Wall Street Journal covers APA task force report and sexual identity therapy

The Wall Street Journal’s Stephanie Simon has captured well the application of the APA task force sexual orientation report in an article out this morning. Of course I would say that…

The men who seek help from evangelical counselor Warren Throckmorton often are deeply distressed. They have prayed, read Scripture, even married, but they haven’t been able to shake sexual attractions to other men — impulses they believe to be immoral.

Dr. Throckmorton is a psychology professor at a Christian college in Pennsylvania and past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He specializes in working with clients conflicted about their sexual identity.

The first thing he tells them is this: Your attractions aren’t a sign of mental illness or a punishment for insufficient faith. He tells them that he cannot turn them straight.

But he also tells them they don’t have to be gay.

For many years, Dr. Throckmorton felt he was breaking a professional taboo by telling his clients they could construct satisfying lives by, in effect, shunting their sexuality to the side, even if that meant living celibately. That ran against the trend in counseling toward “gay affirming” therapy — encouraging clients to embrace their sexuality.

But in a striking departure, the American Psychological Association said Wednesday that it is ethical — and can be beneficial — for counselors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions.

The APA is the largest association of psychologists world-wide, with 150,000 members. The association plans to promote the new approach to sexuality with YouTube videos, speeches to schools and churches, and presentations to Christian counselors.

According to new APA guidelines, the therapist must make clear that homosexuality doesn’t signal a mental or emotional disorder. The counselor must advise clients that gay men and women can lead happy and healthy lives, and emphasize that there is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation.

But if the client still believes that affirming his same-sex attractions would be sinful or destructive to his faith, psychologists can help him construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions, the APA says. That might require living celibately, learning to deflect sexual impulses or framing a life of struggle as an opportunity to grow closer to God.

While the report doesn’t use my exact words (e.g., I don’t say ‘you don’t have to be gay’), she does catch important aspects of the APA report and the stance I use within the sexual identity therapy framework. Furthermore, I don’t show the video at the same time in the same order of things to clients and then they make a decision about their direction. I do however, do extensive informed consent and answer lots of questions which involves videos and slides to answer. Thanks for Michael Bailey for those vids.

This report captures the essence of the novel findings in the APA report in contrast to the AP report which continues to present a polarized picture. For sure, as long as the dialogue around change is important to people, we keep talking past each other. However, when you look at what both sides actually claim, they are not that far apart. According to the AP report, Jones and Yarhouse are going to report over half of 61 subjects either changed or are celibate. Whatever the percentage, it is clear that change cannot be promised to clients as a predictable function of therapy or ministry. We should be able to agree about that and then place emphasis on belief and value congruence. From there, see what happens.

I will have other posts on the media reaction and additional analysis…

  • Evan

    Warren, now that you mentioned the videos… Is it possible to post some of that material?

    APA’s press release made the news all across the global village and right now there are many places where this debate on sexual identity is reopened, so having some of that material available online could inform the debate a lot better than just words.

  • Denver Todd

    I am reading conflicting information. In today’s local paper, it said that the APA believes that change is not possible, and if your SSA is in conflict with your faith, then you should find a new church. I had a hard time with that one.

    On another note, and I am sure I can find more information elsewhere on this website, if change is not promised, and for some the best outcome is celibacy, what exactly does la dolce vida look like for the SSA man?

  • Michael Bussee

    …what exactly does la dolce vida look like for the SSA man?

    Good luck with that one, Denver Todd.

    If by la dolce vida, you mean what sexual options besides celibacy may still be morally acceptable for the SSA-only man? Maybe solo masturbation sometimes. Maybe not. Wet dreams for some.

  • Michael Bussee

    Sorry. Did not be to be flippant about that question. Let me back up.

    What exactly does la dolce vida look like for the SSA man?

    I think the answer would depend on many things. Is the SSA man gay affirming? Or is gay sex something he considers to be sinful and is trying to avoid? I can only answer for the gay affirming side.

  • Michael Bussee

    But if the client still believes that affirming his same-sex attractions would be sinful or destructive to his faith, psychologists can help him construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions, the APA says. That might require living celibately, learning to deflect sexual impulses or framing a life of struggle as an opportunity to grow closer to God.

    Is that really what the APA says? I know how to respect a client’s faith and to affirm his right to self-determination, but I do not know how to “help him construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions”. For that, I would have to refer the client to someone who does.

    I also would not know how to do this if a straight client asked for my help in constructing an identity that rejects the power of straight attractions. Is there training and certification available for therapists who wish to do this SSA rejecting, identity construction work?

  • Michael Bussee

    That might require living celibately, learning to deflect sexual impulses or framing a life of struggle as an opportunity to grow closer to God.

    This seems to be more the job of a pastor, ministry or religious practitioner. Perhaps this last part would be easier if the therapist shared the same religious convictions as the client?

    Let’s suppose that an SSA client wanted to construct and idenity that affirmed his gayness. Should a therapist who believes that same-sex behavior is sinful or unhealthy feel professionally obligated to help the client construct a gay-affirming identity?

    There needs to be a good “fit”. There are times when the most beneficial therapeutic intervention is to refer.

  • Michael Bussee

    One more thing: I thought I should make something very clear: I don’t think a therapist working with such a client (one who “believes that affirming his same-sex attractions would be sinful or destructive to his faith”) should ever:

    (1) Show anything but respect for the client’s religious beliefs and right to self-determination,

    (2) Try to convince such a client that their religious beliefs are wrong or ought to be changed,

    (3) Try to change a client’s personal decision to live celibately,

    (4) Tell the client to accept or give in to sexual impulses the client considers sinful or unhealthy,

    (5) Tell the client that he cannot or should not try to “construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions” — or that he ought to adopt a “gay identity”,

    (6) Counsel a client against “framing a life of struggle as an opportunity to grow closer to God.”

    All of those things would be unethical, in my opinion.

  • Michael Bussee

    According to new APA guidelines, the therapist must make clear that homosexuality doesn’t signal a mental or emotional disorder. The counselor must advise clients that gay men and women can lead happy and healthy lives, and emphasize that there is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation.

    That might be a tall order for a therapist who believes that (1) homosexuality is a mental or emotional disorder, (2) that gay men and women cannot lead happy and healthy lives, or (3) that there is evidence that therapy can change sexual orientation.

    Would NARTHian therapists be able to meet these APA guildelines?

  • Michael Bussee

    Sorry. Don’t mean to be dominating this one, but this has really sparked my thinking:

    But if the client still believes that affirming his same-sex attractions would be sinful or destructive to his faith, psychologists can help him construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions, the APA says. That might require living celibately, learning to deflect sexual impulses or framing a life of struggle as an opportunity to grow closer to God.

    I would like to read what the APA actually said. I think the really important phrase here is “can help him…”.

    Warren, am I supposing correctly that the APA is saying that the therapist may do these things? That it does not mean that the therapist must — or is professionally obligated to?

  • Michael Bussee

    Answered my own question. I read the report in its entirety. Here are some of its conclusions:

    The APA recommends that psychologists acknowledge the importance of religion and spirituality as forms of meaning-making, tradition, culture, identity, community, and diversity.

    Psychologists do not discriminate against individualsbased on those factors. Further, when devising interventions and conducting research, psychologists consider the importance of religious beliefs and cultural values and, where appropriate, consider religiously and culturally sensitive techniques and approaches.

    It says the therapist should respect these things and take them into account with clients who experience distress or conflict between their religious beliefs and their sexuality. It does not say they must — or are obligated to —

    help him construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions…or one that requires living celibately, learning to deflect sexual impulses or framing a life of struggle as an opportunity to grow closer to God.

  • Jayhuck

    Denver,

    In today’s local paper, it said that the APA believes that change is not possible, and if your SSA is in conflict with your faith, then you should find a new church. I had a hard time with that one.

    That is not what the APA said. My understanding was that for those gay people who have a problem with their religious faith and their sexuality, some may be helped by helping them find faith communities that are accepting – NOT that all those who have this problem should be directed to other faith communities.

  • Jayhuck

    Warren,

    I’m fairly certain I asked you this before, but I was wondering today about kids who come out of the closet but who have Evangelical parents. Can those parents force kids into therapy? I’ve read a couple of stories lately, and I have no idea how true they are, that a couple of Evangelical parents are withholding financial help to their kids who have come out. I’m curious how SIT would handle this issue. If the kid is happy with his sexuality but the parents are unhappy – how would you deal with that situation? I’ve also heard worse stories regarding parents and how they manipulate their child into therapy or force them to go to Ex-Gay groups. This issue has bothered me for a long time.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    But if the client still believes that affirming his same-sex attractions would be sinful or destructive to his faith, psychologists can help him construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions, the APA says. That might require living celibately, learning to deflect sexual impulses or framing a life of struggle as an opportunity to grow closer to God.

    The very last part of this analysis is approaching what may happen through spiritual struggles of any kind. In my life, I have been privileged (yes, I meant to use that word) to see this process at work in two ways — first, through the “dark night of the soul” known as major depression, and ultimately, through the SSA struggle. Yes, both were hell. But they were gifts, too — opportunities to, indeed, grow closer to God. I fought that path for some time, but ultimately decided to follow it. I eventually felt I had no where to go but upward. I am sure this describes the process for many individuals. So it makes sense that the APA would have to finally address it.

    I also must comment briefly on the first part of the above quote: “But if the client still believes that affirming his same-sex attractions would be sinful or destructive to his faith, psychologists can help him construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions.”

    I am wondering how many psychologists (it is presumed the statement is referencing those with faith underpinnings themselves) are in a position to guide a patient through what really is the domain of the spiritual in constructing this rejecting identity. Because, it is not only what one rejects but what one replaces the rejected with that is going to make the difference. How would a therapist counsel a client in this kind of situation?

    Warren, I know you and Mark Yarhouse must have some thoughts on this.

    I have one other question for you, Warren. I believe you mentioned in a comment or post a while back something about the makeup of the APA’s task force. I have seen some NARTH statements already that reject the report and speak out against the politically correct composition of the panel. Could you tell us what you think of those who formed this report, in terms of their loyalties? You had a key role in writing a letter previously to APA about this, did you not?

    I am feverishly working to prepare for a vacation, so I have not yet read the entire report. I will.

  • Denver Todd

    Society, or maybe just the APA, views religion as a commodity, which can be traded at will. My take on what I read locally was that if your SSA is in conflict with your faith, then you can trade in your religion for another one, or at least go to a different church. If this is a valid argument, then we would all be switching churches on a weekly basis, right around the moment of the church service we call “confession.” Well, I have said this before, that in the public areana, in the war between faith and SSA, SSA will always win out. Has anyone seen the documentary Campout?

    Arguing the finer points of the APA’s positions on SSA therapy is beyond me. My ending question in my OP was basically on how a celibate Protestant SSA man who wants to live true to his faith, can live a full, authentic life, and what that looks like. In my own struggles, it has been moderately easy to deal with the behavior, but monumentally difficult to replace it with something fulfilling within the church. My question had nothing to do with sex-replacements.

  • concerned

    Debbie,

    I have had a similar experience in coming to understand the writings of John of the Cross and “the dark night of the soul”. The major problem as I have come to understand it is that the New Age Philosophy has convinced us the struggle is always bad, life should be easy, and if it is not then someone else is doing something to you to make it that way. This in fact is the farthest thing from the truth. We only learn that we can handle struggle by going through it, difficult as if may be at times.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Yes. Thanks, Concerned.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Society, or maybe just the APA, views religion as a commodity, which can be traded at will. My take on what I read locally was that if your SSA is in conflict with your faith, then you can trade in your religion for another one, or at least go to a different church.

    The pieces that I have read of the report, Denver, lead me to believe the APA has tried to go somewhat deeper than that, although what you mentioned is there. There are limitations because of the varying worldviews represented among them, both those on the task force and the overall membership. And there is the ever-present problem of people reading their biases into both the report and the press coverage, which is and will be varied, as well.

  • Michael Bussee

    I am wondering how many psychologists (it is presumed the statement is referencing those with faith underpinnings themselves) are in a position to guide a patient through what really is the domain of the spiritual in constructing this rejecting identity. Because, it is not only what one rejects but what one replaces the rejected with that is going to make the difference. How would a therapist counsel a client in this kind of situation?

    Debbie: I was wondering the very same thing. I agree that a therapist can and should respect a client’s religious beliefs and the client’s right to self determination — but should we expect a therapist to do what is really “the domain of the spiritual”?

  • Jayhuck

    I have seen some NARTH statements already that reject the report and speak out against the politically correct composition of the panel.

    LOL – I’m shocked and appalled that NARTH would speak out against this report – Really! ;) :)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Michael – No, we cannot expect a therapist to do something he/she cannot do. The report also speaks favorably about support groups and believe it or not if the local Exodus support group does not shame people for being gay, a therapist could ethically refer a client to such a group.

  • Jayhuck

    Debbie and Michael,

    but should we expect a therapist to do what is really “the domain of the spiritual”

    I apologize for butting in. My opinion has always been that these sorts of struggles are best dealt with by clergy. Clergy are the people you go to when you are struggling with things spiritual. That’s their purpose. But there are counselors that base their practice primarily around their faith and not science, so they act like clergy in many ways – I suppose these counselors would be helpful in such a process.

  • Jayhuck

    Warren,

    The report also speaks favorably about support groups and believe it or not if the local Exodus support group does not shame people for being gay, a therapist could ethically refer a client to such a group.

    Could a therapist ethically do that with an Exodus group, when Exodus still aspires to change gay people straight? Aren’t there some Exodus groups and/or Exodus-affiliated groups that perform touch therapy too? It seems like you’d have to know a great deal about that particular Exodus group before you could simply refer a client there.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Warren:

    The report also speaks favorably about support groups and believe it or not if the local Exodus support group does not shame people for being gay, a therapist could ethically refer a client to such a group.

    I, presonally, could not ethically refer a client to EXODUS (by way of a recommendation) because of EXODUS’s association with NARTH, and for other reasons that I have mentioned here too many times.

