The Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: No Naked Therapy?

Last week, NARTH’s Chris Doyle and Julie Hamilton went on the Dr Oz show to defend reparative therapy by portraying it as something other than reparative therapy. This week, NARTH’s representatives carried the makeover a little further in a NBC News article.

There is much I could comment on and may in the future, but in this post I pause to consider an astounding claim is made by David Pickup. Pickup, a one-time supervisee of Nicolosi’s and member of the Mankind Project, claims

“I can say this: I don’t do oranges therapy, and I don’t do naked therapy…”

Pickup is referring to the therapy allegedly practiced by counselors and life coaches at Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (the H used to stand for “homosexuality”). In the complaint brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, former JONAH clients claim that they were asked to remove their clothes for various “interventions” designed to help them bolster their masculinity. There were also some creative uses for oranges in the JONAH program. In his defense against the charge that reparative therapy is all about strange techniques such as described in the JONAH lawsuit, Pickup made his statement about oranges and naked therapy.

Well, I don’t know what Pickup does in his office, but he does recommend a weekend masculinity initiation that involves nudity. For years, Pickup as been a senior staff member for the Mankind Project in Los Angeles as his NARTH 2008 bio makes clear:

David Pickup, M.A., IMF

David H. Pickup holds a Masters Degree in Psychology. He is currently registered with the California Board of Psychology as a Psych Assistant and with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern. David is interning under the supervision of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi at Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, California. His work is centered on young boys who are struggling with Gender Identification Disorder and with adolescents and adult men who are dealing with same-sex attraction. David is a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and is also a Life Coach for men working out of same-sex attraction. He operates The WorkOUT program and website, which includes individual and group coaching for men in Los Angeles and in several different countries. David speaks on Reparative Therapy and its practical applications for churches and men’s groups in the southern California area. He is also a senior staff member of The Mankind Project’s intensive weekend trainings for men in the Los Angeles area. (emphasis added)

The Mankind Project’s signature program is The New Warriors Training Adventure which invites men to get naked during part of the weekend festivities. This is well documented on their own website. They say it is optional but they strongly defend the practice (in addition to the “cock talk” portion of the program where men hold a wooden phallus and talk about their sexual history) as being an important aspect of the program.

Currently, Pickup offers discounts to the New Warriors Training Program to those who sign up for his online reorientation therapy program (only 5.99 a month!). Reparative therapists have for years viewed the New Warriors Training Adventure as being useful for same-sex attracted men because they believe SSA derives from wounded masculinity. Thus, when Pickup recommends the weekend on his reorientation therapy website, he does not simply hope his clients will have a fun weekend in the woods. The purpose is therapeutic.  While he may not be doing the naked therapy, he is recommending it.

For more on the Mankind Project, see this page.

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  • “oranges therapy”???

  • StraightGrandmother

    $5.99 a month???

  • Teresa

    Some of these NARTH therapists seem to actually have more of a SITF outlook.

    “People get the idea that someone comes in and we say, ‘How do you feel about that?’ and then, ‘We’re going to fix that,’” Pruden said. “You really don’t. What you really do is treat them like any other client that is distressed about anything, and you work on distress.”

    “Through talk therapy, he said, some clients say their same-sex attractions are diminished.”

    I really have to agree with Pruden, here. For those of us seeking to align our conservative faith belief with our same sex attractions, I think this is a reasonable goal.

    Here’s what I decry: Nicolosi’s imposition of “let me tell you why you’re gay”. As Warren and others have stated, Nicolosi, et. al. position is not born out by good science. To tell someone that isn’t a proven fact, isn’t that being dishonest? Clearly, there are many men that have the same background and are not gay, and many men who’ve had loving, involved parents (not dysfunctional) and are gay. This is clearly an injustice to the client and to parents.

    Finally, at least, Nicolosi is moving into a bit more honesty about results:

    “Some can walk away and say they have no homosexual attraction, period,” he said. “That’s rather rare. A lot of them say, ‘My homosexuality comes up rarely and not really strongly. It’s something that I can dismiss.’”

    Pruden seems to have his act together, in part.

    NARTH’s Pruden said fewer patients are seeking to change their sexual orientation these days because society has become more accepting.

    “Once people felt less shamed – and I think that’s really positive – there was less a feeling that they couldn’t talk about it,” Pruden said. But those who do want to minimize those feelings, Pruden said, “deserve to have their needs met as well.

    I think there’s a place for therapy for those of us who want to have our behavior harmonize with our faith beliefs and we should have the freedom to have our needs met … certainly, I would pursue someone like Warren and SITF for my needs.

  • Lynn David

    SG said: $5.99 a month???

    I guess you get what you pay for…..

  • Mary

    I 2nd what Teresa wrote. Very well written.

  • Ann


    I agree with Mary about what you wrote – I think “freedom” is the key word here and we should not have that be put in jeporady. Thank you for your well put statement.

  • Teresa

    Although, the following is a bit off-topic and even though I’m not Mormon, I’m deeply impressed by the Mormon Church’s new website: Mormons and Gays

    All of us can cultivate respect and understanding for one another without compromising our deepest held beliefs.

    No one fully knows the root causes of same-sex attraction. Each experience is different. Latter-day Saints recognize the enormous complexity of this matter. We simply don’t have all the answers. Attraction to those of the same sex, however, should not be viewed as a disease or illness. We must not judge anyone for the feelings they experience. Members of the Church who have same-sex attractions, but don’t act on them, can continue to enjoy full fellowship in the church, which includes holding the priesthood, carrying out callings, and attending the temple. Unlike in times past, the Church does not necessarily advise those with same-sex attraction to marry those of the opposite sex. Same-sex attraction itself is not a sin, but yielding to it is. However, through repentance Jesus Christ will offer forgiveness.

    In my opinion, the wording and layout of this new website is pretty incredible. The world is changing and in some pretty remarkable ways, for those of us with same sex attractions who choose a celibate life seem to be gaining some new found respect from others.

    I do recognize, though, that this movement towards recognizing that celibate gays do exist and we’re not a threat to anyone is built on the tremendous work that gays that choose different lives than mine have exerted. Tirelessly and with great zeal, you men and women have made a difference in my life and in the world. Thank you to Timothy Kincaid, Michael Bussee, Wayne Besen and all the myriad others who, often at great personal risk, have made life easier for celibate gays. It has not gone unnoticed.

    And, thank you, again, Warren for being at the forefront of good science harmonizing with a deep Christian Faith.

  • Teresa

    BTW, thank you Mary and Ann for your comments. I believe we’re quite on the same page with our views. It is indeed comforting to find others that share our ideas.

    Thank you, ladies.

  • Jeremy

    The bias here is also laughable. You take everything he said and add a rhetorical slant. David clearly said he did not do “nude therapy.” That doesn’t mean that nudity (as used by MKP) is not helpful for overcoming body shame and other issues that may underly SSA.

    I have stopped recommending MKP to my friends because of their pro-gay bias, but I still believe that process has a lot of value in helping diminish body shame and other aspects of SSA. It is not part of Reparative Therapy itself, but it is helpful for many men with SSA.

    You’re article does not address that though. Instead it is another attempt at a tabloid expose to make RT sound scandalous (like NEARLY every post here).