Sexual Orientation Change Efforts Therapy (SOCE)Before I begin I want to ask the discussion that follows this is thoughtful, based on good science, and in ethical reasoning. I will delete overtly discriminatory and non scientific personal opinions
I live in Utah. It is ground zero of reparative therapy or SOCE. I am on the board of the LGBTQ Affirmative Therapists of Utah non-profit organization (http://goo.gl/plVYZl
). So you know where I am coming from in this discussion. The following article was published in a religious publication. The only reason I am choosing to comment on it is because the person writing it chooses to attach her her professional licensure to her name giving her that professional therapist credibility. Cached version of the article: https://goo.gl/M4NQlf
I would like to say that it sounds pretty similar to other Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) therapist views I've heard before. And like all the others she does a good job of taking good scientific constructs based on research (stress diathesis) and applies them with willful abandon to her views of homosexuality. The problem with this is it gives her a sound of credibility while being, in reality, precisely unscientific and probably anti-scientific. The premise of her entire article rests on this false assumption:There is continuing debate about whether sexual preference is indeed something you are born with, or is something that you learn. It is impossible to determine how much of who we are is due to nature and how much is due to nurture. But whether we are 80% nature and 20% nurture, or just the opposite, it doesn’t matter. We are still responsible for our choices.
This suggests, against all science
, that it is possible to change or create a sexual orientation. This gives people false hope for change - and worse, false shame for not changing. A recent 2015 actual empirical investigation of SOCE therapy concluded (http://goo.gl/iZthww
):the overall results support the conclusion that sexual orientation is highly resistant to explicit attempts at change and that SOCE are overwhelmingly reported to be either ineffective or damaging by participants.
These results are not the first to suggest these conclusions. In fact an exhaustive report by the American Psychological Association in 2009, based on current scientific evidence concludes (http://goo.gl/F0oeA5
)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 orientationGiven this, there are important ethical considerations to consider.
1) What does the SOCE therapist do when I client says, "I am gay/bi/lesbian and I want to stay that way?"
2) What does the affirmative therapist do when I client says, "I am same-gender attracted but my religious identity is my most important identity and I want to live according to my covenants?"
3) What is the role of therapists who learn about the messages and practices of therapists in the SOCE field?
I'm curious to hear your respectful thoughts...