.3 episodes (counselors) each.

Of the nearly 2000 episodes of counseling reported on by these 600 clients, only 13 were with counselors who engaged in reorientation counseling. Remember this is more than 13 sessions but thirteen different counselors out of nearly 2000 reported on. So less than 1% of the episodes involved counseling situations that the gay and lesbian clients now see as being at odds with their current orientation. Remarkably, 48% of the clients were confused about their orientation at the time they went into counseling. These are the kind of clients that would seem to be vulnerable to therapists offering or attempting to impose reorientation interventions. However, less than 1% the counseling episodes included reorientation therapy. This does not sound like evidence of widespread harm done by counselors to vulnerable clients.

Also, on the point of widespread harm, the one other study (Shidlo and Schroeder) that surveyed clients who said they had been harmed by reorientation counseling took 5 years to find 176 people that experienced harm. This is a long period of time, despite the fact, that the effort was sponsored by gay and lesbian organizations and publicized widely in these circles. In contrast, Spitzer took less than 2 years to find 200 people who met his stringent criteria for change.

Those who have been harmed I do not doubt. What I think this evidence supports is that there are people doing things in the name of reorientation that are harmful and they need to be stopped. However, as evidence of widespread harm, I do not think the case is made.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/6535531 PBCliberal

    I think what this evidence supports is that people who are harmed by reparative therapy are hard to find.

    How many people who seek reparative therapy reject it so completely that they’d be easy to contact for a glb study?

    The closet is a wonderful thing if you’re a researcher seeking to prove an outcome the religious rightwing is willing to pay for.

    There are all kinds of ways to rig a study just by using people’s unwillingness to publicly identify as gay.

    The only products of reparative therapy that are going to voluteer for this kind of study are the Wade Richards who get so pissed off at the way they’ve been manipulated that they come out loud.

    How many of the failures go back to their churches, and do what they’ve always done: have homosexual sex on the downlow and cover their tracks with insincere occasional opposite-sex dating or a flawed marriage?

    Could it be that what the low numbers illustrate is that a high percentage of the people who pass through these programs enter in the shadows and leave in them. I’m surprised that 176 people could be found in 5 years who even realized what they went through was harmful. In a strange way, these people were probably helped far more than many who couldn’t be found.

  • kaiwai

    Jack Drescher says he thinks people being harmed are growing in numbers. If this was true then there must be people who are coming forward.

    I think the interesting part, also, with this study is the fact that there is no definition of how one define harm, the extensiveness of this harm, and the background of those who felt uncomfortable with their sexual orientation.

    Its all very well coming up with a study, but when the weight is equal to that of a feather, it really leaves more questions opened than answered.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    pbcliberal:

    Jack Drescher says he thinks people being harmed are growing in numbers. If this was true then there must be people who are coming forward. So you’re thoughts would not be supported by his statements.

    The closet is a wonderful thing if you’re a researcher seeking to prove an outcome the religious rightwing is willing to pay for.

    This statement is baseless and untrue. No one has paid me for the research I have done. I have done it on my own time at my own expense.

    There are all kinds of ways to rig a study just by using people’s unwillingness to publicly identify as gay.

    What study was rigged? I am reporting on peer reviewed studies done by gay researchers. Shidlo and Schroeder are gay men active in gay political causes. The study was supported by money from gay organizations. I think you are speaking from ignorance here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/6535531 PBCliberal

    I’m talking in the general here. These studies don’t have a large enough sample size to draw any significant conclusions. The Botsko and Gorman study appears from your description to be a general study on the effectiveness and outcome of all therapy on glb clients. Six hundred subjects its the bare minimum you need to draw conclusions assuming its a statistically valid sample.

    But who is in the sample? Those who identify as glb. But the point of reparative therapy is to get rid of those nasty same sex attractions in a population that doesn’t identify as glb. So the people who you are trying to draw conclusions about are the very people who are paying good money to not be considered as members of the group studied.

    What would be interesting, though certainly not statistically significant, would be how many of the 13 out of the 600 who were in reparative therapy were dissatisfied or even angry at the outcome. I don’t see that anywhere in your description.

    What I do see, is the argument that this isn’t a problem because it doesn’t happen to many people. Of course it doesn’t; have you forgotten that you’re in the small minority that believes in this treatment modality? There are only 13 because most responsible therapists don’t do it. Aren’t you the guy trying to change the mind of the public and treatment community that the majority opinion is wrong?

