Letters in support of therapy for unwanted homosexuality

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Written to the Brazilian Psychological Association

  1. NARTH,  Dr. Joseph Nicolosi

  2. Apokata. Psychological Services, Dr. Melvin Wong


  

                              March 3, 2001

 

To Whom It May Concern: 

I am writing this letter on behalf of Dr. Rozangela Justino, who we understand has been called before the Brazilian Board of Psychology because she believes that homosexuality is changeable, and that it is a form of psychosexual immaturity.

I am the President of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. NARTH is a 1,000-member professional group in the U.S. composed of psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts.

Perhaps you would be interested in our recent study of 882 formerly homosexual men and women who have experienced a substantial degree of sexual-orientation change. The professional journal Psychological Reports published our study in June 2000.

Among the findings:

A total of 45.4% of the respondents reported a shift that made them more heterosexual than homosexual. The respondents who had undertaken therapy were overwhelmingly in agreement that counseling had helped them reduce their homosexual attractions.  Many perceived their homosexual behaviors as an addiction.

A large majority said their religious and spiritual beliefs played a crucial role in overcoming their homosexuality.

Areas of functioning in which the respondents reported significant improvement include the following:

¡P                  Self-acceptance

¡P                  Self-understanding

¡P                  Sense of personal power

¡P                  Assertiveness

¡P                  Sense of clarity and security in gender identity

¡P                  Self-esteem

¡P                  Diminishment of loneliness

¡P                  Improvement in emotional stability and maturity

¡P                  Lessened depression

¡P                  Better ability to resolve interpersonal conflicts

¡P                  Decreased homosexual thoughts, feelings and behaviors

Before counseling or therapy, 68% of the respondents perceived themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual.  After treatment, only 13% perceived themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual. 

Also, the following respected professionals have expressed at least conditional support for the possibility of sexual orientation change:

Robert Spitzer,  M.D., the psychiatrist who is called the ¡§architect of the 1973 decision¡¨ that removed homosexuality from the DSM, recently expressed serious concern about the movement against sexual-reorientation therapy.  In two months, Dr. Spitzer is scheduled to report the findings of his own study to the American Psychiatric Association.  He studied about 200 individuals who say they have achieved a sexual orientation change and have maintained that change for at least 5 years.

Dr. Spitzer says:

¡§I¡¦m convinced from people I have interviewed¡Kmany of them¡Khave made substantial changes toward becoming heterosexual.  I came to this study skeptical.  I now claim that these changes can be sustained.¡¨

About exclusive homosexuality, he conceded, ¡§I think, implicitly, there is something not working.¡¨

Dr. Raymond Fowler, Chief Executive Officer of the American Psychological Association, says that his interpretation of the APA¡¦s position on reparative therapy is that those who wish to explore developing heterosexual feelings or behaviors have a right to do so as part of every client¡¦s right to self-determination.

Dr. Brent Scharman, former president of the Utah Psychological Association, considers himself a ¡§typical¡¨ psychologist¡Xnot an activist on either side of the homosexual issue¡Xand he says that all homosexual individuals should have the right to pursue change.  It is the client, he says, who should determine the direction of the treatment.

Dr. Warren Throckmorton, past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, studied a broad cross-section of research on sexual-orientation change.  He says such treatment has been effective, can be conducted in an ethical manner, and should be available to those clients requesting such assistance. His paper was published two years ago (¡§Attempts to Modify Sexual Orientation: A Review of Outcome Literature and Ethical Issues,¡¨ Journal of Mental Health Counseling October 1998, vol. 20, pp. 283-304).

Dr. Martin Seligman, 1998 President of the American Psychological Association, cites research in his book What You Can Change and What You Can't that is optimistic about change for those who have had fewer homosexual experiences and/or some bisexual feelings.

In a recent paper in the premiere academic journal Psychotherapy, and again in the American Journal of Family Therapy, Dr. Mark Yarhouse of Regent University made a powerful case for such therapy:

¡§Psychologists have an ethical responsibility to allow individuals to pursue treatment aimed at curbing experiences of same-sex attraction¡Knot only because it affirms the clients¡¦ right to dignity, autonomy and agency¡Kbut also because it demonstrates regard for diversity.¡¨

NARTH believes that effective counseling evolves from a shared value system between client and counselor. But when gay activism labels the desire to change orientation illegitimate, it imposes its own views and values on a dissatisfied homosexual, and takes away his right to self-determination.

We hope you will visit our website, www.narth.com, for documentation of these statements and others. Please feel free to contact us to discuss this issue, should you wish to do so.

 

Respectfully,

Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.

President, NARTH


To Whom this May Concern

I am writing this statement to offer my professional opinion and comments on the psychological treatment of individuals struggling with unwanted homosexuality.

I am a licensed psychologist in private practice in California for over eleven years. I have been involved extensively in training and supervision of doctoral level psychologists, psychiatrists in residency training, medical students, psychiatric social workers and marriage and family therapists in the greater San Francisco bay area. I have been providing mental health training for seminaries as well as in government or university sponsored conferences in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong in China.

Based on my experience, unwanted homosexuality is real and individuals suffer great anguish from it. I believe the rights of these individuals should be respected equally as we respect those individuals who do not find homosexuality unwanted. Patient¡¦s self determination and autonomy should be respected to empower them to a higher and more effective level of functioning. I would also like to appeal to the tenet of fairness in the market place of health care instead of what is politically expedient because we should attending diligently to realize the treatment goals for these patients. We need to offer these people tolerance in pursuing their happiness based on a desire to change although this is against political correctness at this time.

The second point I would like to offer for consideration is the right to freedom from hostility of a mental health professional to practice what he or she is proficient in. An advancing society based on a free market economy cannot stifle this creativity because everyone will eventually suffer from this shortsightedness and close-mindedness. Diversity and multiculturalism enrich and they do not limit. We should have no fear in having any mental health professional practice whatever he or she is good at.

Although the American Psychiatric Association did not include homosexuality as a diagnosis in the current version of it¡¦s diagnostic manual, it did not declare homosexuality as a healthy condition either. The committee that voted on the deletion of this diagnosis made a political move and not a decision based on clinical evidence. The psychiatrist who was largely responsible for this committee, Dr. Robert Spitzer has said on record in popular media shows that he believed change for homosexuals was possible. He further said that he believed these changed people were happy people.

I would therefore make this plea to give individuals struggling with unwanted homosexuality equal access to therapy by not limiting what any mental health professionals can and should do. We need tolerance and fairness to serve our patients.

 

 Yours truly,

Melvin Wong, Ph.D.

______________________

Melvin W. Wong, Ph.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist


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