    I have promised not to go into that stuff anymore because I don’t want to be accused of EXODUS bashing. My opinions are well known. Ethically, a therapist would need to know the local EXODUS affiliate very well to make such a referral.

  • Michael Bussee

    According to new APA guidelines, the therapist must make clear that homosexuality doesn’t signal a mental or emotional disorder. The counselor must advise clients that gay men and women can lead happy and healthy lives, and emphasize that there is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation.

    Warren, wouldn’t this also imply that the referring therapist has an ehtical responsibility to point out that the local EXODUS affiliate might not agree that:

    (1) homosexuality doesn’t signal a mental or emotional disorder,

    (2) that gay men and women can lead happy and healthy lives and

    (3) there is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation?

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Michael – No, we cannot expect a therapist to do something he/she cannot do. The report also speaks favorably about support groups and believe it or not if the local Exodus support group does not shame people for being gay, a therapist could ethically refer a client to such a group.

    Thanks for mentioning that, Warren. We do get some referrals from local therapists to our groups. And yes, I agree that the therapists should have a good idea of what those groups espouse before referring. Shaming people? Perish the thought! A hellish strategy.

    I know Jayhuck is really concerned about Exodus and its affiliates pushing reorientation in such ministry groups, but I think those concerns are overstated. I’m not saying some groups couldn’t be doing it wrong.

    The latest edition of the AACC’s Christian Counseling Connection newsletter has a good article about the small group process, FYI. Its author says — and I fully agree — such groups ought to be administered by a licensed counselor/therapist. Larger churches are in a better position to afford to hire these staffers and cover their programs with liability insurance. The AACC has training and certification programs that can help.

    I could see smaller churches grouping themselves together within a community and utilizing a reputable licensed clinician who would train and provide ongoing supervision to group facilitators as a side “job.” The churches could share the expense. I don’t know how workable this is. Thinking out loud. Pastoral counseling is still an option where pastors have that expertise. They are going to be referring out to local therapists in many cases, just as therapists will refer in to church-based groups in others.

  • Jayhuck

    Michael and Debbie,

    Ethically, a therapist would need to know the local EXODUS affiliate very well to make such a referral.

    Absolutely – especially with groups like Exodus who have less than stellar track records. Exodus has been known for distorting research and telling lies about homosexuality, all of the things that the APA has stood up against in this recent paper.

    Since homosexuality is a normal, healthy and positive aspect of human sexuality and because of the following APA resultions:

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association concludes that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation;

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association encourages mental health professionals to avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts by promoting or promising change in sexual orientation when providing assistance to individuals distressed by their own or others’ sexual orientation;

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association concludes that the benefits reported by participants in sexual orientation change efforts can be gained through approaches that do not attempt to change sexual orientation;

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association opposes the distortion and selective use of scientific data about homosexuality by individuals and organizations seeking to influence public policy and public opinion and will take a leadership role in responding to such distortions;

    Those operating from religious/spiritual traditions are encouraged to recognize that it is outside their role and expertise to adjudicate empirical scientific issues in psychology, while also recognizing they can appropriately speak to theological implications of psychological science

    – All therapists would do well to be very careful about referring anyone to any group without knowing a good deal about that group.

    Personally, I’m very happy that the APA made it clear that those people who are gay have the right to know the TRUTH about what science says regarding homosexuality.

  • Michael Bussee

    All therapists would do well to be very careful about referring anyone to any group without knowing a good deal about that group.

    I completely agree here, Jayhuck. And by the way, I would exercise the SAME caution in referring to any group, practitioner or therapist for any clinical issue, not just sexuality.

  • Jayhuck

    Ooops – sorry – I meant to say those people are are gay AND are struggling with their sexuality.

  • Jayhuck

    That makes good sense Michael!

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Exodus has been known for distorting research and telling lies about homosexuality, all of the things that the APA has stood up against in this recent paper.

    I’ll let you preface your little APA PR moonlighting gig with that statement, Jayhuck, as long as you are being intellectually honest about the shortcomings of the APA, too. If you can’t go there, don’t give a one-sided rant. You only leave this blog open for rants of the other kind, and you don’t want those, do you?

  • Jayhuck

    Debbie,

    We all have shortcomings – we are all human. HOWEVER, the APA is interested in studying science. I often compare this discussion to the Science vs Creationism debate, which really isn’t a debate all. All evidence suggests that Evolution is a fact. People of faith however do not have to BELIEVE this if they do not want to. Some people of faith have gone out of their way to create something that looks like science but which a vast majority of scientists and recently the courts said is not science.

    Its not a direct parallel, but I see similar things happening here. I think they APA has done a wonderful job of trying to make sure that Science and what it says regarding sexuality is upheld while also making room for people to seek out help that aligns more closely with their personal, individual, religious beliefs – whatever those may be.

  • Jayhuck

    Debbie,

    I have yet to see the APA make the kinds of distortions and outright lies than many so-called religious groups have done in the name of furthering their agendas, especially when it comes to making public policy. The AFA, NARTH, Exodus, Focus on the FAmily, etc all have SHAMEFUL track records in this area and the APA is finally standing up to them and saying look, religion is not science and we are going to take you to task if you keep making these kinds of misleading statements.

  • concerned

    Jayhuck,

    I would carry the idea that a therapists should know exactly the kind of group they are sending their client to to include pro-gay/gay pride groups that are only interested in condemning religious organizations as being the sole source of all that is wrong with the world. I would hope that a therapist would direct someone who has a strong faith to steered clear of such organizations.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    People of faith however do not have to BELIEVE this if they do not want to.

    Yes, I know what you mean. I chose not to accept my shrink’s pronouncement that I had a 50-50 chance (most docs would have said it was greater, given my history) of relapsing into major depressive episodes after 10 years of intermittent illness and five of medication. “So, how did that work out for you, Debbie?” Great. That was 1993, and I’ve had nary an episode of depression since. I was healed. I know science is prone to dismissing spontaneous healings as inexplicable, but doctors know full well they happen. My family has known a good share of miracles, in fact. Guess we were fortunate enough to be on the right evolutionary track.

    Is no longer experiencing SSA also a miracle? Is there a connection between my two experiences. What do you think? I think we need psych docs for the real mental illnesses and the secular population that knows no other way. But somebody also needs to be ready to take the mental health guild to the woodshed when they get on their high horses, too. APA is not above that. Ask Nick Cummings.

    The religious and secular (or skeptical) schools of “help” are peopled with those who tend to speak different languages and have vastly different worldviews. That’s the problem here. “A failure to communicate.” You and I obviously see it very differently, Jayhuck.

  • Jayhuck

    Concerned –

    There are plenty of pro-gay/gay-affirming groups that do not consider religious organizations to be the source of all that is wrong with the world. In fact, there are many gay-affirming religious organizations.

  • Michael Bussee

    I would carry the idea that a therapists should know exactly the kind of group they are sending their client to to include pro-gay/gay pride groups that are only interested in condemning religious organizations as being the sole source of all that is wrong with the world.

    You might this hard to believe, Concerned, but so would I! For a good therapy referral? Compliance with APA guidelines. Good science. Truth in advertizing. Informed consent. Respect for the client’s religious and cultural diversity.

    Out of respect for a client’s religious faith, I would never refer a client to any organization or therapist who would “condemn religious organizations as being the sole source of all that is wrong with the world.”

    Clearly, that would not respect the importance of the client’s faith or afffirm the value that faith can play in living a meaningful life. Clearly, that would violate the APA standards. Clearly, that would be unethical.

  • concerned

    Jayhuck,

    I do not doubt that, but my point is that it would be important for a therapist to know this before sending someone, which is the same reasoning as you seem to be using against Exodus affiliates. Sure there may be some that are not a good fit for some people, however, they may be a perfect fit for others. Because you have an anti-conservative Christian bias you do not feel anyone should go to groups that encourage traditional religious values. Seems to me that is the same bias the APA has.

  • Jayhuck

    Debbie,

    I separate science from religion. They both have their limitations and its not unimportant to discuss or realize what those are. I think if we were to draw a Venn diagram we would see some overlap but not much. They are two different ways of looking at the world. The are not mutually exclusive for me, but they are for some.

    I can’t speak to your individual experience – I don’t know you, and what you call a “miracle” could be the result of any sort of process. There are so many variables involved. We don’t know. I’m sure you have your own beliefs on the matter and I wouldn’t even attempt to try and debate them with you.

    Science says homosexuality is a normal aspect of human sexuality – It also says that Evolution occurs. What some religious individuals choose to do with these pieces of information is up to them.

    I used to work in Oncology. I saw cancer go into remission often – among believers and non-believers alike. Some saw it as a miracle but would attribute that “miracle” to God, or science or both. Everyone’s opinion about the matter was different and each saw it in a different way.

  • Jayhuck

    Concerned,

    That is not what I am saying. Please re-read what I posted.

  • Jayhuck

    Concerned,

    The APA is concerned with how groups are using Science, not with how groups view religion.

  • Jayhuck

    Concerned,

    It would also depend a great deal on the individual and why they are being referred.

  • concerned

    Jayhuck,

    And that is too bad. Both Science and Religion play a very important role in our lives, whether it is positive or negative for some. By only focusing on one aspect I think the APA has missed the mark. I would have to say that this report is showing some signs of an opening up on their part that may lead to more opening of their minds is the future, otherwise I think we are all being short changed.

  • Michael Bussee

    Concerned: I know this was directed to Jayhuck, but hope you won’t mind if I respond:

    I do not doubt that, but my point is that it would be important for a therapist to know this before sending someone, which is the same reasoning as you seem to be using against Exodus affiliates.

    Speaking only for myself, I would not use an EXODUS affiliate as a therapy referral, unless I was pretty certain that it complied with APA guidelines, including the professional and ethical responsibility of a therapist to inform the client that:

    (1) Homosexuality doesn’t signal a mental or emotional disorder, (2) that gay men and women can lead happy and healthy lives and (3) that there is insufficient scientific evidence that therapy can change sexual orientation.

    If I knew the EXODUS affiliate well — and knew that they followed these APA guidelines and informed the clients? No problem. Do you know of any EXODUS affiliates that do this?

    Sure there may be some that are not a good fit for some people, however, they may be a perfect fit for others.

    I completely agree. There needs to be a “fit” — not “one size fits all”. I have told clients that there are religiously-based organizations that endeavor to help their members renounce homosexual behavior and adopt a non-gay indentity — but I have provided this for information only — not as an endorsement or as formal therapy referrals.

    Because you have an anti-conservative Christian bias you do not feel anyone should go to groups that encourage traditional religious values.

    I can’t speak for Jayhuck but I do not have “an anti-conservative Christian bias”. Theologically, I see myself as a conservative Christian. And apart from the gay issue, my religious values are pretty traditional.

    I routinely ask the client if they have a church affiliation or religious belief system that is important to them. Such affililations and beliefs can be very important to a client’s mental health — as the APA points out. And I never try to change their minds about it — even if I hold a different religious view.

  • Eddy

    Science says homosexuality is a normal aspect of human sexuality – It also says that Evolution occurs.

    LOL. That’s the trouble with science. So used to ‘knowing everything’ that when they come to an area where they really don’t KNOW (i.e. can’t PROVE…but very strongly believe), science can’t seem to say ‘it seems that homosexuality is a normal aspect of human sexuality.’ They say that something ‘is’ so…and then soon, they believe it…and eventually they forget that it’s only a theory not a proven fact.

  • Michael Bussee

    They say that something ‘is’ so…and then soon, they believe it…and eventually they forget that it’s only a theory not a proven fact

    Excellent point, Eddy:

    That’s the trouble with science…They say that something ‘is’ so…and then soon, they believe it…and eventually they forget that it’s only a theory not a proven fact.

    But, it’s not really “the trouble with science” — it’s a common problem of bad science. (Religion does this sometimes, too.)

    This is an error of reasoning known as “Reification of the Contruct” — asserting theory or belief as fact.

    From Wikipedia:

    Reification often takes place when natural or social processes are misunderstood and/or simplified; for example when human creations are described as “facts of nature, results of cosmic laws, or manifestations of divine will”.

  • Michael Bussee

    Sorry, that’s “reification of the construct..” Here’s the reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypostatization

  • Jayhuck

    Eddy,

    The problem with a scientific theory as opposed to the layman’s understanding of the word theory, is that it really is all but a proven fact. I think we’ve been down this road before. ALL existing evidence points toward Evolution.

    Evolution is a fact AND a theory – to understand this better I’ll just refer people here:

    Theory and Fact

  • Mary

    Science also says that extreme anger, hatred, bias is normal. All things we pretty much have agreed we try to overcome. Just because something is natural and it feels good does not mean that every human must partake of the belief that if it is natural and feels good it must be good.

    LOL!!!!

  • Jayhuck

    Reification of the construct – Interesting – I had not heard of that before!

  • Jayhuck

    Mary,

    I’m not sure they say those things are “normal” Mary, but they definitely don’t say they are positive and healthy.

    I think we are talking about more than just what is natural and feels good here – the APA is looking at a great body of evidence and stating that it is a fact gay people can live healthy, happy, satisfying lives – besides, you seem to be delving into theology and philosophy here, talking about what is moral and immoral, and those are not things science can deal with – they belong to other disciplines to help us define.

  • Jayhuck

    Michael,

    I don’t mind at all – besides, I think you did a better job of addressing that issue with Concerned than I would have anyway ;)

  • Jayhuck

    Mary,

    To be clear – I don’t think we can equate NATURAL with NORMAL! I’m fairly certain most scientists do not do that.

  • Mary

    Jayhuck,

    I am not refuting that gay people can live happy, healthy lives.

    Perhaps you should read the 130 page response before taking apart what I just wrote.

  • Jayhuck

    Mary,

    I am not trying to take apart what you wrote, I’m merely stating that comments like this one:

    Just because something is natural and it feels good does not mean that every human must partake of the belief that if it is natural and feels good it must be good.

    Cannot be addressed by science. Science cannot and will not say that if it is natural and feels good it must be good – OR bad. Issues like this can only be dealt with by philosophy and theology.

  • Michael Bussee

    Science also says that extreme anger, hatred, bias is normal.