    I do think you’re rigging your reportage by drawing a conclusion from this study that was not intended to be drawn, and I do think you’re being paid by people who would not countenance homosexuality or a professional conclusion that it was an acceptable practice on staff or in the student population. That’s the flipside of your attack that gay money paid for Shidlo and Shroeder; in making it you take the chance of impeaching yourself.

    The big problem here is that we don’t know what the total gay (evangelical translation: same sex attracted) population is.

    Both sides work this to what they believe is their advantage. In the day when the anti-gay folks wanted to minimize numbers, they dressed women in conservative clothes, sent them door to door in the suburbs and asked men who answered the door, “are you gay?” That’s like putting an IRS cap on a guy with a clipboard and sending him out to ask “Do you cheat on your taxes?” Guess what? The gay percentage in the population was almost nil.

    The Simmons study designed to pitch the gay community as rich DINKs to ad agencies did the reverse. They did interviews at the gay movable feasts of the 80s and 90s. The March on Washington, Stonewall, et al. These places were full of gay yuppies who used their frequent flier miles to party for their rights, and was completely misrepresentative of the gay population.

    We still don’t know much about the gay population: there is no clear universe. So its easy to get the answer you desire by how and more important where you ask the question.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    Did you read the part of my post that said half of the subjects were either conflicted or confused about their sexual orientation when they entered counseling? If there was increasing harm out in the real world from therapists exploiting confused clients, we would expect to see it in naturalistic studies like this. I think that harmful things are done in the name of reorientation therapy but I see no evidence of widespread harm nor of substantial percentages of the gay & lesbian community that have been effected. Just as some in the ex-gay world say their experience should be normative for all, some of those who have been harmed want to generalize their experiences to everyone. Most of what passes as discussion on this issue is due to attempts to generalize one or a few instances to everybody else.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/6535531 PBCliberal

    I did indeed read that clients were conflicted; what troubles me is this seems the wrong argument for somebody who produced I Do Exist! to be making.

    I probably should go read the study for myself, but from your description, it appears that everybody in the study population identifies as glb, or they wouldn’t be in the study. But reparative therapy generally promotes terms like “same sex attraction” and “homosexual tendencies” in a population who would sometimes rather die than identify as glb.

    So your argument seems to be a ringing endorsement for mainstream therapy consistent with the APA et. al’s guidelines that you spend a great deal of time traveling around attacking.

    You’re right. There’s no evidence of widespread harm among people who identify as glb. From the numbers, most of them probably weren’t even offered it as an option, considering only 13 out of 600 got any such counseling. But isn’t that one of the talking points against the APA policies themselves?

    The therapists exploiting confused clients don’t take their clients to where they’d be participants in this study, at least if its a study of people who identify as glb.

    This study is a ringing endorsement for everything you eschew. You seem to be bragging that we are all safe because you haven’t been very successful in achieving your goals.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    The study participants were gay identified at the time of the study not at the time they went to counseling. You continue to obscure the reason I even brought the study out. Critics say reorientation harm is increasing and that it is widespread. Where is the evidence? If the charges were true, one would expect more than 13 episodes to show up. I recognize that if you asked ex-gays (as I have done) you get more episodes. But I am wondering where the evidence of widespread harm is.

  • kaiwai

    RE: CK

    And to pbcliberal, while I think some of your generalizations may be true, there are also stories of drug use, rampant infidelity, etc. as integral to the ‘homosexual lifestyle’ …which get used against us.

    Which is also used by ex-gays to justify their stance; it would be nice for once, for adults to stand up and say, “I made the choice to take drugs – it has nothing to do with my sexuality, income bracket etc. etc.” – but then again, thats probably asking too much – when someone is at the lowest they can go, they tend to grasp onto any straws that seem to have some sort of good excuses attached to them.

    Hence the reason I am sceptical about re-orientation therapy, where by the counsellor would simply be treating the symptoms or the ‘most obvious’ when in reality, the same sex attraction isn’t causing the downward spiral of self destruction, but something completely different altogether.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    CK – Average age of 41 at the time of the study and 26 when they first consulted a counselor (range 5 to 58). 65% were women which is probably relevant. Ninety percent were college grads. I do not know of any work with teens outside of anecdotes from NARTH therapists. I am aware that Mark Yarhouse from Regent is currently doing such a study.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11023342 disciplerofself

    I participate in a Christian support group for people with depression. They too often have complaints about how they’ve been harmed in counseling of one type or another. It seems to me that people who fail to find relief in their emotional conflict or distress over their emotional or mental states, whatever those states are, are looking for someone, anyone, to blame for them not feeling ‘normal’ and happy with themselves. Usually they are unwilling to look within themselves and trust God with that inward looking process. It says more about the individual than it does about any counselor or counseling philosophy, it seems to me.

