By Patrick B. Craine

August 5, 2009 ( – The American Psychological Association (APA) adopted a resolution Wednesday urging mental health professionals to avoid telling clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments. The decision rejects the hundred years’ worth of research indicating the effectiveness and benefits of sexual reorientation therapy due to “serious design flaws.”

The resolution also advises that parents, guardians, young people and their families avoid sexual orientation treatments that portray homosexuality as a mental illness and rather seek treatments “that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.”

The approval was made at the APA’s annual convention with a 125-4 vote. At the convention, a task force presented a report that in part examined the efficacy of ‘reparative therapy,’ or sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

The task force examined the 83 studies conducted in English between 1960 and 2007 regarding SOCE, but concluded that the vast majority of the studies were unacceptable because of poor methodology. “Unfortunately, much of the research in the area of sexual orientation change contains serious design flaws,” task force chair Dr. Judith M. Glassgold said. “Few studies could be considered methodologically sound and none systematically evaluated potential harms.”

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, founder and director of the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic, disagreed, according to CitizenLink. Nicolosi claims the organization did not give sufficient weight to the years of clinical research that shows that in some cases sexual orientation is changeable through therapy. “The APA is really failing to not only represent science, which is its primary responsibility,” he said, “but it’s also failing to inform people.”

While not making a definitive statement, the task force suggested that SOCE carried a potential for harm. “There are no methodologically sound studies of recent SOCE that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE is safe or harmful and for whom,” the report says.

Elaborating, Glassgold said, “Without such information, psychologists cannot predict the impact of these treatments and need to be very cautious, given that some qualitative research suggests the potential for harm.”

Reiterating the APA stance that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, a decision made in 1973, the report cites the work of Dr. Evelyn Hooker. Hooker’s research purportedly showed that pathology was no more apparent in homosexuals than in heterosexuals. Though her work has been harshly criticized, and is effectively debunked, Hooker is considered by some to be the mother of the homosexual movement, and her 1957 study was one of two cited in the 1973 decision.

The purpose of her 1957 study was to analyze the prevalence of mental instability in homosexuals by comparing a group of homosexual men with a group of heterosexual men. The study’s homosexual subjects, however, were screened and selected by the Mattachine Society, a newly-formed homosexual activist organization, who removed individuals from the homosexual group who showed signs of mental instability.

According to Jeff Johnston, gender issues analyst for Focus on the Family, the APA has based its guidelines on the false premise that homosexuality is normal and positive. “There are a lot of people out there who haven’t just changed their sexual identity or behavior, but their attractions have also changed,” he told CitizenLink. “I’m one of those people.”

In fact, the task force report accepts the normality of homosexual behaviour without question, and begins its resolution with that premise, citing as evidence, most notably, the 1948 and 1953 studies of Alfred Kinsey.

The research of Kinsey, however, considered the father of the sexual revolution, has been discredited by Dr. Judith Reisman, who revealed in her book “Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences,” that his survey populations were substantially drawn from prison inmates and homosexual bars, though he represented them as indicative of the general population.

With such support, the APA declares: “Be it resolved, That the American Psychological Association affirms that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality regardless of sexual orientation identity.”

The report also addressed the potential for conflict between one’s religious faith and homosexual orientation, with many seeking a change in sexual orientation due to a conflict with their beliefs. The task force recommended that mental health practitioners help clients “explore possible life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation, reduce the stigma associated with homosexuality, respect the client’s religious beliefs, and consider possibilities for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life.”

“In other words,” Glassgold said, “we recommend that psychologists be completely honest about the likelihood of sexual orientation change, and that they help clients explore their assumptions and goals with respect to both religion and sexuality.”

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) refuted the APA’s claims in a meta-analysis they issued in their Journal of Human Sexuality. They showed that over 100 years of research indicates that treatment for unwanted homosexuality can be beneficial. According to their analysis of the research, reparative therapy is effective and is generally not harmful. They demonstrate, further, that pathology has been found to be significantly greater in the homosexual community.

In a press release issued today, NARTH Vice-President of Operations David Pruden expressed appreciation for the APA’s recognition of the importance of faith and religious diversity, but accused the organization of bias in its selection of the task force.

“The task force reflected virtually no ideological diversity,” he says. “No APA member who offers reorientation therapy was allowed to join the task force. In fact, one can make the case that every member of the task force can be classified as an activist.

“They selected and interpreted studies that fit within their innate and immutable view,” he continues, pointing out two key studies that they omitted, and one that they downplayed. “Had the task force been more neutral in their approach, they could have arrived at only one conclusion: homosexuality is not invariable fixed in all people, and some people can and do change, not just in terms of behavior and identity but in core features of sexual orientation such as fantasy and attractions.”

Regarding the potential for harm associated with treatment, “as in all provisions of psychological care, the possibility exists that the client may not be happy with the outcome,” Pruden comments. “Further, if some clients are dissatisfied with the therapeutic outcome, as in therapy for other issues, the possibility for dissatisfaction appears to be outweighed by the potential gains. The possibility of dissatisfaction also seems insignificant when compared to the substantial medical, emotional, and physical risks associated with homosexual behavior.”

“NARTH would suggest that these medical and emotional risks,” he concludes, “along with the incongruity of homosexual behavior with the personal and religious values of many people will continue to be the motivation for some individuals to seek assistance for their unwanted homosexual attraction.”

See related coverage:

Mega Analysis of Over 100 Years of Research Shows Treatment for Unwanted Homosexuality Beneficial

Kinsey: Crime of the Century

The Mother of the Homosexual Movement – Evelyn Hooker PhD