    I don’t think science makes this assertion. Common? Maybe. Good? Maybe not. I know I said I would try not to squabble over words, but like other emotionally chagred words, “normal” has many possible meanings. Here are a few:

    1. usual: conforming to the usual standard, type, or custom — I don’t think science says “extreme anger, hatred or bias” are the standard or usual behavior of humans.

    2. healthy: physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy — I don’t know any branch of science that teaches tthat “extreme anger, hatred or bias” is healthy in any way.

    3. occurring naturally: maintained or occurring in a natural state — I guess this one might fit. These things certainly do seem to occur in nature…

    One other common meaning for “normal” would be along the lines of “what the large majority (on a bell curve) of humans do. For example, “normal” to get angry sometimes. Normal to have hateful thoughts or even bias. “Normal” to have two legs — or to be OSA.

    But as you very rightly pointed out:

    Just because something is natural and it feels good does not mean that every human must partake of the belief that if it is natural and feels good it must be good.

    You are right. Normal does not necessarily equal Moral. We should not confuse the two.

  • Jayhuck

    Mary,

    FYI – I’m still making my way through the APA analysis, but everything I’ve read so far has been wonderful.

    What I am really enjoying is the fact that both sides of this issue seem to be fairly happy with the result. Both sides see positive aspects to it. I cannot remember a time when this happened with something the APA released. I see it as a good thing

  • Jayhuck

    Mary,

    I agree with you on this point as well – It is a quote from Michael but I believe it is your idea:

    You are right. Normal does not necessarily equal Moral. We should not confuse the two.

  • Michael Bussee

    I’m still making my way through the APA analysis, but everything I’ve read so far has been wonderful.

    I read it last night and I agree with you, Jayhuck. Respect for scientific evidence and respect for personal faith. I thought it struck a very nice balance.

  • carole

    There is no such entity as “science” as far as what “it” does or does not say. (Consider one subcategory of “science” for example-, climatologists and the lack of consensus among them about man’s contribution to the phenonmenon.)

    There are instead, professional organizations. Having belonged to three of them all my career (the National Education Association, the California Teachers’ Association and my local chapter)and having been involved in their inner workings, I am aware of how they work. This isn’t a criticism of them or of the APA, simply a reminder that sometimes because they are working with what they have and because what they have isn’t much, professional organizations make pronouncements that turn out to be untrue.

    This happens in education all the time. After all, the social sciences are very inexact. The other reason it happens is for political reasons, and I use the term “poltical” in both its very generic sense and in its more specific sense.

    All it means is that absent hard proof and evidence of anything (whether a kid really has ADHD, whether there actually exists is a brain disturbance or function that causes ADD or ADHD, what causes dyslexia, whether one method/strategy of tinstruction works better for those who “have it”, etc.) professional organizations, being the political bodies they are, tend to render certain statements that one has to remember are subject to change over time.

    When it comes to this subject, I am sure you all remember that at one time homosexuals were deemed deviants. They were said to be mentally ill. That changed. Thankfully people grew more enlightened.

    Nevertheless, it’s probably a very good idea to realize that as the studies progress over time, there will be new wordings, new positions, most likely very subtly worded as new information becomes available. That’s just the way of things.

    I have already seen such stepping lightly in Bailey’s gentle attempt to be both gentle, yet scientifically and academically honest in his use of the word “environment.” (ie Warren’s last post about Bailey and twin studies). Obviously Bailey is aware that the term “environment” is misunderstood by both sides and he recognizes that neither “side” (for those who feel they belong to a side) will like what the scientist means by it.

  • carole

    Another correction–left out a phrase

    I said,

    (Consider one subcategory of “science” for example-, climatologists and the lack of consensus among them about man’s contribution to the phenonmenon.)

    By phenomenon, I was referring to global warming.

  • Mary

    Jayhuck,

    Yes it is a good thing and instead of being definitive it keeps the door open for more exploration.

  • Jayhuck

    Carole,

    I was speaking of science as a discipline as opposed to those of philosophy or theology. Science does have a method, and it does operate in a very specific way, and professional organizations have nothing to do with what *I* was talking about – if you were speaking about someone else’s posts please forgive me.

    There is science first, THEN professional organizations that develop AROUND that discipline.

  • Jayhuck

    Carole,

    Its normal among scientists to quibble with the details. Its not that Evolution isn’t happening, the arguments tend to be around exactly how. And its not that Global Warming isn’t happening, OR that human’s aren’t contributing to it, the arguments tend to be around how much humans are contributing to it.

  • Jayhuck

    Pardon me – I misspoke – I meant to say that professional organizations don’t have anything to do with what I was talking about in that particular instance ;)

  • Jayhuck

    Carole,

    There actually is a consensus among scientists that global warming is being driven to a large extent by human activity – that doesn’t mean all scientists agree but there is most definitely a consensus.

  • Eddy

    As is typical in the ‘discussion’ here, I posted a very brief comment, used homosexuality as my one and only example, and Jayhuck rebutted using evolution as his. No wonder we continue to miss each other! Kinda makes me wonder if he couldn’t really make the claims about homosexuality that he could about evolution.

    So, Jayhuck, are you saying that it’s both a scientific Fact and a Theory that homosexuality is normal? Are you saying that it’s perfectly acceptable for them to say ‘is normal’ rather than ‘seems to be normal’?

  • Jayhuck

    Eddy,

    If all evidence points to it being a normal variation of human sexuality, and that hypothesis has withstood the test of time and alternate theories and evidence, then it is perfectly acceptable in my book for them to state that it is normal.

  • Eddy

    So are you saying that

    1) it has withstood the ‘test of time’

    2) it has withstood alternate theories

    3) it has withstood evidence (or alternate evidence)

    and therefore it IS perfectly acceptable to state that it IS normal rather than ‘it SEEMS TO BE normal? Is that what you are saying?

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy and Jayhuck, hope you don’t mind if I jump in.

    So, Jayhuck, are you saying that it’s both a scientific Fact and a Theory that homosexuality is normal?

    Depends on what you mean my “normal”. If you mean fairly common or occuring in nature, I think it is safe to say that is is a fact that homosexuality is normal — in that sense only.

    Of course, Normal is not the same thing as Moral or Healthy.

  • Jayhuck

    Yes – that would have been the next issue to address – defining “normal” – Everything I said above is just my personal opinion Eddy. If you have an issue with how something is defined, its best to take it up with that particular group that made the definition in the first place, don’t you.

    Yes Michael – its definitely correct to say that Normal is not the same thing as Moral or healthy – but again, that’s a philosophical argument.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    We’ll have to let Jayhuck define ‘normal’ as he used it in this quote:

    Science says homosexuality is a normal aspect of human sexuality – It also says that Evolution occurs. What some religious individuals choose to do with these pieces of information is up to them.

    And then answer the question.

    LOL….I don’t mean to be snarky but with all the wrangling over ex-gays and their use of that ‘misleading and confusing word change‘, I’m slightly bemused that we seem to be having trouble with the meaning of the word ‘normal’. Sounds like, just like that troubling and confusing word ‘change’ , people need to explain what they mean when they use the word ‘normal’.

  • Michael Bussee

    In the social sciences, we tend to think of something as “normal” if it falls inside the expected, typical range of human behavior. Normal to to feel deep sadness at the loss of a loved one. Not normal to cut one’s hand off as an expression of grief. Normal to feel angry when someone hurts your feelings. Not normal to open fire at the post office.

  • Jayhuck

    I was just quoting the APA Eddy – its not my definition l ;) And I’m not the one who has a problem with it!

  • Jayhuck

    Sigh – I meant to say, I THINK its best…..

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy: I agree. We probably do need to explain what we mean by normal. It is one of those emotionally charged words that can have multiple and conflicting layers of meaning, depending on the speaker.

    For some “normal” means “what God intended”, so homosexuality would not be normal. For others, it might mean “common in nature, therefore morally OK”. That isn’t how I use it.

    When I say that homosexuality is “normal”, I only mean that it occurs in nature with considerable frequency, that it is fairly common across the human spectrum, not a very unusal thing — and nothing more.

    I will leave the evolution question alone.

  • Denver Todd

    Just a note that in these discussions, it would be good to settle on correct terminology. Narth his not Exodus. Exodus is not the member ministries that belong to it. Those groups are all over the map in terms of their mission statements. On one end, a ministry might say they want to turn people straight. On the other end, a ministry might encourage their clients only to seek God’s best for their sexuality and relationships, whatever that might be.

    I should add here that if the church were functioning properly, we wouldn’t need parachurch ministry. I’d go further to say that in order to make the church function properly, we should get rid of parachurch ministry first, but maybe that is a post for another day.

  • Jayhuck

    Michael and Eddy,

    I think that’s true for just about any aspect of science. Words that are used in this discipline often aren’t used in the same way by those outside the discipline – We’ve already had a few examples.

  • Michael Bussee

    The way I read the report, the study does not make conclusions about whether or not homosexuality is ‘normal” — in the sense of being morally OK — just that it falls within the expected, typical range of human sexuality, is not necessarily unhealthy — and that gays and lesbians can lead healthy lives.

    The study acknowledges that for some, homosexuality is in deep conflict with their values and identity — and that, in such a case, the therapist has an ethical responsibilty to respect the value of of the client’s religion and of personal choice.

  • Eddy

    Sorry, Jayhuck, you did NOT express it as your personal opinion. You said “Science says homosexuality is a normal aspect of sexuality.”

    And the statement is your interpretation of what you’ve read or heard, so it’s from you that I should be able to get the elaboration on what they meant by ‘normal’. Certainly if you demand further clarification on the meaning of ‘change’ when you hear it, you’d also want clarification on a multi-meaning word like ‘normal’. I’m assuming that you got that from the context(s) you’re reporting from.

    Much of the debate that transpires here centers around words and concepts like ‘natural’, ‘normal’, etc. but the two extremes who commonly discuss here define those words differently. Before this conversation proceeds, I believe it’s necessary to the conversation to gain an understanding of the term ‘normal’ as you have used and are using it.

    So, when you heard or read that ‘science says homosexuality is a normal aspect of sexuality’, what was your understanding of the term ‘normal’?

    With that understanding of the term ‘normal’, is it acceptable to say ‘IS a normal aspect of sexuality’ rather than ‘SEEMS TO BE a normal aspect of sexuality’?

  • Jayhuck

    Yeah – its not a wonder that there is so often so much confusion.

  • Michael Bussee

    Narth hs not Exodus. Exodus is not the member ministries that belong to it

    I am not sure what you mean by this DenverTodd. Could you clarify what you mean?

  • Michael Bussee

    I would urge each of us, if we have not already done so, to read the entire APA report before making statements about it. Have we all done this?

  • Jayhuck

    Eddy,

    We’re talking past each other again – I gave you my personal opinion of what I would think would need to meet the criteria for science to say something is normal and not just SEEMS normal – THAT was your question,

    The quote I gave is from the APA – Michael’s definition is an excellent one – one I would agree with.

    YOU however have always taken issue with the APA’s term of normal – not just here and not just now and not because of what I’ve said – yet you, to the best of my knowledge, have NEVER sought out from that body a reason WHY they use that word or HOW they are using it with respect to sexuality.

    If you want a working definition – for the time being, and without the help of someone in the APA who can tell us differently, Michael’s definition is excellent.

  • Jayhuck

    Michael,

    I’m working on it – close to being finished!

  • Mary

    Eddy,

    Why do you bother? He twists and misreads just about everything.

  • Jayhuck

    Michael and Eddy,

    The use of the word normal can be found in the abstract of the paper:

    The American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation

    conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts

    (SOCE) and concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some

    risk of harm, contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates. Even though the research and clinical

    literature demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and

    positive variations of human sexuality, regardless of sexual orientation identity, the task force concluded that

    the population that undergoes SOCE tends to have strongly conservative religious views that lead them to seek

    to change their sexual orientation. Thus, the appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for

    those who seek SOCE involves therapist acceptance, support, and understanding of clients and the facilitation of

    clients’ active coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, without imposing a specific sexual

    orientation identity outcome.

  • Eddy

    Jayhuck–

    Yeah – its not a wonder that there is so often so much confusion.

    LOL. But if we’d extend each other the courtesy of answering questions intended to clarify the meanings of the words we use, maybe we wouldn’t continue to stumble on in the confusion.

    Michael–

    Not sure about your question to Denver Todd. Isn’t he simply stating the obvious:

    NARTH is NOT Exodus. Neither is Exodus NARTH. One is an organization of psychologists and therapists; the other is a collection of ministires.

    Exodus is ‘an umbrella organization’. It is composed of affiliate agencies, referral agencies, a referral church network. As Denver said quite clearly, there is tremendous diversity in therapeutic and ministry approach within the individual ministries.

    Denver’s point seemed to be that we should stop talking in generalities without respecting these differences. Don’t say “NARTH” when you really mean Exodus; don’t say “Exodus” when you really mean NARTH. Don’t speak of ‘the Exodus therapy’ or of ‘the Exodus therapy goal’ because therapy (singular) is incorrect. A number of therapies exist within the Exodus affiliates; some individual agencies actually subscribe to several therapy methods and goals. If we’re going to have ongoing, respectful and productive conversation, we need to start speaking more precisely…especially when attempting to criticize or assess the merits of a group.

    I’ll agree not to post again until I’ve read the entire document…provided you also get that agreement from the bulk of the commenters. (This may mean I’m out of this conversation. Got some stuff going on, off and on, all through the weekend.)

  • Jayhuck

    Eddy,

    But if we’d extend each other the courtesy of answering questions intended to clarify the meanings of the words we use, maybe we wouldn’t continue to stumble on in the confusion.

    That is something I can get behind :)

  • Jayhuck

    Eddy,

    I should probably thank you too. Because I rarely take issue with the APA or its official statements, I don’t always think too hard about the terms they use – as opposed to someone who might disagree with said statements. This was a good exercise for me and a good reminder that it is important to understand how a word is being used, especially when engaging in a discussion/debate where that term is bound to be used a great deal.