  • kaiwai

    Kawai: I was agreeing with you… !? ‘Us’ in my comment = gay people who don’t want to be ex-gay.

    Sorry about that, sometimes I don’t aways read all the post fully :*(

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11035139 orionsbelt

    This post has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11035139 orionsbelt

    I find it somewhat astounding that one of the posters here seems to take the stance the study in question does not prove there is no wide spread harm done by reparative therapy. This belief on behalf of the poster is obviously fraught with conjecture. First of all, what “harm” is in this context is highly subjective. Any measure of psychological or emotional “harm” by the researchers creating this study is by default subjective. On the other hand, there is ample empirical evidence that homosexual affirmative therapies are extremely damaging. We do have, afterall, several hundreds of thousands of dead homosexual men to date who were most assuredly loved and affirmed in their condition to there own demise.

    The poster further makes the point that somehow it would not be an extremely easy task to find people with complaints about reparative therapy. The poster presumes that people once having been in reparative therapy would not be readily predisposed to speak of the experience. This would also be false. Anyone with even a slight understanding of human behavior understands that people complain. They complain all the time. Everyday of our lives we will hear someone somewhere complain to someone about something if we aren’t already doing so ourselves. We human beings do it very readily. Human beings are far more likely to expend the energy and time to complain, write letters of complaint, and call to complain then we are to compliment. Anyone here should feel free to call the APA, AMA, ADA, or most any corporate office of any organization and ask them if they receive more complaints or compliments and accolades in writting from the general public.

    Personally, myself I find what has been deemed reparative therapy to be a joke. I find most practitioners trying to help people back to their true selves as abysmal idiots. What I do believe and fully understand however is becoming the heterosexual that you always were in the first place is easily achievable by anyone who has upwards of a decade of time and the courage to go through the utter emotional hell to get there. It is mush easier to remian for one’s life in whatever comfort zone with whatever mechanisms that were created for them.

    By year two of my healing I started having heterosexual ideation and more specifically developed an obsession for breasts but I still at times had homosexual ideation. By year 3 I was making up for lost time with the oppposite gender. By year 5, I had very little to almost no homosexual ideation and was still making up for lost time with the opposite gender. By year 7 I was beginning to be able to form more lasting bonds with the opposite gender. By year 10, I still had a fairly poor ability to choose an appropriate mate and tended to attach myself to manipulative women – but at least I could maintain the relationship for an extended period. By year 12 I finally learned how to get rid of a woman instantly if she possesed manipulative tendencies, and by year 15 I had finally developed a personality that naturally attracts and is attract to women secure and non threatened by their femininity who are emotionally in tune with and supprtive of my goals and desires.

    That being said, I find it highly ludicrous that anyone would find harmful ridding ones self of one’s homosexual symptomology in exhange for their naturally occuring heterosexual self.

    So the issue to me i.e. whether a study shows widespread harm or does not show wide spread harm is an idiotic and worthless conjecture in the first place.

    It should be accutely obvious that “harm” is a subjective construct dependent to the whims of whatever reality a person feels the need to fit the world into.

    during my changes I variously, became depressed, attempted suicide, became anxiety ridden, became paranoid, … I pushed myself through so many emotionally traumatic and schizoid states that I frankly lost count… yet they were all very good outcomes – the depression was good, the suicide attempt was extremely positive and productive. Yet there are plenty of unconcious people I am sure that would have labeled all these events as negative and would have labeled them as evidence of harm from therapy because that is what they need to do to fit things into their little boxes so they can maintain some type of grasp on their fragile concept of reality so they can feel safe again.

    I have no doubt that the researchers creating the study in question here are utterly unconcious that their initial premise and their measures for “harm” are nothing more then a window into their own subjective bias.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11035139 orionsbelt

    PBCliberal said…
    I’m talking in the general here.

    actually you were quite specific. And apparently not understanding that this study was generated by homosexual researchers with a pro-homosexual bias.

    PBCliberal said… These studies don’t have a large enough sample size to draw any significant conclusions.

    so then what you are saying is the pro homosexual stance of the researchers in this article and the pro homosexual and anti reparative therapy conclusions they derived are both false and misguided. Furthermore, you are saying that all the studies attempting to prove that homosexuality is genetic are all irrelevant studies of such small sample sizes as to make their results meaningless.

