United Kingdom Parliament “Debate” Dismisses SOCE Therapy as “Voodoo”
Last week (21st November) a “debate” took place in Westminster Hall in preparation for the Private Members “Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) Bill” which was due to have its second reading on 22nd (brought by Geriant Davies (Labour MOP for Swansea West). While this 2nd Reading has been postponed until the 24th January the so-called debate shows the situation that is faced by those who want to get help to overcome unwanted homosexual feelings and the uninformed opposition that exists.
Firstly, while this event was called a debate it was anything but. The free dictionary at thefreedictionary.com defines debate as follows:
1. To consider something; deliberate.
2. To engage in argument by discussing opposing points.
3. To engage in a formal discussion or argument.
1. To deliberate on; consider.
2. To dispute or argue about.
3. To discuss or argue (a question, for example) formally.
1. A discussion involving opposing points; an argument.
2. Deliberation; consideration.
3. A formal contest of argumentation in which two opposing teams defend and attack a given proposition.
As can be seen from the record of the event from Hansard (the official record of the Houses of Parliament) the only speakers were those against so-called gay-to-straight or reparative therapy (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131120/halltext/131120h0002.htm#13112084000001).
This means that those MPs who spoke were able to speak unchallenged. But what did they say?
Well, Sandra Osborne (Labour MP for Ayr, Carrick and Cunnock) states “Conversion or reparative therapy is the attempt by individuals, often posing as professionals, to try to alter the sexuality of lesbian, gay or bisexual patients.” By this definition Nicholas Cummings, ex-president of the American Psychological Association, only poses as a professional because he has helped people go through this type of therapy. And what about Dr. Gerard van De Aardwerg, from the Netherlands, who has worked in this area for decades and has been a psychotherapist for the Dutch government or Dr. Paul Miller who was an officer in Northern Ireland for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and adviser on Mental Health to the Northern Irish government and was deliberately entrapped by the militant gay activist Patrick Strudwick? We can add to this the support for this type of therapy from the late Robert Perloff, past president of the American Psychological Association, and Rogers H Wright, a past member of the American Psychological Association’s Board of Directors. Are these people only “posing” as professionals?
Two MPs (Stephen Gilbert (St Austell and Newquay) and Mike Freer (Finchley and Golders Green) – a Liberal Democrat and a Conservative) both referred to this type of therapy as “voodoo therapy”. Yet the clinical evidence is anything but. In 2009 a Task Force at the American Psychological Association (APA) stated that “there is no enough evidence to claim that sexual orientation change efforts (their term for reparative therapies) work”. Just as importantly they stated that there is not enough evidence to say whether they are harmful or not – something that the MPs at last week’s “debate” have ignored. But when we read the biographies of those who were part of the Task Force we see that their report is anything but unbiased. Jack Drescher, who was part of the Task Force is on record as stating that sexual orientation change efforts are a type of torture. Put simply, Dresher and other read the research to find evidence of failure and harm, and when they did not they dismissed the research as not rigorous enough.
In the American Psychological Association’s statement of “Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts” they quote a number of pieces of research that show that “homosexuality is a normal and positive variation” of human sexuality. These are Bell, Weinberg, & Hammer-smith, 1981; Bullough, 1976; Ford & Beach, 1951; Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 1948; Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin, & Gebhard, 1953. Kinsey’s research included, as exposed in the short-lived ITV series “The Sexual Revolution” the sexual abuse of children by Kinsey and his researchers with the recording of that on film. Yet the APA ignores this? Why? Because their arguments are founded on this research. Kinsey et al, Ford and Beach, Bell et al, and Bullough all recruited their subjects specifically to support their views – yet these are of a high enough standard to stand as are the studies that the APA quotes as saying that change is not possible (Birk, Huddleston, Miller, & Cohler, 1971; James, 1978; McConaghy, 1969, 1976; McConaghy, Proctor, & Barr, 1972; Tanner, 1974, 1975) none of which were done to the high standards required of modern psychological research. Similarly the research that claims harm (Shidlo & Schroeder, 2002) was often recruited by advertising specifically for those who were harmed by the therapy. In any other field this would raise warning signs, but not when dealing with sexual orientation? Again this is the American Psychological Association’s report was hijacked for the political agenda of Drescher and the others. The authors also dismiss the longitudinal study of Jones and Yarhouse (http://www.exgaystudy.org/) as it does not have a control group, yet very little research into the effectiveness of a psychological therapy has a control group because of the ethical consideration of protecting the client. Yet again we see that Drescher and others apply one rule for the evidence that supports their agenda and another rule for the evidence that goes against what they want people to hear.