  • Michael Bussee

    I read that with interest, too, Jayhuck. The task force concluded that

    the research and clinical iterature demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, regardless of sexual orientation identity.

    This is what the Task Force members concluded, after reviewing extensive research and clinical literature. (This list of references goes on page after page.)

    We may diagree with the Task Force that it’s a “normal and positive variation of human sexuality”, but I doubt that any of of has conducted such an extensive study.

    Of course, the Task Force members may have all had a pro-gay bias — or the folks who conducted the original research and piblished the clinical literaure may have.

    Or, maybe reputable scientists, researchers and clinicians who believe that homosexuality is “abnormal and negative” didn’t get a fair shake. I suppose that is possible.

  • Eddy

    Jayhuck–

    YOU however have always taken issue with the APA’s term of normal – not just here and not just now and not because of what I’ve said – yet you, to the best of my knowledge, have NEVER sought out from that body a reason WHY they use that word or HOW they are using it with respect to sexuality.

    I honestly do not recall EVER debating or discussing the use of the term ‘normal’. Yet, you claim that I’ve always taken issue with the term. Since it’s something you claim I’ve always done, it should be easy for you to provide a few examples of my taking issue with the term.

    Anyway, if the issue of the term itself never really came up before then going to them about WHY or HOW they are using it wouldn’t have been an issue.

    I’ll look forward to seeing those examples.

  • Jayhuck

    Michael,

    I agree that’s possible – In my opinion it doesn’t seem likely :)

    Yes – the list of references is extensive, and from my POV, impressive.

  • Jayhuck

    Eddy,

    We’ve had this discussion on numerous occasions – I’m surprised you don’t remember them ;)

    Like you I have a great deal going on this weekend, including tonight – at some point perhaps I will start digging around and looking for those examples if it will make you happy.

  • Michael Bussee

    Darn! NARTH beat me to it! Seems like all of the Task Force Members were pro-gay! (I suspected as much.) Nasty activisists! Should throw out the whole report, I guess. From the NARTH Press Release:

    In fact, one can make the case that every member of the task force can be classified as an activist.

    So the APA report may be just another example of the gay agenda. What about the Task Force’s recommendation that the

    …”appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for those who seek SOCE involves therapist acceptance, support, and understanding of clients and the facilitation of clients’ active coping, social support, and identity exploration and development..”

    Should probably disregard that too. Probably just more activist bias.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Eddy:

    Don’t say “NARTH” when you really mean Exodus; don’t say “Exodus” when you really mean NARTH. Don’t speak of ‘the Exodus therapy’ or of ‘the Exodus therapy goal’ because therapy (singular) is incorrect

    OK. I promise I won’t. They are closely affiliated, but not the same. I know there are various therapy approaches in addition to EXODUS — and that EXODUS affiliates may vary widely in their philospohies, goals and approaches. Very loose knit.

    I really don’t know what to call the over-arching approach of either (1) attempting to change sexual orientation and/or (2) helping a client to adopt a non-gay idenity. Can you suggest one?

    Some approaches seem to be #1. Some seem to be #2. And some seem to be some combination of both. Is there a more general name for those approaches that we might not call “pro-gay” or “gay affirming”?

  • Eddy

    We’ve had this discussion on numerous occasions – I’m surprised you don’t remember them

    Jayhuck, unless you can produce documentation that we’ve discussed the term ‘normal’ on numerous occasions, I’ll deem this as a follow up LIE to the first one. Do not treat it lightly. I’ve been consistent and dogged in my fight against miscommunications. I view what you said to me and about me as a LIE…an untruth. Your use of caps in your response to me when you wondered why I never followed up with the APA what they meant by the word ‘normal’ was an attempt to reduce my credibility in the eyes of those who read this blog. So, it’s not merely me wanting examples…I’m demanding them. I feel you’ve lied to me and about me.

    Please note: My questions and complaints went to the definition of the term. Your rebuttal also went specifically to the term and the insinuation that I have protested that they did not define it and wondering why, since that was my beef, I didn’t ask them to define it.

    I will expect examples or a public apology. If you can actually provide examples that we’ve discussed APA’s definitions of the term ‘normal’, you will likely be very pleased with my response to that revelation.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    You asked:

    I really don’t know what to call the over-arching approach of either (1) attempting to change sexual orientation and/or (2) helping a client to adopt a non-gay idenity. Can you suggest one?

    I’ll give that some thought. But, I’d like you to answer this first. Why does this over-arching approach require a handy/dandy label?

  • Michael Bussee

    I’ll give that some thought. But, I’d like you to answer this first. Why does this over-arching approach require a handy/dandy label?

    I guess it doesn’t require one. I was just trying to think of an simpler way to refer to those kinds of therapeutic approaches, ministries or programs that had to do with either orientation change, identity change or both.

    We tend to use “gay affirming” for those approaches that don’t focus on either of these things, but rather help clients who are seeking to accept or integrate their SSA as a positive, normal or healthy part of themselves.

  • Jayhuck

    Or perhaps I should – but I’m guessing the time has passed for that – oh well, knowing you it will present itself again :)

  • Jayhuck

    Eddy,

    LOL – That you want me to spend hours researching the archives of this blog for a conversation that I’m SURE you must remember on some level is telling – LOL – that you are as dramatic, as you tend to be , in asking me for a public apology, is even more telling :) You are always so very concerned about those who read this blog and how their opinion of you – I think they only need to read some of your posts – they will know -rest assured ;)

  • Jayhuck

    My apologies – I meant to say AND their opinion of you and your posts….

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Please return the comments to the topic of the post. Note to commenters, please ignore off topic comments thereby depriving them of life.

  • Eddy

    LOL.

    Accusations of my being dramatic and confrontational from the guy who just posted six times in a row in less than a half hour’s time…I’ll live with that. But lies and untruth, I take that a bit more seriously and I do confront it. It shouldn’t take you hours to dig up the examples I request since it’s something you say I’ve ‘always’ done.

    YOU however have always taken issue with the APA’s term of normal – not just here and not just now and not because of what I’ve said –

    C’mon Jayhuck, you were pretty dang emphatic–one might even say dramatic and confrontational–with the ‘not just here and not just now and not because of what I’ve said’. It sounds like there ought to be oodles of examples.

    What I expect is what

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Do you people ever sleep? This all-consuming passion is a bit unhealthy, don’t you think? I have my share of passion about the issues, since I’ve walked through the fires like many of you have. But I can’t live in it 24/7. Am I just imagining it or is there a dysfunction represented here in real relationships and real life? The kind of connectedness that comes via a computer screen is just not as healthy as real-life relationship.

    Warren, I see this is a real cause for concern — more than just a mere distraction for some. It is the unfortunate downside of blogomania. Maybe that ought to be a new disorder in the DSM. Shouldn’t you be intervening a bit more and earlier in some of these threads?

    Just concerned, that’s all.

  • Eddy

    Debbie–

    As for me, I sleep plenty and have lots of other stuff going on in a day. And most of it does not involve the computer. In between blog comments, I may have family contact (in person or phone), a breakfast or lunch outing, a few hours at poolside with the family, karaoke practice and outings, a few cocktails at the local VFW, weeding and watering, chats with neighbors, bike rides, hiking, picture taking, domestic chores…almost forgot ‘garage saling’…where I’m headed right now. Computer-wise, I feel more guilty about the time I spend playing Scramble on Facebook. (A state budget impasse has me twiddling my thumbs waiting to get back to work full-time.

    I can’t speak for everyone but, for me at least, it only seems like this blogsite rules my life.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Thanks, Eddy. That’s reassuring. I hope I am over-reacting. LOL. That could be MY dysfunction.

  • Jayhuck

    Debbie,

    I have to agree with Eddy here – I think it only appears that this blog is an all-consuming passion :) The time I spend here varies a great deal, as you’ve probably noticed – although for some people (and I’m not just talking about this blog), the time some people spend online can become a problem of sorts and I’m not certain that the DSM is silent on this issue –

    I spend a good deal of time with my niece, 4 nephews and two godsons, my parents my siblings and my friends – I’ve been blessed with some amazing ones. I also have a new job in home health/hospice that is challenging me.

    BUT – back to the topic of the post! Thanks Warren :) Um – wish I had something new to add but I don’t at this time.

  • Jayhuck

    According to the AP report, Jones and Yarhouse are going to report over half of 61 subjects either changed or are celibate. Whatever the percentage, it is clear that change cannot be promised to clients as a predictable function of therapy or ministry. We should be able to agree about that and then place emphasis on belief and value congruence. From there, see what happens.

    Change can not only not be promised, it should also be made clear it is unlikely. I haven’t seen the J&Y report yet, but the sample size seems incredibly low, and despite claims of change, it yet remains to be seen whether that change actually stands the test of time – obviously for some it doesn’t. – and I’m not sure how the test itself could reliably measure harm OR change since it only covers a six-year period – BUT I’m sure we will learn more about it and have time to praise/criticize it when it is released.

  • Jayhuck

    I personally find Judith Glassgold’s (the task force chair) comments very comforting – this is taken from the Associated Press article by David Crary:

    “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.”

    In dealing with gay clients from conservative faiths, says the report, therapists should be “very cautious” about suggesting treatments aimed at altering their same-sex attractions.

    “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,” the report says.

    “We have to challenge people to be creative,” said Glassgold.

    She suggested that devout clients could focus on overarching aspects of religion such as hope and forgiveness in order to transcend negative beliefs about homosexuality, and either remain part of their original faith within its limits — for example, by embracing celibacy — or find a faith that welcomes gays.

    “There’s no evidence to say that change therapies work, but these vulnerable people are tempted to try them, and when they don’t work, they feel doubly terrified,” Glassgold said. “You should be honest with people and say, ‘This is not likely to change your sexual orientation, but we can help explore what options you have.’”

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Thanks, Jayhuck. Glad you have a life, too. :)

    As for the quotes from Glassgold, I think they are generous and provide hope for productive work in the future, from a therapy standpoint. I try to consider the source — its strengths and limitations — in everything I read. We do need to ask both sides to consider the bigger picture of what each is and isn’t, what each can do and can’t. As for what each should and shouldn’t attempt, that is the somewhat gray area still.

    I would also like to see a statement that is a bit more positive than this one:

    ‘This is not likely to change your sexual orientation, but we can help explore what options you have.’”

    Might it not also be fair to say, “I don’t know if it is possible for you to change your orientation, and I want to make that clear. It may be possible because some appear to have done so, but I cannot promise it. Let’s work with what is more possible to change — understanding your self-worth, exploring what you are unhappy with — and see where it goes. If at some point you feel you would like to also try a faith-based support group, I will try to recommend one.”

  • Jayhuck

    Debbie,

    Personally I think its more honest to stick with the task force’s recommendations and state it is unlikely one will change their orientation, because that is what the evidence suggests. Giving a client hope of change when it is not likely to happen is not honest or professional in my opinion – or in the end, good for the client really. The rest of what you said though sounds good – I also like Warren’s suggestion on this issue:

    Whatever the percentage, it is clear that change cannot be promised to clients as a predictable function of therapy or ministry. We should be able to agree about that and then place emphasis on belief and value congruence. From there, see what happens.

  • Jayhuck

    I think a great deal of the harm some clients experience exists due to the false hope of change engendered by some groups.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I think a great deal of the harm some clients experience exists due to the false hope of change engendered by some groups.

    I am clearly in agreement with being cautious and realistic, while not stamping out hope altogether — however that looks in real-life therapy. Realizing that, for the person of faith, that may intersect at some point with a ministry approach, I am more willing to keep hope in the equation.

    I also cannot throw my own experience out the window. Likewise, I would never impose it on others as a likely outcome. Remember, I am one of those who is in the trenches with real people who want to move beyond same-sex attraction. It is not ethereal theory for me. Faith in a very real God is a very real part of healing.

  • Mary

    I think it is the stigma that exists for the individual who wants to maintain his place in the church and within his family and community and when change does not happen to the degree and false expectation- all people in his support circle feel let down. It would be nice if those in the conservative church were more educated on the process of change, what change means, how individualized change is and that change does not happen in one year, two years or five years but is a long process that is not always linear.

  • Jayhuck

    Debbie,

    For those clients for whom this is an issue hope of change should definitely be kept alive, but not hope of change in orientation.

  • Jayhuck

    Debbie,

    Moving beyond SSA for most of these clients is going to mean living a celibate life – that’s the fact of the matter now and its a truth that they need to be made aware of. Its not a bad thing necessarily -

  • Mary

    Jayhuck,

    I certainly am glad you’re not in my support circle.

    Debbie,

    I right here with you, sister! If I listened to all the naysayers, I’d be in a dismal state. Keeping an open mind as to the origins of sexual development and maintaining a vigilance to find what is true and resonates for me has helped tremendously. Everyone is different.

  • Michael Bussee

    I think this is pretty good, Debbie: Let’s take it piece by piece.

    “I don’t know if it is possible for you to change your orientation, and I want to make that clear. It may be possible because some appear to have done so, but I cannot promise it.”

    I don’t know about saying, “…some people appear to have done so“. It might be more accurate to say:

    “A small number of people, particularly females with SSA, report that they have done so. Males with exclusive SSA are far less likely to report a change in orientation. The vast majority report ongoing SSA to some degree or another and very few report a complete change to OSA only.”

    Or Jayhuck’s:

    It is unlikely one will change their orientation, because that is what the evidence suggests.

    Or Warren’s:

    Whatever the percentage, it is clear that change cannot be promised to clients as a predictable function of therapy or ministry.

    Let’s work with what is more possible to change — understanding your self-worth, exploring what you are unhappy with — and see where it goes.

    I kinda like that, perhaps adding Warren’s: “…place emphasis on belief and value congruence. From there, see what happens.”

    And finally, the problem of referral — “If at some point you feel you would like to also try a faith-based support group, I will try to recommend one.”