    PBCliberal said… The Botsko and Gorman study appears from your description to be a general study on the effectiveness and outcome of all therapy on glb clients. Six hundred subjects its the bare minimum you need to draw conclusions assuming its a statistically valid sample.

    By your own argument you have just declared every gay gene study invalid. WHich would be accurate – they were all garbage for science – but you may not be aware that in your contention as to sample size you have just stated that everything that every study homosexuals quote to say they are born that way or to say say that reparative therapy causes harm all have no validity.

    PBCliberal said… But who is in the sample? Those who identify as glb. But the point of reparative therapy is to get rid of those nasty same sex attractions in a population that doesn’t identify as glb. So the people who you are trying to draw conclusions about are the very people who are paying good money to not be considered as members of the group studied.

    wrong, I was as flaming as it gets, associated myself as homosexual, and paid good money for therapy, hospitals etc. Just because someone wants to get rid of their homosexual ideations does not mean they do not identify as gay or homosexual. Futhermore, Spitzers study was comprised solely of people who were attempting some type of change in their sexuality and he found no evidence of damage.

    PBCliberal said… What would be interesting, though certainly not statistically significant, would be how many of the 13 out of the 600 who were in reparative therapy were dissatisfied or even angry at the outcome. I don’t see that anywhere in your description.

    What I do see, is the argument that this isn’t a problem because it doesn’t happen to many people. Of course it doesn’t; have you forgotten that you’re in the small minority that believes in this treatment modality?

    That would be presumptive on your part – I have no doubt you have no source to cite as to what percentage of the APA believes that homosexuality is an innate trait that cannot be altered, or a source citing what percentage do not believe that homosexuality cannot be treated or a source to cite as to the percentage that “don’t believe in the modality”.

    PBCliberal said… There are only 13 because most responsible therapists don’t do it.

    again presumptive to use the phrase most. By default you have no idea what most therapists might do or not do for their clientele. As to the ethics of the subject if a client asks for therapy to change and you give them something different or you lay idiotic value judgements on them that they are wrong or bad to want to do so then you as atherapist have violated your own ethical obligation to remain neutral and violated that patients rights to seek the goals they wish to obtain.

    PBCliberal said… Aren’t you the guy trying to change the mind of the public and treatment community that the majority opinion is wrong?

    it is not a majority opinion. The APA just like all other organizations is a political organization. Rulings of some committee of some organization frequently do not reflect the beliefs or values of the members of that organization. For example, Catholic dogma states that Mary was bodily assumed into heaven – I know of very few catholics that actually believe this and more often then not they have never even given the issue any thought.

    Of the therapists I dealt with that did not believe in my goals all without exception had changed their thoughts on the subject by the time they were done dealing with me. I had no problem finding therapists who were sympathetic to my goal to get rid of homosexual ideation.

    Lastly, the logic of your defense in this section is faulty. You presume that if some tenet has a majority of people believing one or way or another that it proves or disproves the tenet. This would be an obvious error in logic. The vast majority of thinkers thought the world was flat. This did not make it true. It is a common rhetorical device used in debate the “we must be right we have the numbers” type of device. It is however a hollow argument with no substance.

    PBCliberal said… I do think you’re rigging your reportage by drawing a conclusion from this study that was not intended to be drawn,

    This would be more faulty logic. Drawing a conclusion from a study that is other then the hypothesis the study was attempting to support is common, normal, and has nothing to do with rigging. Furthermore, because a contrary conclusion can be derived from the same data does not negate the contrary conclusion.

    PBCliberal said… I do think you’re being paid by people who would not countenance homosexuality or a professional conclusion that it was an acceptable practice on staff or in the student population.

    that again would be presumtpive by default. You may think he is paid you may think he is not paid – either conjecture is presumptive. Furthermore, it is illogical to assume that if someone is paid to support or research some position that their conclusions are then invalid or somehow negated. If your argument were true then every gay-gene study in existance is invalid. Which they are – but not for that reason.

    PBCliberal said… That’s the flipside of your attack that gay money paid for Shidlo and Shroeder; in making it you take the chance of impeaching yourself.

    again that is presumptive – presuming that the originator of this blog is paid for his research by some group antithetical to pro homosexual causes.

    PBCliberal said… The big problem here is that we don’t know what the total gay (evangelical translation: same sex attracted) population is.

    that would be pretty innacurate also.

