The Reparative Therapy Controversy

On today’s controversial show, we discussed forms of therapy that are designed to turn a gay person straight. Currently, there are still a handful of therapists who still perform this on teenagers and adults who are uncomfortable with their sexual orientation – despite the fact that the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, and other respected medical organizations oppose this therapy, claiming that it doesn’t work and that it may be potentially harmful.

I felt that we needed to include all parties who have considered reparative therapy to hear the stories of people who have tried these treatments.  Although some viewers may disagree with this tactic, if we want to reach everyone who might benefit from understanding the risks of this therapy, you have to present multiple perspectives.  Based on the need to pass the September 30 California law banning the practice in minors and continued media attention on groups advocating both sides of the reparative therapy decision, the debate continues and the venues are often basements and backrooms.

Some guests argued that they have been changed through these treatments, but I was overwhelmed by the pain of individuals hurt by the experience.  After listening to both sides of the issue and after reviewing the available medical data, I agree with the established medical consensus.  I have not found enough published data supporting positive results with gay reparative therapy, and I have concerns about the potentially dangerous effects when the therapy fails, especially when minors are forced into treatments.

My biggest epiphany occurred after hearing where the opposing groups found some common ground. The guests who appeared on my show on either side of this debate agreed that entering into any therapy with guilt and self-hate is a major error. Trying to change who you are instead of loving who you are leads to broken spirits and broken hearts. Encouraging self-acceptance is the only way to help alleviate the shame experienced by those who are struggling with their sexuality – and help them reach a place where who they are matches who they want to be.