    Ah! There’s the rub. I don’t know of one I could recommend. I guess I could only recommend one I knew well, that fit with the APA guidelines, that was not affiliated with NARTH or EXODUS and that made it clear that congruence, not reorientation, was its goal. Do you know of any? Maybe Wendy Gritter’s ministry…

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Ah! There’s the rub. I don’t know of one I could recommend. I guess I could only recommend one I knew well, that fit with the APA guidelines, that was not affiliated with NARTH or EXODUS and that made it clear that congruence, not reorientation, was its goal. Do you know of any? Maybe Wendy Gritter’s ministry…

    Locally, there is an Exodus ministry that I have referred to. They seem to follow the congruence model and provide good social support. Exodus ministries are not all alike so it is a good practice to check them out.

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren: First, let me make it clear that during my post-EXODUS years, I have had very few, maybe one or two, SSA clients who were seeking orientation or identity change.

    They were already aware of and had made contact with EXODUS — and were discouraged that their SSA was not changing. They asked for gay-affirming, faith-based referrals, which I made.

    have also worked with many gay clients who were not in conflict regarding their sexuality. These guys were gay-affirming and were coming to counseling for other issues.

    I have mainly worked with straight people who had other, non-gay-related, issues: parenting, depression, grief, addiction, stress,etc. So, I have not really had the need to try to find such a referral.

  • Michael Bussee

    Hey. Maybe we are reaching a concensus of sorts, at least here on this blog. And at least on the question of whether or not orientation change should be promised, promoted or expected as a likely outcome of participation in therapy or “change programs”.

    From Warren:

    Whatever the percentage, it is clear that change cannot be promised to clients as a predictable function of therapy or ministry. We should be able to agree about that and then place emphasis on belief and value congruence.

    From Debbie:

    “I don’t know if it is possible for you to change your orientation, and I want to make that clear. It may be possible because some appear to have done so, but I cannot promise it.”

    Even Eddy and I seem to agree that congruence and identity issues might be a more appropirate goal than orientation change.

    Jayhuck likes Warren’s statement. Are we getting close to something here?

  • Michael Bussee

    The statements we are making also seem to be consistent with the APA report.

    In dealing with gay clients from conservative faiths, says the report, therapists should be “very cautious” about suggesting treatments aimed at altering their same-sex attractions

    .

    “Practitioners can assist clients through therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development

  • Michael Bussee

    Even the head of EXODUS seems to be on the same wave-length:

    Chambers says the book marks a departure from the ambiguity of the “change is possible” message and details what kind of change is possible for someone struggling with unwanted homosexual feelings.

    Found this on Alan’s website. It is good that he acknowledges that the “change is possible” message has been ambigous. Keep in mind that Alan is the one who said that ex-gay is “more confusing than anything” and “does not really describe what the change process is all about”.

    I am eager to read his book to understand what sort of change he feels is possible. If he can help clear up the ambiguity, he will have done us all a great service.

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    I’m coming late to this discussion as I was away most of last week without time to join in. Guess I do have another life outside this blog. LOL

    Michael B, you wrote “A small number of people, particularly females with SSA, report that they have done so. Males with exclusive SSA are far less likely to report a change in orientation. The vast majority report ongoing SSA to some degree or another and very few report a complete change to OSA only.”

    Is that a quote from one of the folk on the thread or from the APA report itself? I haven’t had time to read the whole thing, yet.

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    Mary, thanks for this statement … “It would be nice if those in the conservative church were more educated on the process of change, what change means, how individualized change is and that change does not happen in one year, two years or five years but is a long process that is not always linear.”

    I totally agree and much of my local church workshop is spent trying to get church leadership to understand this. Two anecdotal experiences come to mind.

    A couple years ago, I spoke at a small African-American pentecostal church. We were all on the same page in our belief about homosexual behavior being sinful, and they did a fairly adequate job of understanding that orientation and behavior aren’t the same thing, though it was somewhat of a stretch for them. But when I got to the part that discussed change and transformation as a process, I thought they were going to ask me to leave. Their faith and theology was “deliverance” based, and the pastor told me if anyone continued to experience same-sex attraction after being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, he or she wasn’t really a Christian.

    I wasn’t invited back.

    The other experience involved my predecessor, Jim Gentile. (His testimony is public knowledge and available on my website.) Shortly after my gay-affimring worldview shifted, I invited him to Delaware to do a mini-conference introducing Transforming Congregations to the local pastors. In covering the event, our local newspaper interviewed both him and some of the gay activists in our local beach area.

    One of the gay men disputed the possibility of “change” because it had not happened for him. He reported how he had tried very hard for one summer and when he didn’t notice any difference, he concluded God was happy with him as he was. Jim’s account that followed led off with a description of the decade it took for him to be happy and content in his marriage. I don’t know if the reporter intended for the contrast to be so telling, but I’m glad he wrote it that way.

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    Just my two cents again about the earlier science debate:

    Hard science – Definition

    Any of the natural or physical sciences wherein facts or truths are derived from empirical investigations or experiments based on scientific method. In contrast to soft science, hard science relies on quantifiable or empirical data based on scientific method. It focuses on accuracy and objectivity.

    Soft science – Definition

    Any of the specialized disciplines based on qualitative analysis or scientific investigations for which strictly measurable criteria may be difficult to establish.

    In contrast to hard science, soft science interprets human behavior, institutions, and society. Also, it depends upon conjecture, qualitative analysis of data, or uncertain experimental results. It includes psychology, sociology, anthropology, and political science.

    Notice the predominant words in the definition of soft science – qualitative, interprets, conjecture, uncertain.

    I agree with Eddy, the APA should have used “seems” and a whole lot of other qualifiers in expressing its views.

  • Michael Bussee

    “A small number of people, particularly females with SSA, report that they have done so. Males with exclusive SSA are far less likely to report a change in orientation. The vast majority report ongoing SSA to some degree or another and very few report a complete change to OSA only.”

    Karen, it’s my quote, based on everything I have read, everyone I have talked to and my own personal experience with hundreds of gays, ex-gays and ex-ex-gays over the past 30 years.

    But when I got to the part that discussed change and transformation as a process, I thought they were going to ask me to leave. Their faith and theology was “deliverance” based, and the pastor told me if anyone continued to experience same-sex attraction after being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, he or she wasn’t really a Christian.

    A pastor said that ongoing “temptation” means you are not really a Christian? What Bible is he reading? It does happen, huh? — “not really saved, not really filled, etc”.

    Your story reminds me of one when Jim Kaspar and I were giving our testimonies. We had several people walk out at one church where we were asked to speak.

    One man shouted, “This topic should not even be mentioned in God’s house!!!” before he stormed out. It was a delieverance-based church as well. The “process of change” idea went over like poop in a punchbowl.

  • Michael Bussee

    For the LA Times on the Task Force Report:

    “Unfortunately, much of the research … contains serious design flaws,” said psychologist Judith M. Glassgold of Rutgers University, who chaired the committee. “Few studies could be considered methodologically sound and none systematically evaluated potential harms” from the conversion efforts, she said. Potential harms include depression and suicide attempts.

    “Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose,” she said. “At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted, or its long-term mental health effects.”

    Yeah? What does she know? As NARTH points out, everyone on the committee is an activist and therefore can’t be trusted. They obviously did not review NARTH’s “scientifically riguorous” studies.

  • Michael Bussee

    And I’ll betcha they didn’t even take into account Paul Cameron’s “rigorously scientific” work, which NARTH still cites on its rigorously scientific website.

    Now, why did EXODUS say that EXODUS would no longer cite Cameron’s work?

    Wait, it’ll come to me…

  • Michael Bussee

    They obviously did not review NARTH’s “scientifically riguorous” studies.

    I take it back. They did review a couple of Nicolosi’s rigorously scientific works. Nothing by Cameron, though. Darn activists.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    From Debbie:

    “I don’t know if it is possible for you to change your orientation, and I want to make that clear. It may be possible because some appear to have done so, but I cannot promise it.”

    Just want to make it clear, Michael and everyone, that I am speaking in terms of what I think is reasonable for the therapist, as far as I can even identify with one. The therapeutic approach to many problems, and not just SSA, is not necessarily going to line up with the Christian discipling approach that we would see within the ministry small group.

    Some who comment here have a hard time separating Exodus and NARTH in ideology or espoused process. As has already been pointed in this or one of the other related threads (by Eddy, as I recall), there is a definite distinction needing to be made. Exodus refers people to counselors who are licensed clinicians as well as to church-based small groups.

    What is the APA’s relationship with biblically based Christian counselors? How much pull do they have? How much weight will anything the task force recommends carry with them?

    What kind of counselors do the people who are looking for congruence with their faith seek out? Do the ones who are growing weary of struggling and want permission to go to the gay side seek out more middle-of-the-road or gay-affirming therapists?

    Isn’t it natural to expect that I will see a different kind of struggler than many therapists will? How will the APA’s recommendations apply to me? I already understand that you don’t push anybody toward reorientation. Who at the APA or on that task force really understands the faith-based approach, however? How many are so hung up on change harm that they can’t see the forest for the trees?

  • Mary

    hey Debbie – get my e-mail from Warren. Want to respond but not in public,

  • Michael Bussee

    What is the APA’s relationship with biblically based Christian counselors? How much pull do they have? How much weight will anything the task force recommends carry with them?

    I would suspect very little. The APA relates to licensed psychologists, not to biblically based counselors, pastors or support groups — who may or may not have any formal psychological education, clinical experience or license.

    What kind of counselors do the people who are looking for congruence with their faith seek out?

    I would suspect that would depend in large part on whether or not they view all gay behavior as sin. For gay Christians, for example, there are therapists, counselors and support groups that are both faith-based and gay affirming..

    On the other hand, if the client wanted a referral to someone who agreed with their belief that gayness was sin — and who could help them in their efforts to avoid gay sex and build a non-gay identity — then I suspect they would seek out an EXODUS-type counselor or group — or seek a referral that was congruent with their biblical beliefs. Isn’t that one of the purposes of EXODUS? To be a loose-knit coalition of such folk — and to offer such referrals?

    Do the ones who are growing weary of struggling and want permission to go to the gay side seek out more middle-of-the-road or gay-affirming therapists?

    You phrase this in a very interesting way, Debbie – “those who grow eary of struggling and want permission to go to the gay side…” I don’t think the two or three clients who were disappointed that they were not “changing” from gay to straight “wanted permission” from anyone.

    They had had already decided they were still SSA and they were seeking another way to intigrate sexuality and spirituality, not my “permission”. In any event, “permission” is not mine, or any therpists, to “give”.

    Isn’t it natural to expect that I will see a different kind of struggler than many therapists will?

    Yes, very natural. I would suspect that folks who come to change ministries or EXODUS-type programs would do that on purpose — because they specifically wanted someone to help them avoid gay sex and develop a non-gay identity. If they had wanted a “more middle-of-the-road or gay-affirming therapist”, they most likely would have gone to one.

    How will the APA’s recommendations apply to me?

    I would suspect that is for you to decide. I would hope that any counselor would look at the scientific evidence, be informed by it — and not “over-promise” what change might reasonably take place.

    Perhaps that APA guidelines don’t really apply. Perhaps EXODUS-type agencies, Biblical counselors, pastors and faith-based, change-oriented programs should come up with their own standards guidelines.

    Might be a good idea.

  • Michael Bussee

    Perhaps EXODUS-type agencies, Biblical counselors, pastors and faith-based, change-oriented programs should come up with their own standards and guidelines.

    Warren’s SIT Guidelines might be a good start.

  • Mary

    Although my counselor is associated with the APA. She is a christian. She’s experienced, educated and teaches. She’s been very ethical. I specifically did not want a “pastoral” counselor.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Debbie:

    Some who comment here have a hard time separating Exodus and NARTH in ideology or espoused process. As has already been pointed in this or one of the other related threads (by Eddy, as I recall), there is a definite distinction needing to be made.

    As one might suspect, gay activists are probably mostly to blame for that confusion. But perhaps that is due, at least in small part, to the very close relationship between the two groups.

    Has EXODUS made a definite distinction that it does not necessarily agree with NARTH’s ideology and espoused processes? Is the “definite distincton” our job — or theirs?

    In the early days of EXODUS, we already saw some serious problems with NARTH — and we made a definite effort to avoid afilliation with them, so that there would not be this sort of confusion. I so wish it had remained that way…

    Same thing with political affiliations. I think EXODUS was best when it was independent and neutral on such matters — although I need to repeat that EXODUS has every right to do whatever it believes God is calling it to do.

  • Eddy

    What is the APA’s relationship with biblically based Christian counselors? How much pull do they have? How much weight will anything the task force recommends carry with them?

    I would suspect very little. The APA relates to licensed psychologists, not to biblically based counselors, pastors or support groups — who may or may not have any formal psychological education, clinical experience or license.

    Forgive me…I haven’t done the required reading yet and am so tired from a very fun day at the pool with 8 year old twins (boy/girl) but I did have enough energy to read some comments.

    The question and answer above, along with our own recurring issue of blending NARTH and Exodus together, makes me wonder to what extent the APA even considered Exodus and it’s affiliates in its studies? I believe Michael is correct in stating that the ‘APA relates to licensed psychologists, not to biblically based counselors, pastors or support groups’. If they don’t relate to them, I’m guessing they didn’t include them in their studies either. Would that be a likely assumption?

  • Michael Bussee

    To Mary:

    Although my counselor is associated with the APA. She is a christian. She’s experienced, educated and teaches. She’s been very ethical. I specifically did not want a “pastoral” counselor

    I did not mean to imply that APA members were not Christians — or that Christian counselors were necessarily un-trained, un-educated or un-ethical. Actually, I have met Christian — and non-Christian — counselors who were all of these.

    I am glad you found a qualified professional who met your needs. There needs to be the right “fit” for therapy to be effective.

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy, You asked, …

    “to what extent the APA even considered Exodus and it’s affiliates in its studies

    ? The list of references seems to include at least one EXODUS-related group. Let me check and get back to you.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    I don’t believe you meant to do this BUT:

    Both Debbie and I have stressed the need to distinguish Exodus from NARTH and, while you agree that there is a distinction and that we need to be aware of it to further our productive dialogues, your comment only points to how they are alike.