    PBCliberal said… Both sides work this to what they believe is their advantage. In the day when the anti-gay folks wanted to minimize numbers, they dressed women in conservative clothes, sent them door to door in the suburbs and asked men who answered the door, “are you gay?”

    please support this little factoid with genuine source citation that verifies people ever did this. Because frankly, it looks like garbage to me.

    PBCliberal said… That’s like putting an IRS cap on a guy with a clipboard and sending him out to ask “Do you cheat on your taxes?” Guess what? The gay percentage in the population was almost nil.

    yes the homosexual population is particularly small – though I would think it must be growing perhaps at a faster rate then the rate of attrition due to illness.

    PBCliberal said… The Simmons study designed to pitch the gay community as rich DINKs to ad agencies did the reverse. They did interviews at the gay movable feasts of the 80s and 90s. The March on Washington, Stonewall, et al. These places were full of gay yuppies who used their frequent flier miles to party for their rights, and was completely misrepresentative of the gay population.

    We still don’t know much about the gay population: there is no clear universe. So its easy to get the answer you desire by how and more important where you ask the question.

    I don’t know about that – John Money has done a great deal of research about “the community” in the Journal of homosexualities.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    This post has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/6535531 PBCliberal

    Orionsbelt: I assume you’re addressing me. We obviously aren’t going to agree, so just some quick links and comments.

    The “door to door” study was from Alan Guttmacher Institute, entitled The Sexual Behavior of Men in the United States, and was conducted in 1992.

    I could quote any number of gay publications on the wide varience of gay percentages, but you’d probably discount them as tainted. Or I could do mainstream stuff, but I suspect you’d find that to be political. So here’s Kirk Cameron
    “http://www.familyresearchinst.org/FRI_AIM_Talk.html”> saying it
    .

    You want to argue all kinds of claims that I haven’t made. If you want to change the subject, argue with somebody else.

    These are social studies. They’re essentially opinion surveys, and they’re not the same as gene research. Pardon me, but I’d like to assume that you really know the difference but just have to act like you don’t, because anti-gay folks–and let’s face it that’s what the ex-gays mostly are either directly or fronts for–are taking the same tack as the creation science folk. You’re using junk science and intentional obfuscation and bogus claims to try and use diversity to preach a message of intolerance.

    The difference between gene research and these studies is the difference between determining what happens when you mix ammonia and chorine by trying it, or by asking people what happens when you do it.

    If you’re trying it, you can do it a few times and when you can constantly replicate it, and when it doesn’t work exactly the same way every time, you can pinpoint exactly why, your research is done.

    But if you’re trying to find out what the average person believes will happen when you mix them, you have to ask a lot of people. You have to ask at least 600 if its an otherwise representatitive sample to get good data.

    With hard data, is replicability. But with opinions and beliefs, its sample size. These studies quoted by Throckmorton are opinion. Studies with small sample sizes that depend on opinion will be flawed no matter who pays for them or what they find.

    The “how happy are you with your therapy” study which had a sample size of 600, had a sample size of 17 when used the way Throckmorton tried to use it. If that’s not bad enough, it was a 17 from a universe that was biased with respect to what Throckmorton was trying to pull out.

    I’m not disturbed you don’t agree with me. I’m not upset that your path was different than mine. But I am very concerned that you see the problems when they’re inherent in the gay studies, but not when they’re in the ex-gay ones.

    It suggests that you’re trading your intellectual honesty for your desired outcome; that is usually a short term solution at best.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    pbcliberal -

    1. The study I quoted was not an ex-gay study, it was done as an inquiry by gay affirming authors into practices and preferences of 600 gay clients.

    2. Six hundred in social science is a pretty large N. While this study is not representative of the population, one cannot consider it small.

    3. There are a number of problems methodologically with the study and so I would not make absolute conclusions based on it. However, professional associations have made definitive statements (e.g., reorientation therapy is harmful) based on such scanty evidence. I wanted to point out that even the research they rely on does not support their conclusions.

    4. Thirteen is a small sample and that is exactly my point. A very small number of people rated their 13 courses of reorientation counseling low in satisfaction. If harm from the practice was more widespread, then I would expect more people (remember half were not solidly gay at the time of the study) to say they had been encouraged to consider this. I further recognize that perhaps this researcher just missed all of the people who are seeing Jack Drescher but given how long it took Shidlo and Schroeder to find their 176 participants, I don’t think so.


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