Response to critiques of reparative therapy
[Note: This was originally written as a response to statements by the former Exodus President, Alan Chambers supporting President Obama’s efforts to limit the options for Christian youth reflects his long held willful ignorance of the subject. The full text of Alan Chambers statement is available here on his website: http://alanchambers.org/alan-chambers-president-obama-is-right-to-try-to-end-ex-gay-therapy-rns-commentary/]
The latest statement by former Exodus President, Alan Chambers supporting President Obama’s efforts to limit the options for Christian youth reflects his long held willful ignorance of the subject.
Here is one of Alan's paragraphs which I find disturbing:
“For too long, same-sex attraction has been categorized as sinful and in need of repairing. Such stigma has caused LGBTQ people crippling shame and fear. As a child I experienced and as an adult I perpetuated that stigma. I profoundly regret my support for and promotion of reparative therapy.”
I can sort of understand where Alan is coming from, but it is important that he and others understand that what they experienced and promoted at Exodus was never part of Reparative Therapy.
It is unfortunate that there are now thousands of people who went to Exodus groups and small church programs led by individuals who were uninformed about the origins of Same-Sex Attraction and/or who refused to talk to real Reparative Therapists.
There really are people who experienced "exorcisms" or "deliverances" and then went away believing that they had experienced "reparative therapy.’ There are also many who would swear that they experienced it through Exodus simply because they heard the term mentioned briefly in a speech during a conference.
There are others who were told by pastors that they just needed to have faith and marry a woman and somehow that would cause all Same-Sex Attraction to go away. In many of these cases, they simply experienced more wounding and shame as well as a false promise that their Same-Sex Attraction would be miraculously 100% reversed overnight. All of these are the polar opposite of Reparative Therapy.
The efforts to ban Reparative Therapy are aimed at punishing those who disagree with the new mainstream beliefs that that anyone with the slightest Same-Sex Attraction must have been born TO BE "gay" and must be forced to embrace and celebrate that as their sole identity as early in life as possible.
Since there is not a separate modality of therapy for them to ban, they want to ban any discussion that indicates the individual might have any options to control their sexual behavior or reduce their same-sex attractions.
Unlike Alan Chambers, I and many of my friends have actually experienced real Reparative Therapy from qualified, licensed therapists who were trained by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, the founder of “Reparative Therapy.” The primary focus of Reparative Therapy is the elimination of shame. It is the polar opposite of everything Alan Chambers has described.
None of the "Former Ex-Gay Leaders" ever actually experienced Reparative Therapy. Alan had the opportunity to work with Dr. Nicolosi for FREE but he refused (unfortunately for him and everyone else at Exodus).
I personally know hundreds who have benefited from Reparative Therapy. It has worked for everyone who has fully tried it. When I say "worked" though, I don't mean "cured" but rather that it has brought healing and restoration - improving overall quality of life. As a byproduct, Same-Sex Attraction usually decreases, but it may not go away entirely for everyone. That is not the only goal.
To summarize, here are eight key points that Alan may want to consider:
- Licensed Therapists have always been forbidden from attempting to "change" anyone against their will. That would be a violation of basic ethics.
- No one has ever committed suicide due to Reparative Therapy. The individuals who have committed suicide would likely be alive today IF only they'd had access to real healing and unconditional love - which are the aim of Reparative Therapy.
- No one has ever been “forced” to undergo Reparative Therapy. By definition, that is not possible. The therapy itself teaches self-respect and empowers individuals to stand up for themselves. You cannot “force” someone to be empowered and stand up for themselves against their will.
- Many people may have been forced into going to Exodus groups or talking to the church leaders and there are all kinds of those, but none of that has ever had anything to do with Reparative Therapy.
- Reparative Therapy is not a separate modality of therapy. It uses all of the same therapy modalities of other therapists. The difference is respect for the client’s faith and identity. Reparative Therapists believe that there is more to an individual human human being than a reductionist reference to their attractions.
- "Reparative Therapy" got its name from the premise put forth by Dr. Nicolosi that the compulsion for homosexual behavior is often a "reparative drive" - and that if we address the underlying Shame and emotional wounds, this drive will be LESS compulsive and healing can take place. It does NOT mean "repairing" a homosexual person because they are 'broken.'
- “Reparative Therapy has brought healing and restoration - improving overall quality of life to everyone who has sincerely tried it. As a byproduct of this healing, Same-Sex Attraction usually decreases, but it is never expected or promised that it will go away entirely for everyone.
- None of the public critics who claim to have been “harmed” or "shamed" by “Reparative Therapy” have never actually worked with a real Reparative Therapist. This includes Alan Chambers and the outspoken "former Ex-Gay leaders".