Monday, February 01, 2010

In response to a commenter on sexual-orientation change efforts

In a previous post, I examined a Minneapolis Star Tribune article that showed that the Catholic Archdiocese of Minneapolis and Saint Paul was promoting programs that attempted to change the sexual orientation of clients, as opposed to helping them control their sexual desires. One commenter said that my criticism was inaccurate, as the APA had allowed such therapy. I disallowed the comment. The APA's stance, once again, is that psychologists should not advise clients that they can change their underlying sexual orientation.

Evidence from case studies does show that some very religious clients who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can successfully control their sexual behavior if they wish - their religious motivations may overcome their sexual orientations. I still hold that this is not advisable, but the APA does recognize that it can happen. It's a legitimate position for the APA to take. However, the commenter clearly does not understand the distinction between sexual orientation and sexual behavior, which is one of the problems that many religious programs have. Again, religious programs that advise LGB people that they can become fully heterosexual are intrinsically flawed and fly in the face of scientific evidence. Mental health professionals who advise their clients that they can become heterosexual should have their licenses revoked, or else see license outside of the APA so that we can easily tell they're a bunch of quacks. That's why I disallowed the comment.

At this point, religious programs that attempt help LGBT people stay celibate are merely ill-advised - they're theologically bad, but they aren't in fundamental and irrevocable conflict with our existing evidence base.

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