    I liked your earlier comment, the one that I cited in my last post, where you mentioned licensed practioners versus ministers, counselors, pastors, etc. That’s probably the biggest distinction between the two. NARTH is licensed psychologists; Exodus, for the most part, is lay ministers. I’m guessing that most NARTH psychologists would not have an entire caseload of folks dealing with homosexuality whereas Exodus would.

    Karen, if you’re out there, I’m hunching you might be the best equipped to lay out the differences clearly. (Debbie, if you’ve got some insights, don’t be shy!!)

    Michael, I do hope you’ll forgive me for trying to turn this around but, honestly, we’ve been down the path of the evils of Exodus aligning with NARTH many times. Debbie’s point is valid: We really need to be able to separate them in our minds…to clarify what we say and to better interpret what we read. So many read something about NARTH and mentally ascribe it to Exodus and vice versa.

    LOL. Actually, Michael, if you focussed on ‘differences only’ rather than the ‘unholy entanglement’, you might be an excellent choice to point out the differences also.

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy, In the APA Report’s references, I found some mention of “ex-gay” groups. But since thise study was a review of published scientific literature, I doubt that the APA would have taken into account personal testimnoies of ex-gay groups, etc. Perhaps Warren could speak to the mehtodology.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Eddy:

    Debbie and I have stressed the need to distinguish Exodus from NARTH and, while you agree that there is a distinction and that we need to be aware of it to further our productive dialogues, your comment only points to how they are alike.

    I am glad you mentioned this, because I was about to post that I am not sure how they differ in ideology or espoused process. What do you see as the major differences?

    Sorry, just read this:

    NARTH is licensed psychologists; Exodus, for the most part, is lay ministers. I’m guessing that most NARTH psychologists would not have an entire caseload of folks dealing with homosexuality whereas Exodus would.

    Do you other major differences I should note when speaking of the two groups?

  • Michael Bussee

    Just curious. When you type LOL, are you really laughing out loud? Sometimes, I have taken this as sarcasm.

    LOL. Actually, Michael, if you focussed on ‘differences only’ rather than the ‘unholy entanglement’, you might be an excellent choice to point out the differences also.

    Actually, no. I would not be an excellent choice for this. I genuinely have trouble seeing how EXODUS and NARTH differ siginificantly in ideology or espoused proccesses.

    They seem, (and I am deliberately using the word “seem”) to be quite similar in their basic beliefs about the healthiness or morality of homosexuality.

    I really would like to know. As you have pointed out, EXODUS affiliates themselves may vary widely on both of these things, so it is difficult to make any general statement about EXODUS.

    Since EXODUS, its many afilliates and NARTH members probably all vary quite a bit, it might be a daunting task to tease out the simlarities and differences.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Eddy, from the Abstract of the Report:

    The American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE)

    So unless EXODUS and its affiliates have published “peer-reviewed journal literature” of their “sexual orientation change efforts”, the answer to your question would seem to be no.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Eddy: I am re-reading the report. It does mention published studes by:

    Nicolosi, Byrd and Potts of “NARTH and Ex-gay ministry members” (2000),

    Pattison’s study of our (EXIT) subjects (1980), — This is the one where Gary and I were counted as two of the eleven who had changed orientation — LOL,

    Ponticelli’s study of “Ex-gay ministry members” (1999),

    Schaeffer’s, study of “EXODUS conference attendees” (2000) and

    Spitzer’s study of “Ex-gay ministry members” (2003).

    So, yes, the Report did include published studies of Ex-gay, NARTH and EXODUS-affiliated programs.

    The Task Force still concluded, based on their study of the peer-reviewed journal literature on this subject, that:

    Efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve somerisk of harm, contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates.

    They also concluded from the review of the literature that:

    The appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for those who seek SOCE (sexual orientation change efforts) involves therapist acceptance, support, and understanding of clients and the facilitation of clients’ active coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, without imposing a specific sexualorientation identity outcome.

    You really have to read the whole thing — maybe several times.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    hey Debbie – get my e-mail from Warren. Want to respond but not in public,

    Sure, Mary. If Warren is reading, perhaps he will shoot it over to me.

    As a reminder, there are Christian board-certified psychologists/licensed therapists and counselors of all kinds in the field. Even some Christian psychiatrists. I worked for a year with an LCSW who also was an RN, former lesbian, and a Christian for my counseling way back when. The AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors) has a fairly extensive membership, some of whom, I am sure, also are APA members. They also include lay members. And there are other professional mental health organizations.

  • Michael Bussee

    Good points, Debbie. Now-a-days, with the internet and all, it should be easier to find the right counselor or referral. You just need to know where to look — and what questions to ask.

    If you are looking for change-type, faith-based, “non-gay-identity-developing” counselors or programs, ask your pastor or call EXODUS — or any of the resources Debbie mentioned, above.

    But, don’t expect a middle-of-the-road or “gay affirming” organization or counselor to do this type of therapy — any more than you would expect an Ex-gay therapist to help you find happiness being and living gay.

    Say, “Due to my personal values and beliefs, I don’t want to act on my gay feelings or keep a gay identity…Can you help me with that?”

    If they say no, keep looking. Also, I would advise that you keep looking if they promise they can make you straight.

  • Mary

    Michael, Debbie,

    I’m just saying that not all therapists involved in SOCE are quacks or just pastoral with little training in real counseling.

  • Mary

    BTW, my therapist cannot be found through EXODUS or Narth.

  • Michael Bussee

    I’m just saying that not all therapists involved in SOCE are quacks or just pastoral with little training in real counseling.

    Never said they were, Mary. I am glad you found the right one for you and that you are happy now.

    I am also willing to acknowledge that some ex-lesbians — who report that they used to be exclusively SSA — now report that they are exclusively OSA instead.

    That said, I am still waiting to meet one male SSA who makes that claim. And any therapist who promises he can do that is a quack.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    No, I’m not really laughing out loud. I find that when I’m really laughing out loud, then I use ROFL (rolling on floor laughing). But, I do use it to suggest that what I’m about to say or what I’ve just said is amusing to some degree. In my email program (which I don’t think is compatible with my blogging) there is a ‘smiley’ with ‘bared teeth’. I mused this morning that someone was using smiley’s but really intended the bared teeth but please be assured that I do NOT do that. My “LOL” is most often a way of saying ‘here’s something we can all find humor in under the circumstances’. I believe there have been a few exceptions where I used it to indicate sarcastic humor but, in those circumstances, my words immediately following the ‘LOL’ are quite clear and those comments are most often directed to the blog in general rather than to an individual. Ever since kumbaya, I’ve gone the extra mile in speaking plainly and respectfully to you.

    Thanks for all the research. Feeling slightly guilty that I’ve been on a family pleasure day.

    I’m thinking it might be between Karen and I to possible lay out the differences between NARTH and Exodus. (BTW: I just realized today that NARTH gets all caps because each letter represents a word and Exodus does not because it’s just a word.) I’ll give it more thought but I’d like you to consider how you’d differentiate say Lutherans from Catholics. If the pope makes a proclamation, we don’t blame it on the Lutherans or ascribe it to them. Yes, the two religions have many similarities but the differences that they do have are vital enough to warrant viewing them as separate entities and speaking of them as such. That’s the spirit from which I’d hope we could learn to see the vital differences between Exodus and NARTH.

  • Michael Bussee

    I’ll give it more thought but I’d like you to consider how you’d differentiate say Lutherans from Catholics. If the pope makes a proclamation, we don’t blame it on the Lutherans or ascribe it to them.

    Eddy, I consider myself half Catholic and half Protestant, so If I were to do that, I would start first with the similarities — their common points of faith and doctrine. They are both monotheistic. They officially uphold the divinity of Christ, His death for our sins, His physical resurrection from the dead, His second coming, etc.

    They both hold most Scriptures in common. They are both rightly considered “Christian” faiths, etc. From there, I would go on to explain where they might differ.

    So, what do NARTH and Exodus have in common — in terms of basic beliefs about homosexuality, it’s “causes”, the healthiness or morality of it, etc, — and where do they differ? I admit am not an expert on the matter — especially since there are many variations within Exodus itself.

    I am sure that they “have many similarities but the differences that they do have are vital enough to warrant viewing them as separate entities and speaking of them as such.”

    So I am curious. I can see how they seem to be similar, in terms of viewing homosexuality as somehow broken, sinful or disordered and in need of some sort of healing or repair, but what else do they have in common? And what are the major differences, besides the ones you have already mentioned?

    I am not blaming Exodus for the failings of NARTH — or vice versa. I am just dismayed that they keep up the friendly affiliation, particularly when NARTH keeps up its affiliation with “experts” life Berger, Schonewolf and Cameron.

    Like it or not, guilt by association applies here. It simply makes Exodus look worse. We founders saw these same kinds of problems with NARTH when Exodus was still very young — andf that is why we kept NARTH, and all other questionable afffiliations, including poltical ones, away. We did not want to confuse Exodus with any other group.

    BTW, thanks for explaining the LOL. It has always kinda annoyed me. Thought you were scoffing, not just amused. Now I know better. Also, I have always tended to capitalize EXODUS — force of habit. That’s the way we originally printed the name on our literature, newsletters and brochures — all caps.

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    Michael, you’ve almost identical claims on this blog before … “In the early days of EXODUS, we already saw some serious problems with NARTH — and we made a definite effort to avoid afilliation with them, so that there would not be this sort of confusion. I so wish it had remained that way… ”

    NARTH was founded in 1992, shortly after Nicolosi published his first book in 1991. Those dates don’t seem to coincide with “early days of Exodus,” which would have been in the 70s. And I thought you were no longer affiliated with Exodus after a decade or so.

    I’m not trying to entrap you, but it doesn’t make sense to me. if you mean something other than NARTH, I think you ought to clarify.

  • Michael Bussee

    Check it out. They still do it on the main headline of their homepage! All caps. But then “Exodus” in all other articles. I have seen Exodus do it both ways.

    http://www.exodus-international.org/

    They got this wrong, written by Alan Chambers:

    Over thirty years ago, 62 men and women gathered together in Los Angeles, California to network, worship, pray and fellowship with one another based upon their common bond

    of having personally overcome homosexuality.

    It was Anaheim, not LA. And we didn’t really have a “common bond

    of having personally overcome homosexuality”. Quite a number of the 62 had never been gay. Some were students at Melodyland School of Theology and others were straight Hotline volunteers. None of use had yet “overcome” homosexuality — but we were trying.

    That was long ago and Alan was not around then. I can forgive the errors. Heck, EXODUS Global Alliance used to print that Frank Worthen was THE “founder” of Exodus — something I am sure Frank never claimed.

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    Eddy,

    I’m not sure what you’re asking me to do in regard to clarifying the differences between Exodus and NARTH. Could you be more specific?

  • Michael Bussee

    Interesting. EXODUS Global Alliance does the same thing with the CAPS. It is a hangover from EXODUS’s past. http://www.exodusglobalalliance.org/

  • Michael Bussee

    NARTH was founded in 1992, shortly after Nicolosi published his first book in 1991.

    Karen, I may indeed be wrong here. I do remember meeting him while at Melodyland and having numerous conversations with Nicolosi. He asked for Exodus/EXIT to endorse what he was doing. I could have sworn NARTH was around at that time. Perhaps NARTH was not officially organized as NARTH yet..

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    Actaully, it might just be more helpful (not to mention, easier) to let Exodus speak for itself. Here is the “How to Find te Right Counselor for You” page. Bold type is my emphasis.

    How to Find the Right Counselor for You

    For those individuals or family members who struggle with same-sex attraction (SSA) issues, it becomes vital that s/he receive counseling assistance from someone who is experienced in specializing in this complex issue. Research indicates that the number one harm to an ssa client occurs from getting counseling from a well-meaning therapist who does not truly understand (or have sufficient experience) in dealing with ssa issues.

    Exodus has already reviewed and approved professional counselors who are skilled and have lots of experience in providing ssa counseling. All counselors hold at least a Masters degree in a counseling discipline, and are either licensed or certified in counseling. And, you can be assured that all Exodus counselors believe that homosexual behavior being sinful – while not condemning someone over the existence of same-sex attractions.

    The following are some guidelines in helping you find the right counselor for your needs:

    First Choice. Seek an Exodus- approved local counselor, then clicking onto your own state. Advantages: this professional counselor has already been screened and approved by Exodus; you may prefer a counseling setting that provides face-to-face interactions; and the counselor may be aware of other local resources. Disadvantages: there may not be an Exodus-approved counselor within driving distance, or you may not want to be seen at a counseling setting.

    Second Choice. If no Exodus counselor is within your local area, seek an Exodus-approved phone-counselor. Advantages: these professional counselors are accessible regardless of where you live; they are equipped and very comfortable in providing ongoing phone-therapy; and it may provide you more privacy, convenience, and safety. Disadvantages: some people prefer face-to-face interactions.

    Third Choice. If there is no Exodus-approved local counselor near you, and for your own reasons you believe you must have face-to-face interactions, then Exodus suggests as a final resort you consider any of the following three counseling organizations:

    a. National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which can be contacted by calling 1-888-364-9325. This organization has licensed counselors who are experienced in counseling on ssa issues, and provide office counseling. Advantages: these professional counselors are motivated and experienced in counseling on ssa issues. Disadvantages: This is a secular organization, and therefore it is quite possible that the counselor is not a Christian. Additionally, there may not be a NARTH counselor located near you.

    b. Focus on the Family (which can be contacted by calling 1-800-232-6459, then ask for their counseling department), and New Life Ministries (1-800- 639-5433). Both of these international Christian organizations have licensed counselors who believe that homosexual behavior is sinful. Advantages: All of their counselors are licensed and are Christians, and you are quite likely to find one of their approved counselors within your local area. Disadvantages: While these counselors may be willing to take-on clients who have ssa issues, this is not their area of counseling specialty – and therefore they may lack experience in dealing with ssa issues.

    Regardless of whether you seek an Exodus-approved local counselor or phone counselor, or need to settle for a counselor with NARTH, Focus on the Family, or New Life Ministries, here are some topics that you should assertively ask about in initially interviewing a counselor to see if s/he is the right fit for your specific needs:

    Seek a counselor who is a Christian. All professional counselors with Exodus, Focus on the Family, and New Life Ministries are Christian. If contacting a NARTH counselor, simply ask that person directly whether s/he is a Christian.

