National Catholic Register

Commentary

Appalled by ‘The’ Psychological Association

BY Father Benedict Groeschel

September 6-12, 2009 Issue | Posted 8/28/09 at 3:11 PM

 

As a member of the American Psychological Association for 36 years, I am filled with indignation at the recent statement of the APA that deems it “inappropriate” for therapists to treat homosexual clients.

Such therapy is called reparative therapy and has as its goal the establishment of a heterosexual orientation in place of a homosexual one.

This statement of the APA has been issued despite the fact that there are a number of outstanding members of that organization, including two past presidents, who have strongly supported reparative treatment.

Issued in August, “Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation” advises treatments that “increase family and school support and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.”

The report also states: “Some difficulties arise because the professional psychological community considers same-sex sexual attractions and behaviors to be a positive variant of human sexuality, while some traditional faiths continue to consider it a sin, moral failing, or disorder that needs to be changed. … We believe that licensed mental-health providers are more likely to maximize their clients’ self-determination by providing effective psychotherapy that increases a client’s abilities to cope, understand, acknowledge, explore and integrate sexual-orientation concerns into a self-chosen life in which the client determines the ultimate manner in which he or she does or does not express sexual orientation.”

Unfortunately, a statement like this issued by an organization like the APA automatically takes on a certain amount of authority. In this case, however, that claim is fraudulent.

Those who made the statement — really only a single APA committee — claim that there are at least 80 studies indicating that reparative treatment is not helpful to people of homosexual orientation.

They do admit, however, that most of these studies were actually made more than 30 years ago — and that the quality of the research involved was not very high.

Nevertheless, this APA committee has grabbed many headlines and, in the process, probably damaged many people who have struggled to overcome same-sex attachment through psychotherapy. At least some of them have likely given up on treatment that may have been greatly helping them.

Amazingly, the APA committee actually says in their statement that the reparative therapists may be “hurting people.”

On top of all that, in an almost bizarre ignoring of the purposes of his own discipline, one of the members of the task force that composed the report claimed that people who belong to religions that expect celibacy from the unmarried and monogamy from the married but find such expectations too difficult or onerous should simply change to a religion which requires less of them.

Is this in any way a part of the responsibilities of a psychological organization?

I am told by knowledgeable people whom I trust that the committee behind all this is primarily composed of people who also belong to a gay and lesbian division of the APA — a group that is surely not entirely impartial in matters such as these.

The APA has certainly done good things, but it has made its share of mistakes, as well. It does have a division on religious issues (Division 36), but clearly it has neither the right to interfere in people’s religious lives nor the competency to do so. Division 36’s task in no way involves telling religious people what they should or shouldn’t do.

The statement issued by the APA is deeply flawed and is capable of doing much damage to many people. In my opinion, there should be a protest throughout the United States by concerned people of all sorts, including therapists who are not particularly identified as religious therapists.

It is necessary to register a strong objection to this recent statement. For valid and reasonable information I suggest the writings of an outstanding researcher and therapist in this area, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, who has long been the inspiration behind the National Association for Research and Therapy for Homosexuality.

Recently, he was quoted in this newspaper pointing out that research used by homosexual activists shows that public opinion regarding homosexuality will change if people believe it is genetic. “To the extent people are not responsible,” said Nicolosi, “their behavior will be tolerated.” (See “Scientists Outing ‘Gay Gene’ Myth,” July 26-Aug. 8.)

More information regarding NARTH and Nicolosi’s work can be found at NARTH.com and JosephNicolosi.com.

I would strongly suggest that Register readers register their protest with the American Psychological Association for what amounts to an abuse of research and demand that the APA distance itself from this pseudoscientific presentation. For those interested, the website for the APA is APA.org.

Franciscan Friar of the Renewal

Father Benedict Groeschel is host of

EWTN’s “Sunday Night Live.”