Thursday, August 06, 2009

It's Official: APA Opposes "Reparative Therapy"

In an article in today’s New York Times entitled, “Psychologists Repudiate Gay-To-Straight Therapy,” the Associated Press reports that:

The American Psychological Association [APA] declared Wednesday that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments.

Instead, the APA urged therapists to consider multiple options – that could range from celibacy to switching churches – for helping clients whose sexual orientation and religious faith conflict.

In a resolution adopted on a 125-to-4 vote by the APA’s governing council, and in a comprehensive report based on two years of research, the 150,000-member association put itself firmly on record in opposition of so-called “reparative therapy” which seeks to change sexual orientation.

No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the report, and some research suggests that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies. . . .

Hmm . . . who’s going to break this news to the Courage apostolate?

As I’ve documented previously (most notably
here), although Courage itself does not attempt to change adult homosexual orientation, its website has a link to the largely discredited U.S.-based National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a sham organization of “therapists” that teaches that homosexuality is a disorder that is not only chosen, but can be changed through effort and therapy. The Courage website also links to numerous non-Catholic so-called “ex-gay” conservative religious groups — such as, Exodus International, Homosexuals Anonymous, Hope Ministry, International Healing Foundation, JONAH, People Can Change, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (P-FOX), and Straightway.

Given all of this, it’s not surprising (though certainly reprehensible) that Courage is yet to either refute the pseudo-science of reparative therapy that these “ex-gay” groups advocate or actively dissuade its members from pursuing such “therapy.” Here’s hoping that the latest from the APA changes all of that.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“Curing” Homosexuality
Debunking NARTH (Part I)
Debunking NARTH (Part II)
What Scientists in the UK Are Saying About Homosexuality
The Real Meaning of Courage
The Many Forms of Courage (Part I)
The Many Forms of Courage (Part II)
The Many Forms of Courage (Part III)
Beyond Courage

Recommended Off-site Links:
The APA Says “No Evidence” in Support of Ex-Gay Therapy - Wayne Besen (, August 5, 2009).
APA Passes Resolution Against Ex-Gay Therapy - Jim Burroway (Box Turtle Bulletin, August 5, 2009).
Exodus International Responds to the APA Resolution on Change Therapy - Jim Burroway (Box Turtle Bulletin, August 6, 2009).
NARTH Responds to the APA Resolution on Change Therapy - Jim Burroway (Box Turtle Bulletin, August 7, 2009).
Celibacy as a Therapy Goal - Wayne Besen (, August 6, 2009).


Anonymous said...


The psychologist's report suggested that devout clients could focus on overarching aspects of religion such as hope and forgiveness in order to transcend negative beliefs about homosexuality, and either remain part of their original faith within its limits – for example, by embracing celibacy – or find a faith that welcomes gays.

To this could be added, "or work to change one's church", which is your chosen path. Keep up your good work and pray for my ELCA denomination's upcoming convention in Mpls where lobbying for change may soon bear fruit.

kevin57 said...

Alleluia! This is indeed good news. Every profession has its quacks...can't do much about that, but the honorable in each profession need to call the quacks out, and this statement does that, in a definitive way.

Mark Andrews said...

I don't think for a minute that our good host, Michael, or most posters here, would agree with these comments (see

I do want to pick out one part of one of those comments though:

"Second, and this is the really confusing part, all Queer Theory and most Gender Studies programs describe all gender as a socially-determined CHOICE.

So who’s wrong here? APA or numerous academics? Don’t any of them see the profound contradiction?"

Indeed. I'd appreciate your thoughts on this apparent contradiction.

Neil said...

@Mark: I think the poster you quote is confusing some things. It's no wonder thaqt he's confused.

Yes, gender is a socially-determined choice. We're talking about gender here, not sexual orientation or sex. We're talking about girls playing with dolls, boys playing with trucks, women cooking and cleaning, men hunting and gathering, etc. That's what "gender" is, and of course that's socially determined. I suppose that some would argue that women are pre-disposed to do cooking, for example, but most academics would disagree. In any case, gender is not always straightforward, as biological males may self-indentify as female, etc. But all of this is irrelevant to the news story.

On a more relevant note, I think that "sexual identity" is socially constructed, while sexual orientation is not. Although same-sex attraction (and lack of opposite-sex attraction in some) have existed since the beginning of time, the concept of "homosexuality" has only existed for about 150 years. It's a category or label that has been socially constructed. So, I think that it's possible to change your sexual identity, the label that you identify with, but that doesn't change the underlying attractions, and I dont think there's a contradiction. For more, see

Mareczku said...


I have to smile at your comment, "Who's going to break this new to the Courage apostolate?" I must tell you that I already have. I e-mailed that article to my friends at Courage. I have had some good talks with some of the people there but am still annoyed that they had NARTH's Dr. Nicolosi at their conference last month. I truly think they need to distance themselves from the NARTH quacks.

Peace - Mareczku