    It is often best for a male struggler to seek counseling with a male counselor, and a female struggler with a female counselor.

    It is often best to receive counseling from a counselor who has actually experienced and worked-through her/his own same-sex attraction issues. Simply ask the counselor directly whether s/he has dealt with ssa is her/his own life.

    Seek a counselor with at least a Masters degree in counseling (Doctoral degree is even more trained), plus someone who is licensed in counseling (or at least is nationally certified in counseling). All Exodus-approved local counselors and phone-counselors have at least a Masters degree, plus are either licensed or certified [note: you can find each Exodus counselor’s qualifications by going to that counselor’s Exodus website description, then clicking on “Counselor Service Available”]. If seeking a NARTH, Focus on the Family, or New Life Ministries counselor, be sure to find out this information by directly asking the counselor.

    Seek a counselor who has already had significant amount of experience in working with ssa clients of your own gender and age [note: you can learn whether an Exodus counselor provides counseling for your gender and age by going to that counselor’s Exodus website description, then clicking on “Counselor Service Available”]. If seeking a NARTH, Focus on the Family, or New Life Ministries counselor, be sure to find out this information by directly asking the counselor.

    Ask the counselor about her/his perspective on how much change is possible. If your counselor glibly implies you can definitely eliminate all attractions to your same gender, or that you can definitely acquire heteroerotic attractions, then that counselor is too inexperienced and should not be hired.

    Ask the counselor about her/his approach to helping you with your ssa issues. Some counselors emphasize “reparative therapy”, some emphasize “inner healing”, other emphasize “sexual addiction recovery”, some emphasize “sanctification therapy”, etc. Be sure to learn in advance what the counselor will most likely want to emphasize in her/his type of counseling. If a counselor cannot clearly articulate that to you, then that counselor is too inexperienced and should not be hired.

    Ask the counselor: what her/his fees are; how they are paid; whether s/he is willing to charge less fees if you simply cannot afford that rate; whether the counselor will work with your health insurance plan so that you would not have to pay as much “out-of-pocket” expenses; and whether there is a certain minimum number of sessions that are required.

    Finding the right counselor for your unique needs is vital. A little bit of investigation and assertive questions can go a long way toward helping your own healing!

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    Thanks Michael. That helped.

  • Michael Bussee

    I guess I have always thought of NARTH and Nicolosi as one thing. My bad.

    From his resume: In 1980, he founded the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, California, and has served since then as Clinical Director.

    We (Jim, Gary and I) knew of his work and met him (and disliked him) during the late 1970′s. This would have been before he founded the TAPC and before he cofounded NARTH.

    I have been in error to state that NARTH, as an organization, approached us wanting affiliation or endorsement. It was Nicolosi himself — before the foundation of TAPC and NARTH. EXODUS was founded September 1976.

    I sincerely apologize for the confusion. I guess I have wrongly assumed that NARTH has been around longer than it has. I got the time line wrong.

    However, Nicolosi and NARTH still seem to hold the same anti-gay views and espouse the same questionable science that he did back then. That’s where I got confused.

  • Michael Bussee

    Karen, thanks for posting Exodus’s guidelines for selecting a therapist. They seem very complete. I am glad they list NARTH and others as a “final resort”, that they stress the importance of a Master’s level or above and that they make it clear that: all Exodus counselors believe that homosexual behavior being sinful – while not condemning someone over the existence of same-sex attractions.

    And I am especially pleased with this:

    If your counselor glibly implies you can definitely eliminate all attractions to your same gender, or that you can definitely acquire heteroerotic attractions, then that counselor is too inexperienced and should not be hired.

    EXODUS (or Exodus) is to be commended for being this honest about change.

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    Thanks Michael.

    I believe Exodus has made great strides in its approach to counseling since the founding of the counselor’s network. That’s only been within the last five years, I think.

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    And Michael, thanks for the clarification on Nicolosi and NARTH. You must have known him when he was quite young. He’s only a few years older than I am. LOL

    I’ve only heard the man speak once, either at a Love Won Out or an Exodus Conference several years ago. I attended the NARTH conference this past fall because I wanted to hear Mike Rosebush’s presentation on “sanctification coaching.”

    I personally prefer his model to the reparative therapy approach. But I haven’t struggled with unwanted SSA, and I know many folk connected to Exodus who have found reparative therapy very helpful.

  • Jayhuck

    Mary,

    I certainly am glad you’re not in my support circle.

    Ditto!!!

  • Jayhuck

    Karen,

    It should be noted that NARTH, Exodus and Focus on the Family have been chastised, repeatedly, for their mis-interpretation of research data – most often by the authors of the research themselves. I would never refer anyone to any of these groups unless they met the criteria of the APA resolutions.

  • Jayhuck

    Just a question – isn’t Charles Socarides son a gay activist??? I find that, for lack of a better word, fascinating :)

  • Jayhuck

    Warren,

    You state that not all Exodus ministries are alike – which leads me to ask, then how are they affiliated with the group? Do they all operate individually? Do they owe any sort of allegiance to the main group? What sorts of, if any, rules does the main group impose on its affiliates? Exodus is guilty of so many misleading statements and twisting of data, I cannot imagine a psychologist referring anyone to them – BUT, I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with all of the disparate groups! :)

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    NARTH was founded in 1992, shortly after Nicolosi published his first book in 1991. Those dates don’t seem to coincide with “early days of Exodus,” which would have been in the 70s. And I thought you were no longer affiliated with Exodus after a decade or so.

    FWIW, I first heard of Nicolosi in 1992, when my therapist (I was in the middle of my year of working with her) went to Boston to tape some kind of TV program with him.

    God seems to have put the desire in my heart back then (I think the “call” came even earlier in life) to serve in the kind of ministry outreach I do now. I saw a great need, and I did admire my counselor a lot. There was a dearth in resources for women back then. Still is, to some extent. She had me read Leanne Payne’s The Broken Image, parts of which were deeply meaningful.

    I also recently read a most interesting interview that David Virtue did (it’s on the NARTH site, too) with Jeffrey Satinover, in which Satinover talks about meeting Leanne Payne and being quite impressed by what she did. I though that interesting because Satinover is Jewish and calls himself a skeptic in some regards, while still seeing significant meaning in the role of faith and prayer. He says he likes hanging out with people of faith.

    I appreciate Karen sharing the Exodus guidelines for counseling referral. I am sure she and I (along with Alan Chambers, Bob Stith and others) must feel very similarly about wanting to educate and equip churches to minister to the needs of those struggling with homosexuality in their midst. I have longed to see churches and other community resources, including mental health practitioners, united in a common front to bring help to the walking wounded. It’s been the thrust of my ministry for the past decade. It has often felt like pushing a train up a hill.

  • Jayhuck

    Debbie,

    I have longed to see churches and other community resources, including mental health practitioners, united in a common front to bring help to the walking wounded.

    I have longed for the same things :)

  • Jayhuck

    Karen,

    Some counselors emphasize “reparative therapy”, some emphasize “inner healing”, other emphasize “sexual addiction recovery”, some emphasize “sanctification therapy”, etc.

    What do these things mean? Inner healing? Sexual addiction recovery? Sanctification therapy? And, if you know, please tell me what – if anything – sexual addiction has to do with being gay? Obviously sexual addiction is a problem in both the straight and gay population.

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    Hi Jayhuck,

    Before I answer your above questions, I want to reiterate that my ministry is not a typical Exodus support-group type ministry, nor am I licensed to offer therapy. Any work I have done has been in the role of a pastor, and I mostly refer after a few intitial sessions. Also, I don’t know what each and every Exodus member ministry or networked counselor offers by way of services.

    That being said, my understanding of inner healing is that it is a prayer based model and charismatic in approach. Probably around for several decades, it brings counseling issues that arise to the Holy Spirit for healing and transformation. The kind that I experienced a couple decades ago involved a lot of guided imagery. If you’d like more information, google John and Agnes Sanford, who were pioneers in the movement. I thin Leanne Payne would fall into this category as well, but I’m not all that familiar with her work.

    I think you know what sexual addiction recovery is. Exodus in its statement does not imply this applies to all gay people or to only gay people; that is your generalization. Many ex-gays/post-gays acknowledge sexual addiction in their past.

    Sanctification therapy focuses more on congruence of faith and life choices. Mike Rosebush offers a form called sanctification coaching. I’d also roughtly class Dr. Throckmorton’s SIT model and Mark Yarhouse’s work at the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity into this category.

    Please let me know if I can offer any more clarification.

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    Jayhuck,

    Exodus has a set of member ministry and counselor network guidelines for affiliation. They are quite lengthy and would be too long for a full posting. I will try to answer your question about member ministries later this afternoon when I get back from church. For questions about the counselor network, you will need to contact the coordinator, currently Dr. Marc Dillworth.

  • Michael Bussee

    I would never refer anyone to any of these groups unless they met the criteria of the APA resolutions.

    Me either, Jayhuck.

  • concerned

    Karen,

    Sexual addiction is a trap that many men who struggle with SSA get caught in. There are straight identifying men who get caught in SSA sex addiction for various reasons. Sex addiction is definitely a reality for some men with SSA, but I also suspect there are still many addicts out there who do not recognize they are in a destructive addictive cycle. For those that do and go find a support group they find hope and begin to change their lives by surrendering their addictive pattern over to a Higher Power. It is unfortunate that there are still many therapists who do not recognize the reality of sexual addiction.

  • Michael Bussee

    It is unfortunate that there are still many therapists who do not recognize the reality of sexual addiction.

    Concerned: That is unfortunate. A therapist who does not recognize the reality of sexual addiction is not really much of a therapist, in my opinion. I am suprised that you would say that there are “still many” of them.

    Very sad if this is true. They are not well-trained or well-infomed. How did you come to this conclusion? I know many therapists — and not one of them would deny this painful reality.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    I know that Exodus has always seemed to put their name in all-caps. I was stating my POV as an English language ‘purist’ of sorts that all-caps is best reserved for anachronyms. It’s one of those things that are arbitrary similar to capitalizing the first letter of a pronoun referring to God.

    Re Exodus and NARTH. Since my point is that we desperately need to understand that they are not the same, I will ignore the parts of your reply that went to what else do they have in common. The obvious differences are:

    1) They are two distinct and separate organizations. Something spoken or written publicly by one isn’t necessarily the viewpoint of the other.

    2) Their ‘connection’, as I perceive it, is ONLY on the level that they both believe that homosexuality is somehow ‘fallen’ or ‘broken’. I don’t think they would even agree on what term to use to best describe that. NARTH is composed of clinical psychologists; Exodus is composed of ministers.

    3) NARTH membership does include Christians but it is a secular organization and ‘being a Christian’ isn’t a requirement; Exodus affiliates are all Christians.

    4) Since NARTH isn’t composed entirely of Christians, their model and theories for the origins of homosexuality likely differ from those of Exodus.

    5) NARTH does appear to be far more politically motivated’involved than Exodus. I’m not sure that that’s true but that’s partly due to how the distinctions between them have been blurred. It may be nearly impossible to sort through the criticisms and find out what has actually been said and done by Exodus and what has been ascribed to them due to the association with NARTH.

    6) Again, since NARTH is not composed entirely of Christians, their therapies would likely not include a number of the therapies that exist within the Exodus framework. (Karen mentioned some of these therapies specifically; it should be easy to discern which ones are ‘faith based’ or ‘Bible based’ efforts)

    7) Perhaps the biggest distinction is that MOST of the counselors and ministers who work with Exodus have personal experience with, for lack of a better term, ‘homosexual struggle’; NARTH professionals often don’t come with that personal experience–whether that be for the worse or the better.

    I’m sure that this list of differences is not exhaustive. It doesn’t need to be. The point that has been made by myself and others is that the two are not the same and that conversation that blends the two ought to be more careful…ought to be sure that what they ‘know’ actually pertains to both groups before claiming that as fact. Yes, Exodus does bear responsibility for some of the confusion because it did enter into a mutual referral alliance with NARTH….BUT those who continue to speak imprecisely also bear responsibility for maintaining and furthering the confusion.

  • Eddy

    Karen–

    My apologies for dragging you into the discussion on the difference between NARTH and Exodus. I believe that some of the differences have been highlighted in the conversation already. I also sense a very strong resistance to actually seeing those distinctions. For that reason, I don’t really see much sense in taking the time to lay them out.

    Over my morning coffee, I realized that it shouldn’t be my problem if people don’t understand the distinction. I will be able to tell from what they post whether they are informed or are simply speaking of things they actually know little about. Like any informed reader trying their best to approach the discussion with their bias in check, I can more easily spot those who are governed by their personal bias.

    ALL-

    It’s been my pattern on this blog to confront generalizations and misstatements, especially those that apply to areas where I am somewhat informed: ex-gays and Exodus. That pursuit has not been productive and often winds up appearing confrontational. It seems that attempts to address the generalizations and misstatements only lead to more. That’s my impression anyway. For that reason, I’m going to try to ‘just let it go’…to ignore addressing those comments specifically. So, if I’m in the conversation, please don’t interpret the fact that I’ve let something ‘go by’ as validation. I’m sure there will be times when I will feel compelled to challenge and where I’ll opt to follow through on that feeling but, in the spirit of kumbaya, I’m going to try to tone it down considerably. (LOL. Let’s see if I can even make it 48 hours!!!)

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I have longed for the same things :)

    Jayhuck, when enough of us “long” enough to break the inertia of inaction and start doing — I hope, in a unified spirit — we will make a difference. Someone here recently used the Venn diagram illustration. I think that is a good word picture for this process. Many of us have dropped our pebbles in the water and have created a number of ripples that are branching out into concentric or interlocking circles. Only God really knows what the outcome of all we are doing will be. But I sense deep within my spirit that something remarkable may be happening.