We also see this influence on the British Psychological Society’s statement against Reparative Therapy which states that this type of therapy is the sole preserve of those mixing a modern Freudian psychotherapeutic position with religious faith, quoting Dr. Nicolosi and Dr. Moberley, ignoring the Person-Centered Approach of Dr. Dean Byrd and David Pruden. Why this missing of Byrd and Pruden, the coaching modern of Mike Rosebush, the eclectic model of Richard Cohen or other non-Freudian models? Because there is the desire to dismiss the whole idea of sexual orientation change as outdated and driven by a Freudian fascination of sex, neither of which is true.
The APA report encourages therapists to use therapy to enable the client to accept their sexual orientation and lists a number of articles, all of which are chapters in books but are not original research! (Bartoli & Gillem, 2008; Brown, 2006, Beckstead & Israel, 2007; Glassgold, 2008; Haldeman, 2004; Lasser & Gottlieb, 2004). Of August 2013 the Sage Journal data base had 301 articles that referred to sexual orientation affirmation through therapy, often using the disputed term “internalized homophobia”. Of those 301 articles over 80% contained little or no reference to clinical studies. Of the other 15+% only one article was anything but a record of an individual therapists work with a client, the type of research that is recognized as the weakest, with that one article a PhD paper looking at a small number of testimonies. This means that the American Psychological Association is promoting a therapy for which there is no decent evidence to support is as either safe or effective. Again we see the “one rule for you, one rule for me” behaviour of the pro-gay lobby.
There has been one truly independent review of the evidence concerning sexual orientation change therapies. This was undertaken by Dr. Glynn Harrison, a member of the UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists who was at the time professor of psychiatry at the University of Bristol and who has been an adviser to the World Health Organization on epidemiology. This review, undertaken for the Anglican Communion’s listening project on human sexuality, found that the success rate for reparative therapies to be no lower than other psychological interventions and, just as importantly, found the rate of harm to be equal to other psychological interventions. Dr. Harrison found, just as Drs. Cummings, Perloff and Wrighthad before him, that there were no ethical grounds to exclude sexual orientation change efforts as a theraputic option.
So, contrary to the claims of the MPs, reparative therapies are not voodoo.
Sharon Hodgson (Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West) states that: “Pushing conversion therapy on people who are homosexual might not be on the same level as physical attacks on a member of the LGBT community, but it is certainly part of the wider problem of discrimination against them. That said, the psychological harm that medical professionals have recognized as a side effect of such attempts to change or tone down sexuality could well lead to the same end result.” Again these claims are false. No therapist who offers sexual orientation change efforts pushes therapy onto a client anymore than any ethical therapist would force a therapy onto a client for any other issue. Also, as already stated, there is no greater risk of harm in going through a sexual orientation change effort than in going through therapy due to bereavement. Mrs. Hodgson has been misled by the various “professional bodies” that have chosen to ignore the clinical evidence and to allow the gay rights lobby, most of whom have no problem with a therapist offering reparative therapy, to dictate their morals. Notice also that neither Mrs. Hodgson nor any other MP (including the Minister of State) were able to produce any evidence to support their claim that gay-to-straight therapy is harmful or a form of discrimination.
The voluntary register put forward by Norman Lamb (Minister of State, Department of Health) offers no hope to those who wish to change as the code of conduct is being dictated to by the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), who have admitted that their ethical statement on this was written without reference to the clinical evidence, the British Psychological Society (BPS), who (as already pointed out) are deliberately misleading members on this issue, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)who, in the trade journal, chose to ignore all the clinical evidence in an article on this issue, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists who – through Dr. Michael King – have dictated to the various bodies with Dr. King falsely claiming to be representing the wider College when he is only (as Dr. Harrison pointed out in his study) representing the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Special Interest Group which has not published an annual report in over two years, and did not hold an annual conference this year. These bodies have also been asked, led by the unscientific UKCP, to write a statement against this type of therapy. On the grounds of experience we can expect this to be false, to scare mongering and to promote as ethical the unfounded practice of gay affirmation through therapy.
Just as this statement from the “professional bodies” will be based on political correctness rather than clinical research, we can be sure that the Private Member’s Bill (just as the Early Day Motion before it) will be devoid of clinical foundation putting political correctness before the ethical and human rights of clients (note: this article was originally published at: http://aflame.blog.co.uk/2013/11/29/last-week-21st-november-a-debate-took-place-in-westminster-17120929/).
Phelim McIntyre, N.L.P.M.P. is a professional counselor and life coach specializing in issues concerning masculinity, including sexual orientation, based in the South of England. He is an ex-homosexual, having come out at the age of 13 and now overcoming SSA. He has now been straight for over 10 years.