The American Psychological Association said Wednesday that it is ethical—and can be beneficial—for counsellors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions. The APA is the largest association of psychologists worldwide, with 150,000 members. The association plans to promote the new approach to sexuality with YouTube videos, speeches to schools and churches, and presentations to Christian counsellors. According to new APA guidelines, the therapist must make clear that homosexuality doesn’t signal a mental or emotional disorder. The counsellor must advise clients that gay men and women can lead happy and healthy lives, and emphasize that there is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation. “We’re not trying to encourage people to become ‘ex-gay,’ ” said Judith Glassgold, who chaired the APA’s task force on the issue. “But we have to acknowledge that, for some people, religious identity is such an important part of their lives, it may transcend everything else.” The new approach allowing therapists to help clients transcend their sexual orientation was developed by an APA task force of six academics and counsellors, some active in gay-rights causes, and endorsed by the group’s governing body. Their original mandate was to respond to the growing visibility of sexual orientation “change therapists” who claim it is possible to alter arousal patterns. The task force reviewed scientific literature on change therapy and found no evidence it worked. But the task force also gained an appreciation for the pain some men and women feel in trying to reconcile their sexual attractions with their faith. There are gay-affirming churches. But the task force acknowledged that for those from conservative faiths, affirming a gay identity could feel very much like renouncing their religious identity. “They’re faced with a terrible dilemma,” Dr. Glassgold said. The profession has to offer alternatives, she says, “so they don’t pursue these ineffective therapies” promising change.
Gay, Christian and celibate
Psychologists endorse celibacy counselling