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Monday, July 11, 2005

 

Love in Action Issue

Although the gay press would like to keep the Love in Action issue brewing, I think the issue is likely to come down to whether the program see itself as a youth mental health treatment program or a ministry, ala camp.

After speaking with Director John Smid, I believe the program is ministry and not treatment. I think he views it more as a program that puts the emphasis on becoming identified with Christ and as such a ministry program for Christian teens and their families. He also told me that parents can "make" a kid go but that the LIA people will not restrain kids if they up and leave. I make my kids go to church in the sense that I control their freedom up to point. At a certain age, though, kids will do what they want no matter what consequences parents control. The same is true with this program. If any coercion is done, it is from the parents.

I believe true therapy requires informed consent from clients of any age. So if LIA wants to move into treatment, they will need to meet state guidelines (perhaps they already do, I do not know) and will need to assess for informed consent prior to treatment.

Comments:
Dr. Throckmorton,

Maybe I'm taking your statement too literally, but shouldn't there be an objective way of determining whether LIA's program is a ministry or treatment program besides depending on the ministry's or Rev. Smid's stated intentions? Isn't there an identifiable difference between providing pastoral and psychological counseling?

Based on my own ex-gay experience, it seems ex-gay ministries want the best of both worlds. They want to see themselves as providing effective psychology science-based counseling while maintaining a religious identity that exempts them from having to meet professional and legal standards.

Afterall, most ex-gay participants are attracted to ex-gay ministries because they want more than the religiously-acceptable option of celibacy, but seek actual change in sexual orientation through some type of proven treatment. I'm willing to bet that Zach's parents hope LIA provides him more than abstinence education and religious indoctrination, but also somehow leads him into becoming heterosexual.

Norm!
 
Norm:

Yes, there is a way to determine whether a program is ministry or not. Some programs are both but if treatment is being conducted then it should meet appropriate professional and state guidelines. I have no way of knowing whether LIA meets those guidelines and I cannot speculate without auditing the program.

Ex-gay ministries may provide professional counseling if the provider is properly schooled and credentialed. However, if not, the ministry cannot say that therapy is occuring even though the ministry activity may be helpful in some way.
 
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