.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, September 03, 2006

 

Washington Times: APA's position unchanged

Today's Washington Times addresses the differences in interpreting APA President Gerald Koocher's remarks at the APA convention last month. We covered that issue here at that time noting that President Koocher clarified his remarks following the APA Town Hall meeting.

The Washington Times site has been down most of the last two days. Here is the article from the Google cache.

APA denies any retreat on gay therapy

By Joyce Howard Price
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
September 3, 2006

Some pro-family groups say recent comments by the head of the American Psychological Association suggest the organization is softening its opposition to treating homosexuals who want to change their sexual orientation.

The APA denies any changes in its stance, and the president later clarified his statements.

The Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, a group that believes some homosexuals can become heterosexuals through "deep reparative therapy," said he is convinced "peer pressure came down on the APA president like a mountain cougar and forced him" to back away from public comments he made less than a month ago.

"The APA has no conflict with psychologists who help those distressed by unwanted homosexual attraction," said Gerald P. Koocher, president of the 155,000-member APA, at the group's annual convention in New Orleans last month.

In an e-mail message early last week, Sharon Slater, president of United Families International, a nonprofit that works to protect the family as the fundamental unit of society, called Mr. Koocher's comments "an amazing turnabout," given that for more than 30 years, the "APA has aggressively opposed treatment of unwanted same-sex attraction."

Leaders of groups engaged in treating homosexuals who want to become heterosexuals, such as the National Association for Research and Treatment of Homosexuals and Exodus International, also described Mr. Koocher's remarks as a positive development. They indicate the APA is "recognizing a person's autonomy and right to self-determination," Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, told the Baptist Press. Mr. Chambers and other therapists who offer such treatment picketed outside the APA convention and believed their presence was a contributing factor in Mr. Koocher's comments.

But the APA executive clarified his comments shortly after the convention. "In a full, multifaceted therapeutic relationship, the therapist has every duty to respond to patient choice and to help patients achieve their goals," Mr. Koocher said. "I will always affirm the crucial importance of providing our services with careful attention to patients' wishes."

But Mr. Koocher said discussion of interventions in the "extremely complex issue" of sexual orientation "must balance patient choice with the therapist's ethical obligation to obtain informed consent for any therapy process." "When dealing with sexual orientation," he said, a therapist "must" be sure that a person wishing to change is not "motivated purely from the social pressures of a homophobic environment" because therapy "will not modify societal prejudices." Mr. Koocher further stressed that "patients must understand" that treatments intended to modify sexual orientation "lack a validated scientific foundation and may prove psychologically harmful."

There is not much new here but the Times is the only paper that I know of that has covered the post-convention spin.

Comments:
I think therapy can be harmful to a patient not necessarily that it actively causes actively, but in the sense that it fails to address a patient's shame about his SSA. So, it would cause indirect harm through neglect: the patient is told that his SSA is abnormal, and that it CAN be fixed if he tries hard enough. That is a recipe for disaster, assuming that the patient has no potential for heterosexuality from the start.

Instead, its important for the patient to know that homosexuality is a viable, perfectly normal option to take. If the patient demonstrates maturity, peace of mind, and true self determination, and thus still requests that the therapist help develop his heterosexual potential, only then should the therapist assist him.

A lot can be said for making peace with your SSA, whether you seek to affirm or leave it.
 
NARTH has again oversold what happened at the APA. Believing in self-determination does not equate in support for reparative therapy. The APA position is that in a free society people can do lots of unwise things. However, the APA would not support them.
 
But Mr. Koocher said discussion of interventions in the "extremely complex issue" of sexual orientation "must balance patient choice with the therapist's ethical obligation to obtain informed consent for any therapy process." "When dealing with sexual orientation," he said, a therapist "must" be sure that a person wishing to change is not "motivated purely from the social pressures of a homophobic environment" because therapy "will not modify societal prejudices." Mr. Koocher further stressed that "patients must understand" that treatments intended to modify sexual orientation "lack a validated scientific foundation and may prove psychologically harmful."

QUESTIONS: How does a therapist do all of this when the client is a child? How do we know his parents aren't trying to "fix" their kid because of social pressure and homophobia? How do we repsect the CHILD's right to "self-determination? And most importantly, how does the therapist KNOW that he or she is not reacting to the same pressures?
 
Anon - This is a good question. For most counseling issues, there is an age of consent for medical or psychological care. This would apply to this kind of care as well.
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?