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07/25/2011

Poll: Mere 24% support for 'ex-gay' therapy; still prob. more than scientific community gives it

by Jeremy Hooper

Ever since the Bachmann candidacy brought "ex-gay" back into the national conversation in a major way and social conservatives determined that more fully pushing "pray away the gay" therapy was the best way to handle it, I've been hoping someone would get the public on record about support (or lack thereof) for the scientifically-discredited notion. Because I couldn't be more confident about the vast majority's lack of credence in this particular system.

So kudos to the Human Rights Campaign for including that very kind of question in its latest Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll. And for bearing me out:

Screen Shot 2011-07-25 At 5.03.27 Pm
Screen Shot 2011-07-25 At 5.02.49 Pm
*FULL POLL RESULTS: HRC/ Greenberg Quinlan Rosner
MORE: HRC Launches "On the Road to Equality" – Nationwide LGBT Equality Bus Tour

Why it matters so much to me? Well, because if one takes any "pro-family" group out there and pulls the thread long enough, one will find some degree of "change" advocacy attached to the work. Always. Every time. With any of those groups that you see on CNN, acting as if they are merely out to "protect traditional marriage."

When we nip this nonsense in the bud, we nip away the religious right's most beloved political card: The one that allows them to deny discrimination, since they are simply "hating the changeable sin," not hating the "sinner." And much more than even that: We save both psyches and lives.

Break

*REMINDER: Just a smattering of what credible science has to say about "ex-gay" therapy:

American Medical Association: "opposes, the use of "reparative" or "conversion" therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation"
AMA Policy Regarding Sexual Orientation [AMA]

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American Counseling Association Ethics Committee: Clients may ask for a specific treatment from a counseling professional because they have heard about it from either their religious community or from popular culture. A counselor, however, only provides treatment that is scientifically indicated to be effective or has a theoretical framework supported by the profession. Otherwise, counselors inform clients that the treatment is "unproven" or "developing" and provide an explanation of the "potential risks and ethical considerations of using such techniques/procedures and take steps to protect clients from possible harm" (Standard C.6.e., "Scientific Bases for Treatment Modalities").

Considering all the above deliberation, the ACA Ethics Committee strongly suggests that ethical professional counselors do not refer clients to someone who engages in conversion therapy or, if they do, to proceed cautiously only when they are certain that the referral counselor fully informs clients of the unproven nature of the treatment and the potential risks and takes steps to minimize harm to clients (also see Standard A.2.b., "Types of Information Needed"). This information also must be included in written informed consent material by those counselors who offer conversion therapy despite ACA's position and the Ethics Committee's statement in opposition to the treatment. To do otherwise violates the spirit and specifics of the ACA Code of Ethics.

Exploring ethical issues related to conversion or reparative therapy [ACA]

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American Academy of Pediatrics: The terms reparative therapy and sexual orientation conversion therapy refer to counseling and psychotherapy aimed at eliminating or suppressing homosexuality. The most important fact about these “therapies” is that they are based on a view of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major mental health professions. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, which defines the standards of the field, does not include homosexuality. All other major health professional organizations have supported the American Psychiatric Association in its declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973. Thus, the idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the emergence of same-sex attraction and orientation
among some adolescents is in any way abnormal or mentally unhealthy has no support among any mainstream health and mental health professional organizations.

The idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the emergence of same-sex attraction and orientation among some adolescents is in any way abnormal or mentally unhealthy has no support among any mainstream health and mental health professional organizations.

Despite the general consensus of major medical, health, and mental health professions that both heterosexuality and homosexuality are normal expressions of human sexuality, efforts to change sexual orientation through therapy have been adopted by some political and religious organizations and aggressively promoted to the public. However, such efforts have serious potential to harm young people because they present the view that the sexual orientation of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth is a mental illness or disorder, and they often frame the inability to change one’s sexual orientation as a personal and moral failure.

Because of the aggressive promotion of efforts to change sexual orientation through therapy, a number of medical, health, and mental health professional organizations have issued public statements about the dangers of this approach. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises youth that counseling may be helpful for you if you feel confused about your sexual identity. Avoid any treatments that claim to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation, or treatment ideas that see homosexuality as a sickness.
Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth [APP]

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The American Psychological Association: The American Psychological Association adopted a resolution Wednesday stating that mental health professionals should avoid telling clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments.

The "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts" also advises that parents, guardians, young people and their families avoid sexual orientation treatments that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and instead seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services "that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth."
The approval, by APA's governing Council of Representatives, came at APA's annual convention, during which a task force presented a report that in part examined the efficacy of so-called "reparative therapy," or sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

"Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation," said Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, chair of the task force. "Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions." Glassgold added: "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. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex."

Based on this review, the task force recommended that mental health professionals avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts when providing assistance to people distressed about their own or others' sexual orientation.
Insufficient Evidence that Sexual Orientation Change Efforts Work, Says [American Psychological Association]

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The British Medical Association: Meeting at its annual conference in Brighton, has passed a motion saying that the National Health Service should not fund sexual orientation change therapy and called on the British Department of Health to investigate cases where conversion therapy has been funded with NHS money, and to prevent it happening in future.
British Medical Association: Ex-Gay Therapy Should Not Be Funded By NHS [Box Turtle Bulletin]

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