    I think we all know that homosexuality and its related issues have become a focal point for this age. There’s just no escaping it. Whether it is gay civil rights, clarifying guidelines and reasonable outcomes for therapy and ministry help, educating the church and greater community on the bigger picture or

    “bridging the gap” — we are in a moment that I believe our sovereign God has brought us to. It’s up to us — those who are appointed from all sides — to make the most of it.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Thank you, Karen and Eddy, for your clarifying remarks about Exodus and NARTH and their general distinctions. I think others will find that most helpful.

    Karen, you have piqued my curiosity about the “sanctification therapy/coaching” approach, especially considering my most recent topic on my own blog. Think I’ll look into it a bit.

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    Debbie, I love this paragraph …

    “I think we all know that homosexuality and its related issues have become a focal point for this age. There’s just no escaping it. Whether it is gay civil rights, clarifying guidelines and reasonable outcomes for therapy and ministry help, educating the church and greater community on the bigger picture or

    “bridging the gap” — we are in a moment that I believe our sovereign God has brought us to. It’s up to us — those who are appointed from all sides — to make the most of it.”

    It points to one of my major frustrations with many conservative evangelicals within The United Methodist Church and some also in the broader Mainline (Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anglican, etc.) One of the predominant messages, whether implicit or explicit, is that issues around homosexuality don’t really matter, or they’re not the real issue, or whatever. It’s like they’re saying, “let’s just get beyond this and get to the important work of the gospel.”

    Part of it, I think, is denominational PC or not wanting folk to dislike you. Part is simply being weary of the attendant church legislative battles of the last 30+ years. But whatever it is, we’ve done an abysmal job of explaining why it’s so crucial, and consequently men and women who want help overcoming unwanted SSA are falling through the cracks.

    I hope I live long enough to see that begin to change.

  • concerned

    Debbie,

    I think you are right about this being the issue of our age and I do not believe that NARTH is wrong in the approach it is taking. It is there for some who want to explore the possibility of change. For many of these it may not lead to fullfillment and they may discover something different about themselves, this does not take away from the importance this organization has provided for others who have found a peace in their live that they could never find in being involved in homosexual behaviour. For that reason alone, all ideas of changing orientation set aside, my feeling is that it is important that NARTH is here to counter the hopelessness that those in the APA seem to want to provide us with.

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    Hi Eddy,

    You don’t have to apologize to me about getting me into the NARTH/Exodus discussion. It’s just that I don’t know very much about NARTH or Nicolosi’s work.

    I’ve also decided to try to adopt your approach in regard to thread interaction. I’m just going to ignore the character assasination (which hasn’t happened too much recently) and some of the generalization. I’ll continue to clarify about Transforming Congregations or Exodus when I know enough to do that.

    But I’m done defending.

    My next post is going to respond to Jayhuck’s questions about Exodus member ministries, and then I’m probably going to hop over to the Yarhouse/Jones thread because I have far more interest in that than in the APA LGBT Task Force report.

  • http://www.transcong.org Karen Booth

    Here is my response to Jayhuck’s questions above about Exodus member ministry methods.

    Member Ministry Standards were drafted in the fall of 2007 and fine-tuned and officially adopted the end of November. Member ministries had input into that process and were expected to approve and adopt the Standards upon renewal of their network affiliation in 2008.

    In general, the standards address expected behavior and accountability of ministry directors, Board or Council oversight of the ministry, whose members are also held accountable for their behavior, working relationship with the Regional Director, annual Freedom Conference participation, and financial administration and accountability.

    More specifically, member ministries are required to describe their services in full to Exodus upon application and in renewal each year. A stringent informed consent process is required, which includes full disclosure of whether or not leaders are professionally licensed. Services information must be clearly communicated in literature, advertising and on consent forms. Criminal background checks are required of all leaders that work with youth and parental consent must be obtained as well. Youth are not permitted to be in mixed support groups along with adults.

    Aversion therapy and any method involving physical contact (other than hugs and laying on of hands in prayer) are prohibited and strong relational boundaries between leaders and group members and among the group itself are encouraged. Other than these restrictions, there are no specific requirements as to what particular method a ministry may employ. The ones I’m most familiar with use a variety of group discussion resources and prayer.

    Member ministries are encouraged to refer folk to professional counselors if the need arises and to connect them with a local church fellowship.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I hope I live long enough to see that begin to change.

    You and I, both, Karen! God is my time keeper, but with whatever I have left, I will fight the good fight.

    And Concerend, I think we need to appreciate ALL the various organizations and individuals who care enough to be seeking a way to help. OK, so there is a divergence of methods out there. Fine. If they are helping some and we are not able to prove conclusively they are harming others, let’s let them do their thing. By all means, we can we watchdogs or guardians or whatever. If we are aware of real harm, we can speak up. That does not give us license to demonize those we disagree with or go on witch hunts or inquisitions. Agreed, all?

    I cannot sit in judgment over others, whether or not I fully understand who they are and what they believe or agree with it. God has had the whole sanctification thing on my mind lately for good reason. I have observed the spiritual and cultural war around us long enough to see that the Church is losing it in so many ways. We are not letting others really see Christ in us.

    How many of us would love to be able to say, like Peter, at the entrance to the temple, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have, I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene — walk!” (Acts 3:6). We’re too preoccupied with the silver and gold, among other things, to do the healing, reconciling work of Christ.

    Forgive me. Another little Sunday sermon. :)

  • Michael Bussee

    To Eddy: Thanks for the clairfication. I will try hard to to speak of them as though they were one and the same.

    Yes, Exodus does bear responsibility for some of the confusion because it did enter into a mutual referral alliance with NARTH….BUT those who continue to speak imprecisely also bear responsibility for maintaining and furthering the confusion.

    I will try to be more precise. I will speak of Exodus as Exodus and NARTH as NARTH. Still wish Exodus would drop the association, as Warren has done. But Exodus must do whatever it feels called by God to do. Exodus has every right to associate with any person or organization it chooses.

  • Michael Bussee

    Sorry, mis-type: It should read: “Thanks for the clarification. I will try hard NOT to speak of them as though they were one and the same.”

    I actually have more problems with NARTH than with Exodus. At least Exodus deleted their references to Cameron, for bad research (without denouncing what Dr. Throckmorton calls his “abhorrent solutions” to the “gay problem”) — something NARTH will not do.

  • Michael Bussee

    OK, so there is a divergence of methods out there. Fine. If they are helping some and we are not able to prove conclusively they are harming others, let’s let them do their thing. By all means, we can we watchdogs or guardians or whatever. If we are aware of real harm, we can speak up. That does not give us license to demonize those we disagree with or go on witch hunts or inquisitions. Agreed, all?

    No, Debbie, I cannot. I do not want a “witchhunt” or “inquisition”. It’s not the “divergence of methods” that bothers me. And I cannot say conclusively that either NARTH or Exodus are harming others. I believe that both organizations may help quite a few folks — and that they harm quite a few others. That’s NOT the main issue for me.

    It is this: NARTH continues to cite as “experts”, folks like Berger (who advised “teasing and ridiculing” “gender variant” children) and Schoenewolf (who suggested that prior to slavery, blacks were little more than “savages” and that they may have been “better off” under slavery).

    Most disturbing of all, is NARTH’s continuing use of Paul Cameron to support NARTH’s work and views. Warren has strongly ciriticized Cameron on this blog.

    He has referred to the man as “evil” and has called Cameron’s “solutions” to the gay issue “abhorrent”. And yet, NARTH still uses his material. I have asked, but they refuse to discontinue this practice.

    Here is more on Cameron: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/Articles/000,020.htm

    To its credit, last year Exodus announced that it had deleted all references to Cameron’s work from the Exodus website — on the basis that his “science” was faulty . I believe they did this largely on the recommendation of Dr. Throckmorton. And it was right that Exodus did so. I commend them for that. But it is not enough.

    Exodus said nothing to denounce Cameron’s nazi-sympathetic views or his “abhorrent solutions”. Exodus said nothing of the things this man stands for.

    By all means, we can we watchdogs or guardians or whatever. If we are aware of real harm, we can speak up.

    Perhaps it is time.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    By all means, we can we watchdogs or guardians or whatever. If we are aware of real harm, we can speak up.

    Perhaps it is time

    .

    Then, you will have to accept those speaking up on the other side, as well, Michael. There are legitimate gripes that traverse the spectrum. When extremists with vendettas like Wayne Besen and others shout divisive, off-base messages, they also need to be called on it. And folks have some legitimate concerns about Kevin Jennings, the NEA and its satellites.

    Besen whipped up the controversy over Berg and Schoenewolf — I remember well when that happened. He specializes in that sort of thing. Not all of what they said in their essays was bad, but I agree they took it too far without realizing there would be whiplash.

    All is fair in love and war. It’s how we do it that matters. That’s what I think we’ve made some progress on (I hope) with these discussions.

    FWIW.

  • Eddy

    A further word about Exodus affiliates. It helps to realize that Exodus doesn’t create the affiliates; it doesn’t say “Gee, we need an outreach in (name your city) and seek to set one up.” Instead, an affiliate is already out there. It’s someone–or perhaps a group of someone’s–that are Christians who believe that homosexual behavior is sin and are concerned with extending the Gospel message to them. That’s basically it. Exodus then created some standards for being a recognized affiliate…the standards that Karen laid out.

    So that would be what all of the affiliates have in common. Their belief, their concern and the standards.

    That’s it. That’s the extent of the Exodus ‘overseer’ role. Other than what’s in those standards, Exodus doesn’t dictate to affiliates what their focus ought to be, what approach to ministry they ought to take, whether they do or don’t get involved in political issues, how they spend their money, how they define or chart success. Exodus doesn’t demand money or support from it’s affiliates. They have regional conferences and an annual one. Attendance isn’t mandatory although I believe there may be a requirement that at least one person from the affiliate appears at least once every few years. Supervision and leadership of the affiliate is left to their own Board of Directors. Exodus does review to ensure that the local board is not a fly-by-night, non-effective board but the supervision is left to the board.

    An affiliate might be as small as one or two people working together to ‘make a difference’ in some way or it could be large enough to have a staff of a dozen or more. The primary goal and focus of the local ministry could be phone counseling, correspondence counseling, one on one counseling, support groups, or any mixture of these methods. Some had live-in programs where others shunned that idea completely. (As Karen noted earlier, the counseling approach might rely heavily on Nicolosi’s reparative model but it might not. From the guidelines Karen posted, it would seem that the major ruled out approaches involve exploitive touch. It should be noted that, from the Exodus web page, exorcism is also ruled out.)

    But the local affiliate doesn’t even have to have a counseling focus. Their primary focus might be evangelism or teaching or educating the local church. We had one woman, although I’m not sure she had official ‘affiliate status’, whose entire ministry focus was intercessory prayer. She tried to keep informed on what was going on in the ministries as a whole and what the major concerns were–also some private ones–and she prayed fervently for them.

    For many years, Exodus leadership, it’s own Board of Directors, did not have a public face. It was nothing more than the ‘umbrella’ at the center where affiliates could find each other and gain access to more resources…in short, it was a central clearinghouse. It’s Board of Directors came from its affiliate agencies and needed to be voted in by other affiliates. This was done to ensure that one ministry or one particular point of view would not dominate. I believe this is still true but it’s possible that it may have been modified slightly to include board members who do not come from within the affiliates but from other organizations or churches. (To my dismay, I believe they now have someone from NARTH on their board. I’m encouraged by the fact, though, that it’s a board…no one voice dominates.)

  • Michael Bussee

    For many years, Exodus leadership, it’s own Board of Directors, did not have a public face. It was nothing more than the ‘umbrella’ at the center where affiliates could find each other and gain access to more resources…in short, it was a central clearinghouse.

    Very well said, Eddy. That was how it was from the very beginning. We had a map of the USA on the EXODUS office wall at Melodyland — and would add pins as we learned of other ministries. Some of these were just individual ex-gays with a printed testimony and a PO Box — not organizations or structured programs.

    Our only criteria for inclusion was the they believed that gay sex was sin and that God could change people. A lot has changed — and remained the same — since then.

  • Jayhuck

    Debbie,

    The problem is – from my POV – that the things Cameron et al have said are far FAR more abhorrent than those things coming out of the mouth of Wayne Besen.

    However – there are plenty of times we have spoken out against certain things Wayne has said on this blog.

  • Jayhuck

    Eddy,

    Thank you for that information re: Exodus affiliates. That is helpful. I suppose the best thing a therapist can do then is simply know a great deal about the group to which they might be referring a client – which, as Michael said much earlier, should be done regardless of the type of group it is anyway.

    As long as the groups don’t step outside the APA resolutions, I suspect it would be fine to refer them.

  • Jayhuck

    Karen,

    I think you know what sexual addiction recovery is. Exodus in its statement does not imply this applies to all gay people or to only gay people; that is your generalization. Many ex-gays/post-gays acknowledge sexual addiction in their past.

    Yes I know this, but the problem many ex-gay ministries have had – at least in the past, even the recent past – is that they state/stated that issues like sexual addiction, drug addiction,alcohol addiction, are problems that stem from one’s orientation – they often wouldn’t seem to separate the two, when they of course they WOULD if the client were straight. THAT is a problem and one that needs to be corrected – if that is already happening in such groups then I applaud them.

    There have been gay clients in the past too that thought if they became straight their issues with things like addiction would go away, and this is patently false – but I feel that some ex-gay groups capitalized on this idea. Reading stories on Beyond Ex Gay, you found that many people who went through some ex-gay therapies did find help for their addictions, but not for their SSA.

    Being gay has nothing to do with various addictions that some client’s may deal with anymore than being straight would.

    I hope that was clear – I was writing very quickly :)

  • Jayhuck

    Debbie,

    I think we all know that homosexuality and its related issues have become a focal point for this age. There’s just no escaping it. Whether it is gay civil rights, clarifying guidelines and reasonable outcomes for therapy and ministry help, educating the church and greater community on the bigger picture or

    “bridging the gap” — we are in a moment that I believe our sovereign God has brought us to. It’s up to us — those who are appointed from all sides — to make the most of it.

    I couldn’t agree more :)

  • Pingback: Sexual identity: Wall Street Journal reports on APA report and sexual identity therapy — Warren Throckmorton


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