Therapists still offering treatments for homosexuality despite lack of evidence

Mar 26, 2009

A significant minority of psychiatrists and therapists are still attempting to help lesbian, gay and bisexual clients become heterosexual despite lack of evidence that such treatment is beneficial or even safe, according to research funded by the Wellcome Trust.

The research, published today in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry, coincides with the launch of the website www.treatmentshomosexuality.org.uk. The website gathers together oral histories from lesbian, gay and bisexual people who have undergone treatment as well as from professionals who developed and conducted such treatments.

Researchers from UCL (University College London) and St George's, University of London, question over 1,400 professionals on whether they would attempt to change a client's if requested. Although only one in twenty-five (4%) said that they would do so, one in six (17%) reported having assisted at least one client to reduce their gay or lesbian feelings, usually through therapy. Therapists were also asked in what year they had conducted such therapy and there was no sign of a decrease in recent times.

"There is very little evidence to show that attempting to treat a person's homosexual feelings is effective and in fact it can actually be harmful," says Professor Michael King from UCL. "So it is surprising that a significant minority of practitioners still offer this help to their clients."

Professor King and colleagues found that a number of reasons were given by the and therapists for offering assistance, ranging from the counsellor's own moral and about homosexuality through to a desire to help patients who were stressed by discrimination. There was also a degree of ignorance about the lack of evidence surrounding such the efficacy of such therapies - in particular, that no randomised control trials have ever been conducted that show that the therapies are effective.

Comments from the counsellors who offered assistance included:

"Where someone had a strong faith, then working to help the person accept their feelings but manage them appropriately may be the best approach if [the] person felt they would lose God and therefore their life was not worth living."

"The individuals I have worked with have all been very unhappy about their sexuality and wish they were heterosexual. This has been because of responses from friends, family and the local community - which outside London is still very homophobic."

"Children and young adults are more likely to be confused about their sexuality and to jump to conclusions (correct or otherwise) if unable to talk through their concerns."

"Although homosexual feelings are usual in people, their physical expression, and being a person's only way of having sexual relations is problematic. The physical act for male homosexuals is physically damaging and is the main reason in this country for AIDS/HIV. It is also perverse."

Professor King believes that it is important to raise awareness amongst both therapists and the wider public about homosexuality and its so-called treatments.

"The best approach is to help people adjust to their situation, to value them as people and show them that there is nothing whatever pathological about their sexual orientation," he says. "Both mental health practitioners and society at large must help them to confront prejudice in themselves and in others."

The researchers have launched a new website, www.treatmentshomosexuality.org.uk, which aims to help raise awareness and collect oral histories from both mental health practitioners and the people they have treated.

Commenting on the research, Derek Munn, Director of Public Affairs at the gay and lesbian equality organisation Stonewall, says: "So-called gay cure therapies are wholly discredited. The conclusions of this research are a welcome reminder that what lesbian and gay people need is equal treatment by society, not misguided treatment by a minority of health professionals."

Source: Wellcome Trust (news : web)

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freethinking
5 / 5 (1) Mar 26, 2009
So lets get this straight. If a person thinks they are in the wrong body sexually, the majority of psychologists think its ok to mutilate their bodies so that they look like the sex they think they are, but its wrong for a person who wants to be straight but thinks theyre not, to try and change.

Not only that, psychologists say its dangerous for a gay person to try and become heterosexual. Well, the gay lifestyle is one of the most destructive life styles around.

This is a fact and not even moralizing. Its just like saying the smoking lifestyle reduces your life span. If you choose to smoke, you pay the price. You have every right to smoke, and you have every right to participate in the gay lifestyle, but you pay the health consequences. The same thing is with those that are thrill seekers (mountain climbers, parachutists, etc.), they say its genetic, but if they want not to participate and they want help to stop taking risks, nothing wrong with it. Alcoholics same thing.

But why when it comes to the gay lifestyle its wrong to tell people they can leave it? Why is it wrong to tell about the health consequences of the lifestyle? Its like telling a smoker or alcoholic there is no health consequence to their lifestyle, and that they cant change, and telling them its wrong to want to change .

A website that shows that people can change if they want to is http://www.exodus...onal.org

If you dont want to change, dont research how to change, but dont prevent others who are unhappy in the lifestyle from trying. If you want to change, you have every right to try and change.

All this leads me to the saying, the reason most psychologists get into psychology is because they have psychological issues they want to deal with. Why do people listen to people who have psychological issues telling them how to solve their psychological issues?

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